Join us for Celebration!

All are welcome to our interactive, inclusive services that incorporate the arts, contemplative practices, fellowship, and social justice.  We meet every Sunday at 4:00pm at the Hillman City Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Ave S, Seattle WA 98118.

This Sunday at Celebration:

Storytelling, part 3:
Finding Your Voice

Reflection by Marcus Green

This Sunday we will be joined by Marcus Green, founder and Editor-in-Chief of the South Seattle Emerald. Marcus is a very talented writer (see his provocative piece on us adults failing our local youth here) but more than that Marcus is someone who gets others to tell their stories.  He founded the newspaper as a way to get south enders to tell their own stories and take the reins of our own communal narrative, instead of allowing others to write the story for them. Marcus is also a coworking partner and regular volunteer at the Collaboratory and an active member of West Seattle Unitarian Church.

We are story junkies. The huge success of movies and television is not due just to their drool-inducing fast-paced imagery… it comes out of their ability to tell good stories.  Stories shape our reality– they teach us what is possible and impossible, they tell us what is noble and shameful, they influence our lifestyles and our goals. Yet as much as we are fascinated by stories, we are often bored by and blind to the one story closest to us– our own.  During Celebrations in February we’ll be looking at the power of stories to shape our society and our personal lives.

We’ll be giving out small journals for your story-writing potential (bring your own if you’ve got one you like) as we explore this month’s themes: The Setting, The Narrator, The Characters, and The Quest.  This month’s theme was inspired by the fact that it’s Black History Month, a time to uplift liberating stories that are so often untold. Throughout the month we’ll be hearing from folks who are living out stories that contribute to this liberating history in the here and now.

Join us this Sunday, February 15th at 4:00pmfor Celebration.  We meet at the Hillman City Collaboratory, 5623 Rainier Ave S, 98118.  You are encouraged to invite a friend!


Support V&M Kids!
This Sunday @ 2PM

*Professional Childcare will be provided during the meeting*
Emily, our Minister of Spiritual Play, writes:
Please come and collaborate on the direction of Children’s
Ministry at Valley and Mountain.  Sunday, February 15

2:00-3:30pm at the Collaboratory.

This meeting will include the following topics:
1. Ensuring the safety of our kids during Celebration
2. I volunteered to help in Children’s Ministry. Now what?
3. What kind of experience would we like to offer our kids during Celebration?
4. Integrating social justice with Children’s Ministry

John’s Court Date

*photo by Mohammed Yussuf, Runta News*
John here: This Thursday, I have a court date along with Socrates and Kadra (airport workers) and Kshama (City Councilmember) after our arrest in November at the HQ of Alaska Airlines. The action came after 3 years and countless numbers of meetings, demonstrations, and attempted negotiations with the airlines to treat their lower level contracted laborers with dignity and livable wages. For more background, you can read my blog post about it here. The court date is Feb 19th at 1:30 PM at a court in SeaTac. If you’re free that day I encourage you to go to Interfaith Advocacy Day instead of my hearing (there will be future opportunities, no doubt), but welcome your prayers and support.

Interfaith Advocacy Day,
Feb 19th

We recently joined Faith Action Network, an interfaith coalition of social justice oriented congregations. Contact our FAN liaisons Mari Kim (marikim@me.com) or Irene DeMaris (irenedemaris@gmail.com) to get involved. See below for the advocacy day plan of action:

Register now at http://bit.ly/15-ifad-olympia for Faith Action Network’s Interfaith Advocacy Day on February 19, starting at The United Churches of Olympia, 110 11th Avenue SE, near the Capitol campus. Check in begins at 8am, and the program begins at 9am, with the day ending around 3pm. The day’s agenda includes: Multi-faith reflections on advocating for justice; caucus meetings by legislative district; workshops on FAN’s five policy areas (see our legislative agenda); presentations by a Senator in the morning, with other electeds and the Governor’s budget director joining us in the afternoon. Appointments with your elected officials will be scheduled for you if you register byFebruary 12. Lunch is provided. Cost is $15 in advance, $20 at the door.

Reflect on Mortality and Dirt at Ash Wednesday Joint Service,Feb 18th

We are once again joining with Columbia City Church of Hope for an Ash Wednesday service. On February 18th, we’ll meet at Church of Hope (3818 S. Angeline St. 98118) at6:30PM for this candlelit, contemplative gathering where we pause to take stock of our lives, and the reality that “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Ryan will be giving the reflection.


Chad and John on KEXP Next Week
Chad and John will be on the show “Mind Over Matters” on  KEXP, 90.3FM, hosted by Mike McCormick next Saturday, Feb 21st from 7:30-8:00am. Invited to speak about issues of policing/criminal justice reform, Chad will speak to the issues of black men and police profiling and John will be talking about the lawsuit he filed against the SPD after he was beaten during a protest.

