V&M Celebrations
@ 5623 Rainier Ave S.
4:00pm every Sunday
11:00am on the 1st and 2nd Sundays of each month

All Welcome!

This Sunday at 4pm!

Perspectives on Prayer & Meditation
(and conversation with Rev. Harriet Walden of Mothers for Police Accountability)

Panel with Harriet Walden, Mona Lee, and Neal Sharpe– moderated by John

4:00pm @
The Hillman City Collaboratory
5623 Rainier Ave S

(no 11am services on 4th/5th Sundays, at least for the summer)

This Sunday instead of a Reflection we will have a small panel on prayer– what it has looked like in the lives of people with quite different experiences and spiritualities. Alongside Mona Lee and Neal Sharpe, Rev Harriet Walden of Mothers for Police Accountability will be joining us for the panel. Afterwards she will be leading an Encounter Group on what they are doing on a policy level and how we could offer support.

This month our theme at V&M is “Prayer: What do you think you’re praying to, and what do you expect to happen?” We’ll be diving into the diverse, mysterious, often misunderstood and minimized topic of Prayer.

*Come 30 minutes early to practice singing or playing with the leaders*


Liberatory Book Group Forming

After community gatherings that have revealed the amount of fear, anger, and despair that people are feeling right now, some folks are beginning to plan for a short-term group that would meet for 4-5 sessions this August to read through Howard Thurman’s classic short book “Jesus and the Disinherited.” This book laid out much of the sociological and spiritual foundations for the civil rights movement. It is not namby-pamby. MLK reportedly carried with him wherever he went. Thurman was a mystic, a genius, and a lion, who mentored and advised many of the leaders of that movement. The book is as relevant as ever.

It begins with Thurman saying he’s tired of hearing about religious appeals to do charity for the less fortunate. He asks “does this religion of Jesus have anything to say to those whose backs are up against the wall?” By “the religion of Jesus” he means the spirituality that Jesus practiced as a dispossessed person. Thruman interprets Jesus as a liberated person despite being fully awake to the occupation of the Empire. He sees him as essentially the same as a Black man living in the USA.  He’s interested in this man who seemed to live a liberated, constructive life while overcoming fear, deception, and hatred– the “hounds of hell” that every disinherited person is assailed by.

Morning Celebration Check-In
Our Morning Celebration has been meeting twice monthly for 4 months now. If you’ve been part of this gathering, we’d love your feedback. Click here for a 4-question feedback survey on how we’re doing with our goals of being: family-friendly, multicultural/multi-ethnic, and spiritually transformative.

Sadhana Contemplative Prayer
We’ve been giving out a book called Sadhana this month at Celebration. Written by Anthony de Mello, a Jesuit priest from India who spent a great deal of time with Buddhist and Hindu meditation masters as well as studying from his own traditions. He became a world-famous contemplative prayer and meditation teacher and wrote this book (among many others) that details 47 different types of prayer practice. Some are pretty far out! These practices are all over the map. You may find some of them strange and uncomfortable and others you may find life changing. And at different times in your life you may find yourself drawn to different types described in the book. We hope you will take what is inspiring to you and don’t force it with the others.

Garden Work Party

From our Collab Gardening Guru, Rachel Tefft:

“Over the past three years, the Collab Garden has been a place for neighbors to…
meet at work parties, pick their own produce, enjoy a community BBQ, host a meeting, learn to cook pizzas in a brick oven, become friends plants and chickens, purchase local produce and listen to music!

The garden has had a rough couple weeks and we would love to spend some time out there this Saturday morning (July 23rd, 9-12) celebrating all the good this space has provided and all it will provide in the future!

Our front bed was recently vandalized and we need to replant. Thank you to the neighbors who have offered plants to help with this. If you have anything in your yard that needs a new home bring it over to be a part of this new community love garden!

Thank you all for creating this awesome space and I am looking forward to spending many more days and evenings out there with you!”

Hotel Worker Safety Summit Report

Last Wednesday several folks from V&M attended a kick-off event to support hotel workers in advocating for their physical safety and economic opportunity. Stay tuned for more ways to support this cause!

Summer Clothing Swap

On Saturday, July 30th from 11am-2pm at the Collaboratory is a Clothing Swap. Come donate or take! https://www.facebook.com/events/1458470540837202/

Spiritual Maturity
We’ve begun a conversation recently on how we can better fulfill the first part of the V&M vision– fostering spiritual maturity. Jon U, our summer associate, is currently in the process of doing 1-on-1’s with people to ask about what has helped folks mature spiritually, and what they yearn for in that area. Sign up for a session or just to send in input by emailing him at jon.umbdenstock@gmail.com.

