We know it can be unnerving to step into a new thing, so we want to provide you with some information to make it easier to venture into V&M for the first time, knowing a bit about what to expect. If you’d prefer to meet up with John or one of our other leaders, please contact us and we’d be happy to meet up for coffee.
What is Valley & Mountain? Is it a church?
In a lot of people’s minds, a church is a place where a group of people with uniform beliefs about God, humanity, and right/wrong gather in order to participate in religious rituals. If that is what you mean by church, then no. We are not that. Valley & Mountain participants have a wonderful variety of beliefs and worldviews. Our common ground amidst this diversity is a shared desire for authentic community that will help us to develop mature spiritual lives that are rooted in transformative love—not sappy sentimental love—but rather an unconditional, liberating love that confronts injustice and alienation, and generates community, creativity, and wholeness. Many of us in the V&M community call this love “grace,” the source of it “God,” and see its embodiment in Jesus. Others of us use different words or hold different perspectives altogether. We discuss our personal beliefs openly, excited about the diversity of thought and with the humble recognition that ultimate truth is beyond the human capacity to grasp. Instead of emphasizing doctrines, we focus on how we might accept and express love in our lives on this beautiful and messed up planet. So, if that’s what you mean by church, then… oh yeah, we’re that.
What are your beliefs and values?
Our community contains a broad array of beliefs and there are no required thoughts to participate at V&M. Our roots are in the incarnational, mystical, and liberationist Christian traditions (in short these traditions are about recognizing the sacred in all people and the earth, seeking communion with our Source/God, and working for social justice), while we also strive to provide welcoming and hospitable space for people of diverse religious and spiritual identities. Instead of religious dogmas, we have three core actions/values that give our community direction and focus.
Deep Listening– the inward journey of becoming people with a mature personal spirituality/faith. For us, this requires deeply listening to one’s own inner voice, instead of projecting an inauthentic persona to please others. It requires deeply listening to others, and learning from their experiences. And it requires deeply listening to the Spirit that may guide us on the path of love and reconciliation.
Creative Liberation–the outward journey of becoming people who contribute our gifts to human and ecological flourishing. For us, this means that in addition to acts of kindness, we must try to understand those systems, cycles, and structures that oppress people and degrade the earth, and partner with the creative power of the Spirit to replace these things with liberating alternatives.
Radical Hospitality–the communal journey of becoming people who have relationships that reflect our mutuality, universal siblinghood, and interdependence. For us this means cultivating authentic, meaningful relationships with family, friends, and our neighbors, especially those who seem very different. It involves learning how to receive with gratitude the gifts and stories of the other, while respectfully and unashamedly offering others our gifts and stories as well.
How do I get connected?
V&M meets frequently for a bunch of different activities, and no one is more important than the others. But, most people initially get connected by attending a Celebration service or a session of Great Mysteries on Tap. Celebrations occur on the first and third Sunday of each month from 4-5:30pm at 3820 S Ferdinand St. Great Mysteries on Tap meets every other Wednesday from 8-9:30pm at Awash Ethiopian Restaurant (3808 S Edmunds St) for a round-table discussion of a different topic each session. You are also very welcome to come to a small group gathering, social justice activity, or an “experiment.” Below are some Frequently Asked Questions about Celebration.
What is Celebration like?
Celebrations take place in 3 movements. First, we gather together with song, prayer, and a reflection. Second, we break into groups that engage in various of spiritual practices. You can choose from options like: meditation, yoga, arts, or making sandwiches for the homeless (these are just a sampling of what we do). Third, we gather around tables for discussion and fellowship over fresh soup and bread.
When and where does Celebration meet?
We meet from 4:00-5:30pm on the FIRST & THIRD Sunday of every month in the Hudson Building (look for Rookies Sports Bar) at 3820 S. Ferdinand St., Seattle WA 98118. This is a space we rent on Sunday afternoons from a church called Light for Life (you’ll see a hanging sign above the entrance). You enter the building from the parking lot behind the building.
Directions: If you’re driving south on Rainier Ave S., turn left (East) on S. Ferdinand Street. The intersection is in the heart of Columbia City, and Geraldine’s Counter and Lottie’s Lounge are two of the landmark businesses on the corners of the intersection. Drive half a block and it’s on your left through the little parking lot. There is street parking in the neighborhood and a lot immediately across the street ($1 for 2 hours)
If you’re coming on public transit. It’s steps from the #7 and #9 bus lines and just four blocks from the Columbia City Link Light Rail station.
What should I wear?
Whatever makes you comfortable! Most people dress casually to any and all V&M events.
What about my kids?
Celebrations were designed to be interactive and fun, and kids are very welcome in the space. That said, we offer childcare to little ones over 12 months old at Valley Mountain Kids for stories, learning, and play led by our experienced and background-checked leaders.
Do I have to give money?
If you want to you are more than welcome, but please as our guest, please do not feel obligated to give anything financially.
Can I bring my friends?
Yes! In a world full of division, hierarchies, and litmus tests for belonging, we seek to be the opposite– a radically hospitable, open, and inclusive community.
This group sounds refreshingly different and kind of awesome, but is it really some weird cult?
Nope! We promise there are no snakes and no kool-aid! Of course, lots of us are spiritual and theological “misfits,” because many at V&M don’t fit into the traditional institutions of organized religion very easily. We tend to attract people who are independently-minded and who want more than artificial relationships and shallow answers. We recognize a fundamental “right to be yourself” at Valley & Mountain, and we figure that we’ll learn more from real people than fake ones anyways. It may also be useful to know that V&M is affiliated with the United Methodist Church, a progressive denomination characterized by an emphasis on authentic spiritual living and the pursuit of social justice.