 Collab Hospitality Ambassadors/ Front Desk Staff Wanted

Annette has started a welcome desk at the front of the Collab, to show hospitality to the steady stream of humans who come in the front door during the week. Some are simply curious neighbors, some are seeking to connect in some way to the V&M/Collab/CAC/etc communities, and some are folks down on the luck and looking for help figuring out an issue.  We are looking for help in 2 hour shifts during weekdays from people who can show warmth and welcome to strangers.


“Walking While Black”
Always Dangerous
Until Proven Otherwise Report

Chad Goller-Sojourner, one of our leaders at V&M, organized a GolfWalk in response to the arrest of William Wingate for “walking while Black.” The event was a powerful statement to the powers that be that the community will stand up and believes that #BlackLivesMatter! You can find news coverage, commentary, and ongoing organizing work at the events facebook page:


(in case you missed them in previous weeks newsletters)

Subversive and Mystical Theology Group
Starting March 5th

The group will meet from 7:00-8:30pm for seven Thursdays: 3/5-4/23, skipping April 2nd, at the Collaboratory. This class is a response to repeated requests for a setting in which to learn about and discuss the concepts that inform much of what we do at V&M, which is basically mystical-subversive theology. Mystical Theology reflects on the experience of suffering in shame, illumination to grace, and union with God.  Subversive Theology reflects on the spirituality of creative, redemptive love as resistance to the social psychosis (mass zombie delusions) that perpetuates social injustice and oppressive structures.
The Outline is:
Class 1: The Point of Theology– from Being Right to Coming Alive
Class 2: God– from Big Being to Ground of Being
Class 3: Jesus– from God’s Press Secretary to Subversive Performance Artist
Class 4: Sin/Evil– from Naughty By Nature to Mass Zombie Delusion
Class 5: Salvation/Liberation– from Great Escape to Great Plunge
Class 6: Sanctification/Enlightenment– from Being Human Perfectly to Being Perfectly Human
Class 7: Church/Community– from Fortress of Dogma to Spiritual Compost Bucket

You will not be able to check your brain at the door in this group– the purpose is not to promote adherence to a single dogma but rather to introduce a helpful framework for the mystical-subversive Christian tradition, stretched and informed by insights from other mystical-subversive traditions. The goal is to create fertile ground for participants to mature in their ability to communicate and rely upon their own theology and experience.

Collecting Books, Stamps, Cash for Prisoners

JCS is inviting us to help in this donation drive to empower incarcerated individuals.  During the month of February, donations can be brought to the Collaboratory. Contact Annette Jones at villageoutreach5623@gmail.com with questions or ideas.

Collab Garden and Chicken-Keeping Help Needed 

Isn’t the Collab garden outrageously awesome?  Isn’t it great how we get to have picnics and cookouts and meditation sessions out there? Wouldn’t it be even better if we had chickens laying eggs that we can cook with and share with local kids and other neighbors? This wonderful garden is only possible because of the hardwork of committed volunteers. The Collab Garden Coordinator, Rachel Tefft, is seeking a V&M representative for the garden. Someone willing to water the plants or feed the chickens, or other projects. It could be once a week (perhaps Sunday since you’ll be there anyway?) or some other commitment. Please emailracheltefft15@gmail.com with interest and questions.

Notes from the Co-Creators Meeting

Thanks to all who participated in the co-creators meeting on the 25th.  We came together to give voice to our passions and hopes.  Thinking back on V&M a few years ago, it’s really remarkable how far we’ve come.  We even have significant disagreements!  Someone said to me, “Wow, we’ve got a real faith community now, people have strong feelings that differ!” What stuck out to me as that we spent the bulk of our discussion talking about making difference in creative liberation.  How would we pool our energies to work for change and what should we focus on?  While it may have been hard to agree on what matters most, at least we are spending our time wrestling with questions like that, instead of what color the tablecloths should be or how much to spend on a new sound system (which are often the focal point of congregational meetings). The two main outcomes were:
  • We discussed and approved a Budget for 2015
  • We narrowed our 2015 creative liberation focus to the areas of criminal justice reform and economic justice.

