Volunteer Friday #19

Volunteer Friday #19

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Desmond!

DESMOND SMITH

Volunteer Area(s): Play bass in the Watershed Band, currently lead Preface 2.0 Bloc, member of the Lead team

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

Not long after we started attending Watershed in 2007, I knew it was going to be important for me to get involved somehow. My wife suggested that I join the band, but, even though I had been a musician my whole life, I kept going back and forth on whether or not that was something I wanted to do. So she filled out a connection card for me and dropped it in that metal box. 

I am a member of the Lead Team (think a Watershed version of church elders) primarily because I care deeply about the direction of this community. I care about the staff and people who find themselves part of a Bloc or a gathering throughout the week. It is a privilege to come alongside the staff as they make decisions and dream about what's next for us.

Preface 2.0 is new for 2017 and has emerged as a Bloc for folks who want to go a little deeper than the Preface experience allows. Among the most important parts of the Watershed experience for me is the idea that people can come and feel affirmed about who they are. Preface 2.0 is an opportunity for me to participate in community with people who are new to the ideas that they are loved, that their questions about what it means to live a life of faith are normal and healthy, and that there is a place where they can simply be themselves.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

Being on stage with the band is always fun. But there's something about Christmas at Watershed. There are candles. Lots of candles. I've only played a couple of times on Christmas Eve, but each time as the candles are being lit, I've appreciated how everyone in our community has an opportunity to be a light. It's a powerful reminder that we all carry a divine spark and that we can see that spark in everyone we meet. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be?

Open  – to new ideas, to all people, to thinking about things in new ways.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

My best days almost always start early with me writing in the sunroom. Sometime later, my wife joins me and that that means drinking coffee (or a pot of tea) and talking about anything without worrying about what time it is or what's up next on the to-do list. When it's not 400 degrees outside, maybe I'll take the bike out and trail ride for a couple of hours.  And if every day could end with a good meal around the table with good friends making good memories, that might just be perfect.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE THOMAS GARVIN BECAUSE... THAT DUDE HAS GOT SOME ENERGY AND SOME GREAT IDEAS AND SOME MAD CELLO SKILLS AND WE ALL NEED PEOPLE LIKE THAT IN OUR LIVES.

Volunteer Friday #18

Volunteer Friday #18

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Shelley!

SHELLEY LEAZER

Volunteer Area(s): Café/Info Table Team

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

It was a really good fit for an early bird like me! Plus I love getting to know the people I worship with on Sundays and making people feel welcome - just like I felt when I first started.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

I love anytime I'm able to help someone new feel connected to Watershed. Visiting churches can be an experience filled with baggage and stress and I hope that in a small way I can make someone feel like their whole self will be accepted and loved.

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be?

Thoughtful.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

I'd start out with a yoga class at Yoga One, then brunch somewhere in South End. Explore the Mint Museum in the afternoon and close the day with a show at the Neighborhood Theater!

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE DESMOND SMITH BECAUSE... DES IS INVOLVED IN MANY VOLUNTEER AREAS AT WATERSHED, BUT I'M REALLY ENJOYING GETTING TO KNOW HIM AS THE LEADER OF PREFACE 2.0. HE IS SO FRIENDLY AND LEADS OUR GROUP WITH SUCH WISDOM AND KINDNESS! 

Volunteer Friday #17

Volunteer Friday #17

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Katie!