Camping Trip Sign-Ups Open Now

V&M camping trip is only five weeks away!!!! Aug 19-21 at Lake Easton State Park. Contact Amanda to register: potter.amanda@gmail.com

V&M Women’s Circle Summer 2016 Events Calendar
(and some co-ed events in yellow hightlight)

July 27: night swimming in Lake Washington! We’ll meet by the swimming beach at Seward Park for a dinner picnic, some frisbee tossing and fun in the water. Hostess-Coordinator person: TBD

Aug 5: First Friday Potluck. A monthly potluck open to all women of the Valley & Mountain community.

August 10: Kubota gardens picnic dinner. Hostess-Coordinator person: TBD

August 19-21: V&M Camping Trip- Lake Easton State Park – just 70 minutes from Seattle on I-90, passed North Bend. Contact Amanda (potter.amanda@gmail.com) for more info. Signups begin July 17th. Join the larger V&M family for a weekend of camping, fun, swimming and good times.

August 24: Farmer’s Market Potluck. Meet in the park behind the library for a women’s potluck. Bonus points if your contribution is entirely sourced from farmer’s market that day! Hostess-Coordinator person: Amanda

September 2: First Friday Potluck. A monthly potluck open to all women of the Valley & Mountain community. Location: Freddie’s house, 4610 S. Ferdinand St.

September 7: Something artsy- Hostess-Coordinator person: TBD

September 21: Fall Equinox bonfire.

FALL CIRCLES BEGIN week of Sept 26



(in case you missed them)

Pledge Drive Update

Although our 2-week pledge drive push is over, new pledges keep coming in! Thank you to the V&M community for pooling your resources to help us fulfill the mission and vision we are called to!
If you intended to make a recurring gift (or one-time offering) and didn’t get to it, click here to set it up!

Restorative Justice

There is a great deal around restorative justice, mass incarceration and related social change issues happening at the Collaboratory right now. Among other things is:
(1) The Hillman City Restorative Justice project beginning to meet. This group envisions using restorative circles in the local area instead of punitive or festering solutions. It is being led by a youth steering committee that began meeting this week. V&M is the fiscal sponsor. Contact marileejolin@gmail.com if you want to learn more.
(2) Creative Justice: a group of teenagers and mentors and artists gathers 3x/week at the Collab to help youth who are in the criminal justice system to find a creative outlet for their emotional struggles. Successful completion of the program helps youth reduce their sentences.
(3) Freedom Project: this group assists prisoners with finding interior freedom, personal liberation, and social-political conscientization and meets here weekly.

Prayer and Processing Service Report

A couple dozen folks gathered on Friday night for a rapid response gathering in the wake of the yet another day of violence against Black brothers and sisters. We prayed, sang, processed, and began brainstorming for concrete actions we could take as individuals, as well as on a neighborhood and policy level. The work continues, this Sunday and beyond.

Retrospective on Olivia

*As V&M and the depth of community here matures, we’re starting a new tradition of sharing some words and a narrative about co-creators who are moving onto new adventures. For this installment Davidson interviewed and wrote this piece on Olivia*

Olivia Smith became an intern at Valley and Mountain after John Helmiere knocked on a neighbor’s door, and chatted with Olivia and her Mom.  One topic led to another and behold the conversation ended with John offering an internship to Olivia, and Olivia accepting,

Olivia’s energy and organizational skills were put right to work.  Before each celebration you could see Olivia scurrying around attending to details, such as arranging chairs , plus seeing that the service program was ready.  During the celebration she often did the welcome, read scripture, or gave the benediction.  Most memorable were the times she gave the reflection. Her talent for putting together a reverent, dynamic presentation was awe inspiring.  Her last reflection on June 5th connected ideas of Beyonce’s latest album, Lemonade.  She was able to tie in eleven states of being from denial to redemption.

Olivia grew up along with her three brothers and two sisters as part of her Father’s non denominational church in Illinois.  She moved to Seattle to start high school at Cleveland, where she participated in sports including track and basketball. She then went to Seattle University.  She majored in political science and spanish. She increased her knowledge of spanish by living in Puebla, Mexico for five months, and participating in S.U.’s Esperanza program.

Starting last May 11th she was part of a group of students who engaged in a sit in at S.U. They occupied the Casey building, which was home of Matteo Ricci college.  The sit in lasted twenty three days with the students protesting the curriculum and leadership of Matteo Ricci.  The goals of the protest were to change the culture and climate making the college less elitist and Eurocentric. The protest has led to significant peaceful changes.

Funding for Morning Celebration + Neighborhood World Music Ensemble!

*caption: morning celebration visioning in march*
Exciting news! We received a grant to help fund a substantial portion of the first year of weekly Morning Celebrations. The funding will help us pay for children’s ministry, hospitality, and is especially geared toward the creation of a new neighborhood singing ensemble that we will sponsor and run. The ensemble will sing songs of liberation from around the world and perform at local festivals and other venues as well as help provide music at the Morning Celebration. We give thanks to the Board of Congregational Development and the Commission on Ethnic Ministries of the Pacific Northwest Conference of the United Methodist Church!
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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