Life Sentence Commuted

John here: Sometimes I wonder if any organizing work or activism amounts to any real change.  I just wanted to share this with you all who I know care about social justice, creative liberation, and people who are incarcerated.
3 years ago a group of V&Mers went to Olympia to speak on behalf of Larry Fisher, a man who’d been in prison for 15 years and serving a lifetime sentence for stealing $151 from a Subway.  Some of you on this list were there. Larry had committed two other minor offenses in the previous ten years and although they were minor and nonviolent, it was technically a 3rd strike due to the law that had just been passed here in Washington. He was sentenced to jail for life (technically 777 years, 77 months, and 77 days).  We’d learned about Larry and several other non-violent 3-strikers through our alliance with JusticeWorks a nonprofit working to undo racism against African-Americans in the criminal justice system.  The law is hugely disproportionately affecting black and brown bodies– although Larry happens to be white.  Our liberation is indeed bound up together.
After testimony (V&M brought nearly half the room), the clemency board voted to recommend that the governor commute Larry’s sentence.  They mentioned the importance of the support in the room.  The governor didn’t do anything for a while and V&M had several encounter groups where we wrote letters to the governor about the issue.  I lost track of it until recently when we started sending cards to people in prison.  It turns out that Gov Gregoire signed a commutation days before leaving office!  The proclamation is here.  His story is told there.  V&M is mentioned in it too, believe it or not.  On page two.  Larry is in jail for one more year.May we continue to take seriously the message of Jesus and the prophets of Love– visit the prisoners, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, do justice, make peace.



Join the Monthly Collab Newsletter List

We are starting a monthly e-newsletter for the Collaboratory.  It will include featured upcoming events at the Collab, brief blurbs about what has been going on, a monthly profile of someone involved in the collaborative work, and a list of needs. Alicia de los Reyes has taken lead on generating this newsletter.  Click here if you want to sign up to receive the letter.  And email alicia.delosreyes@gmail.com if you have anything you want included in the newsletter that the broad Collab community may be interested in (clothing swaps, service projects, creative liberation actions, etc).

Solidarity with Muslim Brothers and Sisters

Link to Seattle P-I article

The imam of a mosque in our area was kicked off a plane for using the bathroom in a “doubtful way” and has asked for faith leaders to support him in asking the airline to investigate the occurrence and other discriminatory reports.  John participated by speaking at a press conference calling for Delta and the federal transportation agency to investigate a growing list of reported complaints (and as-yet-unreported instances) of Muslims being ejected from planes for purely discriminatory reasons.  He called on Christians who claim discrimination when cashiers fail to say “Merry Christmas” to look at this case of religious prejudice and join in solidarity with Muslims who face this kind of treatment on a regular basis.

Cool Stuff @ the Collab

  • Rhapsody Concert Series, Thursday, Feb 19th, 6-9pm. Visit communityartscreate.org for details.
  • Pop-Up Bakery, Saturday, 12pm-3pm.
  • SAFE Organizing Meeting, Every Tuesday, 7-9pm.  SAFE= Standing Against Foreclosures and Evictions.  Meal served 6:30-7pm.
  • Yoga for all Bodies, Every Tuesday, 4-5pm!  Welcoming of all bodies and experience levels, this class is taught by volunteer local teachers.  Mats and instructions are provided.
  • Check out other events on the collab website: www.hillmancitycollaboratory.org
  • Click here if you want to sign up to receive the Collab monthly newsletter.  And emailalicia.delosreyes@gmail.com if you have anything you want included in the newsletter that the broad Collab community may be interested in (clothing swaps, service projects, creative liberation actions, etc).

Tags: progressive church Seattle, social justice church, spiritual community, ecumenical, radically inclusive, diverse, multi-generational, lgbt-friendly, Hillman City, Columbia City, Rainier Valley, South Seattle, incarnational, missional church, prophetic, mystical, alternative worship, emergent church Seattle, emerging, process theology, liberation theology, integral Christianity, reconciling congregation, UMC, open and affirming, inclusive, open-minded, Collaboratory


5 Responses to home

  1. beacon hillite says:

    I just saw your article in the 12/15/10 issue of the South Seattle Beacon. This was the first I have heard about your fellowship. As a person who has been uninterested in traditional churches for pretty much my whole life, I have to say that I was pretty impressed and even a little excited about what you are doing. Celebrating creativity and working to stop injustice in the world are two of the most divine things that humans can do; I’m pleased to see that you have made this so important to your mission! Keep it up!

  2. Jud Hendrix says:


    You rock! Glad things are going well! I need to come hang you with you!

  3. Shira Nahari says:

    My Dear Brother-in-Peace John,

    I just read your incredible report of how you were beaten and arrested in Seattle recently.
    I intend to share it widely to enroll people in following your advice issued on the heels of this unprovoked abuse:
    · Listen deeply.
    · Get upset.
    · Generate Love.

    Among the recipients of your repoert will be the Mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn and some City council members.

    You are a sterling template for unconditional Love and I am very sure Jesus would be proud to call you a disciple! You are spreading His message in a very pure form by BEing Peace.

    Blessed be
    in Love and Light,
    Shira Nahari, Everson WA

  4. Polly Burns says:

    I have just read your account of the happenings in Seattle…as I prepare to visit the city. I was there in October when the Occupy protest began and spent time with protesters. I am only there two days this time…I will be holding you in prayer and I will be publicizing your report.
    God bless you and thankyou for your challenge
    Polly in the UK

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