KATIE WILLIAMS

Volunteer Area(s): Cafe and Info Table Leader

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I started out on the team because my best friend, Elizabeth Benfield, was the leader. I love being a part of the team because it is an easy way for me to see all of my Watershed friends and to meet new people. It's easy to stand at the front, smile and be kind, but the role is important because all it takes is a welcoming smile to ease someone who may be new and joining us for the first time alone.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

It's hard to place one specific moment. I enjoy how well the team works together and how willing they are to make sure everyone's Watershed experience is amazing and as stress-free as possible. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Community.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

My perfect day would be to lounge by the pool with some friends, enjoy a delicious dinner at one of the many new restaurants and hang out at one of the breweries around the city.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE SHELLEY LEAZER BECAUSE... SHELLEY IS NEW TO WATERSHED AND THE CAFE TEAM AND IS ONLY TEMPORARILY WITH US UNTIL SHE GOES BACK TO SCHOOL, BUT SHE HAS JUMPED RIGHT IN ANYWAY WITH THE TEAM!  SHE IS ALWAYS WILLING TO TO STEP UP AND FILL IN WHEN WE ARE SHORT-STAFFED. SHE IS ALWAYS SMILING AND WILLING TO GO ABOVE AND BEYOND TO HELP THE NEW PEOPLE COMING THROUGH OUR DOORS. 

What is Justice? V | What to Do About Evil

What is Justice? V | What to Do About Evil

From inception Watershed has sought to put justice at the forefront of our mission. Whether embedded into the themes of pop culture artifacts or real life events in our city, nation, and world, justice has become a hot topic. Pastor of Justice Cedric Lundy has been conducting a blog series aimed at unpacking our understanding of justice and why it’s fundamental to our community. This post is part 5 of that series.


What distinguishes injustice from evil? As discussed in the previous blog post in this series at the root of injustice is the fundamental question of “what is enough?” When we either individually or corporately sense we are less it often results in us taking more, which often leaves others with less, and a crazy cycle ensues often resulting in entire systems and institutions of injustice. Evil then is when shame and or blame has led to a complete dehumanization of an individual or group of people. 

While injustice is often times the slow cooker of evil it doesn’t require institutions or systemic injustice to function. Evil is a direct and often overt action that can be perpetrated against someone whom the evildoer has so fully dehumanized that their actions (in their mind) are completely justified. There is no limit to the amount of shame and blame that can be leveled on their victim. 

I recognize this framing of evil may not line up with the accepted dictionary definition, but for our purposes I’m attempting to place evil within a theological framework that isn’t as simplistic as pointing to sin. I believe this is important because just calling it sin functionally excludes anyone who doesn’t align with a historically Christian or “biblical” worldview, and if we’re really to address the problem of evil in a way that includes everyone then we’ve got to work within a framework that is accessible to all.

The problem of evil has always plagued mankind. At times it seems as though it’s not going anywhere any time soon despite the fact that history would show the world as a whole is becoming less violent and more peaceful than at any time in recorded history. Which is especially hard to believe when the headlines recently have been filled with multiple terrorist attacks (several of them in London alone) in less than a month. Even with the gradual downward trend of violence (not that violence is the only measure of evil in the world), what are we to do about the problem of evil in the world? Many would refer to this gradual downward trend as progress, more specifically human progress. Which is why when something horrifically evil happens many living in first world comfort will declare that they have “lost faith in humanity”. The doctrine of progress has declared certain things unacceptable in modern times due solely to the fact that mankind has progressed past them.

New Testament scholar N.T. Wright in his book Evil and the Justice of God points out three characteristics or flaws in the Doctrine of Human Progress approach to dealing with evil. One, we ignore evil when it doesn’t hit us in the face (read: it doesn’t affect us or others like us). Second we are surprised when it does hit us in the face. Lastly we, in large part due to our shock, react in immature and dangerous ways.

We sit in the comfort of our first world privileges insulated from regular exposure to real evil able to not simply ignore it, but orchestrate life rhythms void of any dissonance. Thus not only are we surprised when it does hit us in the face, we are deeply offended. Is it possible that due to our shock and surprise when evil hits us in the face that we take it too personally? I’m not sure, but it would make sense of why our reaction to evil is often immature and dangerous.

