Sunday, March 22, 2020, we locked up the Hub after our 6th Sunday service in that newly remodeled space. A small team of folks had spent 6 weeks remodeling the hub, creating kids’ spaces, painting walls, installing equipment, and enjoying what would soon be the new home for our church. What prompted this remodel and move from what appeared to be a successful and thriving church at the Cloquet High School?
After three years of lumping equipment from frozen trucks and trailers, our workforce of volunteers was exhausted and retiring fast. Often too exhausted to stay for the church service they spent time setting up. They came, they worked, they left. While some can spin this experience as common for church planting, and a necessity for “building the Kingdom,” we wanted something else. We noticed that the big, dark auditorium with its state-of-the-art sound, light, and stage system wasn’t working the way we’d hoped. It offered an escape for the viewers into anonymity. It created an awkward barrier between those who were on the stage and off. And, largest of all, our internal belief system was shifting. We noticed that saying, “Everyone is welcome,” was disingenuous when we were familied into a church system that underhandedly excluded certain church rights to LGBTQ members. Leaving that church family, and becoming Neighborhood caused a split in our church that was devastating and necessary. It was devastating for families and individuals who felt they were forced out. Their pain, mistrust, and disappointment are real and valid and will stick with me for the rest of my life. It was necessary for us to be honest about how our beliefs had shifted. And that meant to be whole-heartedly open and affirming to all who wanted to attend, serve, lead and love in church. There are plenty of seats at the Neighborhood table, and they are open to all.
This Sunday, June 6, 2021, the doors of the Hub will be open for all again. And we hope to stay open week after week as we repair from our loss of community into something good and beautiful. We will sing together, laugh together, and sit awkwardly together. We will grow and talk about difficult things. We will be disrupted for the good and growth of our souls. We will continue to dismantle the ideas and structures that subvert humanity as our spiritual act of worship. We will continue to practice liberation theology—seeing God as a liberator to the oppressed actively at work in humanity and creation for the redemption of all things. For parents and guardians, you will find that our children’s curriculum on Sundays has changed to reflect these values, too.
We will continue to engage our virtual church too, where you can connect on Facebook. For those who don’t utilize Facebook—we will also be on YouTube. For those in-person—we will have communion, worship, prayer, coffee, a message, and connection time. If being in the building seems problematic, you can hang outside with a cup of coffee. While the weather holds, we will have areas for gathering outside and inside for your preferred comfort. There will be no organized kids programming this week, but the kids’ areas will be open for parents to utilize and monitor their children until we start children’s services in a few weeks.