Nowhere is that immaturity better seen than when our response to evil is to enact the very acts we condemn on those who wielded it to begin with. When our response to evil is to make evildoers suffer or destroy or eradicate them we’ve fallen into the same trap of dehumanizing them. An eye for eye makes the whole world blind. A bomb for a bomb leaves the whole world a heap of rubble.

Without getting into all the history of the drug war in America, much legislation was passed over a great many years that criminalized drug use and sought to perpetually penalize drug users as felons rather than rehabilitate them. The power of addiction shouldn’t be underestimated, however when one’s ability to re-enter society and become a contributing member of it are severely limited due to the penalties that curtail one’s chances of employment and higher education, the chances that an individual will go back to doing drugs or worse increases.

Perpetually penalizing as a solution to evil just doesn’t work. In fact many attempts to solve evil by punishment not only fails to provide a real solution but actually perpetuates evil. 

And therein lies the great mystery of Jesus dying on the cross.

Often times the question has been asked “why did Jesus have to die?”. However, that question reframes the narrative of Jesus’ death. It is blind to the fact that Jesus didn’t simply die one day, he was killed; Jesus didn’t have to die, he was killed. He was arrested on bogus charges supported by false testimony and then executed. Practically speaking there was no need for Jesus to die. On the other hand Jesus, who had openly criticized the sacrificial system as broken and too often a perpetrator of the cycle of evil it sought to appease, became its target. The sacrificial system was meant to provide a solution to the problem of evil, and it saw Jesus as a threat. 

It has been surmised that Jesus’ willingly allowing himself to be killed was in fact an act of submission to the powers of evil and letting them do their absolute worst. From this his proclaimed resurrection is seen as a victory over evil and the key to solving the problem of evil. It is the theological equivalent of Muhammad Ali’s infamous “rope a dope” tactic. For you non boxing historians, the “rope a dope” was Ali’s tactic of leaning up against the ropes of the ring in a defensive posture using his arms to protect his head and core, allowing his opponent to wail away on him. Ali famously employed this tactic on one of the most powerful hard hitting heavy weights who ever lived for seven rounds just waiting for Foreman to exhaust himself. As Foreman tells it he hit Ali as hard as he could only for Ali to peer out from behind his gloves and say, “Is that all you’ve got?”, to which Foreman said, “Yup that’s it.” He says that he knew at that moment he was going to lose. The difference being that Jesus doesn’t hit back to knock evil out, he rises, and at that sight evil knows it has nothing left. He shows that the way to defeat evil, to really solve the problem of evil is to allow for evil to literally wear itself out. 

It is that approach to solving the problem of evil that was employed by Ghandi and his followers to overcome British imperialism in India. That is the approach to solving the problem of evil that was employed by Martin Luther King Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference with their willingness to allow the angry mobs to do their worst. It is said that the tide was turned in the Civil Rights Movement the day a national audience saw negroes getting beaten to within an inch of their lives on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

And therein lies the true problem of evil. Not that we don’t know how to overcome evil but that it comes at a tremendous cost most of us are not willing to take. Are we truly willing to let evil do its worst? Are willing to let evil take our lives in order to overcome it? Too often the answer is no. We’d rather fight fire with fire. We’d rather have vengeance than peace. We’d rather feel justified than be crucified.

Volunteer Friday #16

Volunteer Friday #16

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Elizabeth!

ELIZABETH BENFIELD WATSON

Volunteer Area(s): Point leading on Cafe/Info Table team; I also was a bloc leader until a few months ago.

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I like getting to know people that I've volunteering with and welcoming attendees/guests. It is fun and easy compared to some of the other Sunday serve teams, but I think hospitality is an important part of the Sunday experience. I always imagine what it would be like to come to Watershed as a first-timer, and I think our Cafe/Info Table team helps make that first visit less scary. 

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

I always love it when people I know from other walks of life show up to service on Sundays. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Delightful.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

I love spending time in the backyard with my family and friends. I don't grill, but if someone is cooking food on the grill - that's a plus!

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE KATIE WILLIAMS BECAUSE... SHE'S WORKED SO HARD COORDINATING THE CAFE/GREETING TEAM. SHE'S QUIET, SO SHE FLIES UNDER THE RADAR, BUT SHE IS A REALLY CARING AND CREATIVE LEADER!

The Potting Shed: Thermostat vs. Thermometer

The Potting Shed: Thermostat vs. Thermometer

By Kristy Yetman, Child Therapist and GreenHouse Volunteer

I believe for every kid who is about to lose it, there’s a parent who is about to do the same.  Some days are beautiful and others can feel brutal.  There is nothing certain about a day with a kid except that you are certain to not have certainty!

All parents know those scenes:  

  • You’ve almost successfully made it through the checkout line at Target without a meltdown when your child reaches for one of the chocolate bars.
  • You have spent the past three hours at the playground and, after giving the 5-minute warning, everything seems to be going according to plan and you might just make it back to the car without issue... but because his brother took his last goldfish your tired and dirty toddler is now a tired and dirty toddler who is also having a tantrum. 
  • Your child is teary-eyed while sitting at the kitchen table because he’s not understanding the science project instructions and it’s due tomorrow.  

I’m sure you could add your own stories with your kid, at any day, and any moment.  One of the things I work on with parents is to help them pay attention to themselves during these moments and notice what is happening inside of them.  Is my heart beating fast?  Is my jaw clenched?  Am I using physical force?  Am I raising my voice in that frustrated tone?  Am I starting to blame my spouse for what’s happening?  

One of the most valuable things I have learned from the research of Dr. Gary Landreth, and something I share with parents all the time, is the metaphor of being a thermostat verses a thermometer.  A thermometer reacts to the temperature around it.  When the temperature goes up, the thermometer goes up.  Thermostats on the other hand respond to the temperature around them and when the temperature changes a thermostat responds in a way that is helpful to the situation.  

Yes, it is one of those things that seems easier to say than practice. There are definitely skills to learn and practice.  When we are able to recognize what is happening inside of us, though, we are able to interfere with the tendency to let the emotions of others dictate the emotions in us.  Just because your child’s emotional temperature is rising, doesn’t mean that your's has to.  You can respond in ways that help regulate your child’s emotions. In other words, your child’s feelings are not your feelings.  

What’s one of those skills for staying calm?  The easiest thing to do and the easiest thing to forget to do:  breathe.  In through your nose and out through your mouth.  Once, twice, however long it takes for you to feel in control of yourself.  

With a calm body, you can respond with a calm mind.

There are lots of other things you can do too. During The Potting Shed series in GreenHouse, the When Big Emotions Can Cause Big Problems session will explore some of the reasons why kids escalate into those big emotions and how parents can respond in the ways that are most helpful. With a few new techniques – and maybe some crossed fingers – when your child comes back to the shopping cart with a Kit Kat bar, you can help them regulate their emotions and understand that it’s almost time for dinner.


THE POTTING SHED

Our next Potting Shed workshop will be a repeat of the topic When Big Emotions Can Cause Big Problems, taught by Kristy YetmanThis session will be held on Sunday, June 25th, from 9:15-10:45AM. Space is limited to 20 participants and the cost is $15 for GreenHouse volunteers/$20 for non-GreenHouse volunteers.

Read what GreenHouse parents are saying about the first session of When Big Emotions Can Cause Big Problems...

This was worth our time. The content was spot on, interactive, and Kristy provided meaningful practices/nuggets of wisdom. Let's do it again soon.
-Rich Robles, GreenHouse parent of 4

Kristy balanced Q&A and presentation of material really well without getting into too many kid-specific situations. It was perfect. Well done!
-Chris Hartter, GreenHouse parent of 2

POUR OVER: WHEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPS

POUR OVER: WHEN THE OTHER SHOE DROPS

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we'll hear from Abbie Fay, Watershed Office Administrator, GreenHouse Support... and quiet force behind much of what goes on around here!


If you have ever met me in person, you know that I am a woman of few words. I have found in my 27 years of life that being quiet and listening is a lot easier than putting myself out there and talking. That requires vulnerability, something that I have struggled with since childhood. 

I was a shy child, so much so that talking to people was terrifying for me. I remember in 6th grade when my family moved to a new town and started going to a new church. My parents coaxed me into going to the youth group in order to make friends. The problem was that I was so terrified of this new situation and of my peers that I spent every week with my back against a wall, not moving for the entire two hours. It took me a year to get up the courage to actually acknowledge the people who tried to talk to me and begin making friends. This is just one instance in my long history of struggling with communicating and interacting with other people.

Despite my early struggles, I somehow found a way to enjoy life and build relationships. Friends at school, buddies on the ski slopes, and roommates in college... I was put into situations where being vulnerable was made easier by being forced to live with someone, ride the chairlift over and over for hours on end, and do homework together for classes. Opening up to people is a lot easier when you don’t have a choice of who you do life with.

This all changed when I got married and moved to California with my husband. In California, he was the only person I knew, but that was okay because I felt comfortable being vulnerable with him, at least initially. I was looking forward to moving across the country to an exciting new place and starting life with the man that I loved.

But that excitement for this new life didn’t last long. Some issues that we had discussed before we got married, that I didn’t think were a big deal, began to grow and slowly consume our lives. I started to sink into despair as the safety net that I felt I had in my husband slowly fell away. 

All of a sudden I found myself lonely and desperate for someone to talk to. I touched base with my friends and family back home, but I didn’t feel like I could talk about what was really going on in my life with anyone. I had friends in California, but they were surface-level friends, and, even if they were vulnerable with me, I never felt comfortable enough to be vulnerable with them. I engaged enough to make it seem like I had my life together, but aside from that I never put in any effort to help these relationships grow. 

As time went on and things got worse, I began to stop caring about having someone to talk to. Staying home and knitting on a Friday night was a lot easier than going to someone’s house and actually engaging in conversation with them. I slowly isolated myself to the point where I had no desire to spend time with people. I would spend my free time knitting or sewing and thinking about everything that was wrong with my life, and how much I hated everything, especially other people. I began to feel that, as an adult, people only hurt each other, so there was no point in trying to befriend anyone, and there definitely was no point in being vulnerable with anyone, because I would just get hurt in the end. 

I got to the point where I didn’t even feel like a real person. I was just going through the motions, trying to keep everything together, just trying to survive another day. I felt numb, I stopped crying when my husband and I would argue, I became a very angry person when things would not go my way at work, and I stopped knowing how to have fun. I was a shell of a person: lonely, isolated, and miserable. 

This all changed when the proverbial “other shoe” dropped in my marriage, and I crumbled. The problem that we were facing had grown so big that it had consumed our marriage completely and was now slowly killing it. I could not handle it alone anymore, it was too much. I had to talk to someone, anyone, about what was going on. 

The day everything came crashing down, I needed a distraction, so I decided to drive to work, the only other place in that town that felt like home. I ended up talking to a couple of girls who were working at the time, and to my surprise, they were comforting, and supportive, and understanding. They didn’t judge me, they just listened. 

I began to open up to more people, and so did my husband. I realized that I wasn’t the only one who was isolated. We had both isolated ourselves from the outside world, and from each other (which is pretty hard to do in a 500 sq ft apartment!). We both started seeking help. We met with other couples who had gone though what we were going through, we started going to counseling, but I knew I was still isolating myself more than I should. I was still afraid to talk to people about what was going on inside my head and heart.

We moved to Charlotte a year and a half ago, in December 2015. We left California about six months after we started the recovery process for our marriage. My first year in Charlotte was a year of healing. Being in a new place, I was able to see everything that had been going on in my life from a new perspective. I was able to be more vulnerable with my family and my husband’s family about what was going on in our lives. I could feel myself awakening from the numbness that I had fallen into the previous two years. 

This year has been a year of clarity. We are still in counseling, but we can actually see the light at the edge of the woods now, rather than just darkness. I finally feel alive again. I am learning that even though isolating myself is my default, in the long run it does more harm than good. There are actually studies that show that isolation and loneliness can be harmful to a person’s mental, emotional, and even physical well being. We as humans are not meant to live life in complete isolation. 

I am still figuring out what all this means for me. While I would rather spend a Friday night knitting or sewing (and most other nights of the week, honestly!), I am learning to step out of my comfort zone and find ways to form relationships with others, whether it is joining a Bloc, tutoring, or coaching. It is definitely still a learning process for me, and I still struggle with even talking with people at times without feeling super awkward. But I know that I am on the right path. I am growing and transforming right now, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

 

If any of this resonated with you, or if you would just like to talk, please feel free to email me: abbie@watershedcharlotte.com.

Volunteer Friday #15

Volunteer Friday #15

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet David!

DAVID HARRIS

Volunteer Area(s): I play in the both the regular worship band and the GreenHouse band. 

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

Before Watershed I was playing in a couple of bands that had broken up. I was complaining one day to Greg Lilley, the drummer in one of those, about not having anywhere to play anymore. He said that had been recruited by this new "church plant” and suggested I give that a shot. Before I really knew what happened I found myself on stage at Actors Theater for the second Sunday of Watershed’s existence. I think I called Matt "Scott" and Scott "Matt" for the first year but eventually I got that squared away. Lots of things have changed since then but I still enjoy playing music here every chance I get. It is a blessing indeed to share the stage and listen to all these wonderful and talented people.  

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

Back in the early days and sometimes even now the band will put itself out there a bit and really showcase our many talented members. Usually as a performer I am too focused to just listen and enjoy. The best moments for me are when I am sitting out there in the crowd watching my friends bring the house down with something unexpected and awesome. Sorry, I really couldn’t pick just one. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Family.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

I enjoy Charlotte most when I can get outside and enjoy the great weather. Also, no day can truly be great without good friends and live music. Mix all that up and that is about as good as it gets for me. 

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE ELIZABETH BENFIELD WATSON BECAUSE... She has been quietly serving for Watershed for a quite a while as A Bloc leader, Greeter, and Cafe volunteer. She is a great example of what makes our community special and deserves a little time in the spotlight. 

Volunteer Friday #14

Volunteer Friday #14

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Courtney!

COURTNEY CRAVEN

Volunteer Area(s): Café, Co-Leader of a HER: Grow Bloc

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I was asked several years ago to fill in for a friend serving in Café.  I dreaded having to get up early on a Sunday, but it wasn’t so bad! It was actually fun meeting new people, as well as other leaders and staff members at Watershed. At the time there were paper programs we had to assemble, as well as baked goods to set out, so it was a lot more involved than it is now. After volunteering a few times, I was asked to Point Lead. It was an easy decision. I’m an extrovert so I enjoy greeting people and making them feel welcome. And by then I had a good grasp of what needed to happen behind the scenes before folks showed up to attend service.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

There was a family who visited one morning and their daughter had a total meltdown in the foyer. I could tell they were annoyed and maybe a bit embarrassed. I welcomed them, escorted them down to GreenHouse, and hoped they’d come back. They visited a few weeks later and I made a point to say hey. Just recently I saw one of them volunteering with our tech team. It was so cool to see that progression, from a family just testing the waters, to getting plugged in to our community. I feel like maybe I played a small part in that decision.

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Outsidethebox(does that count?)

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

Enjoying a good margarita on a patio somewhere (the El Cheapo at Cabo Fish Taco is one of my faves), browsing art and eclectic shops (the shrine at Pura Vida is worth checking out), ending the day with some live music at the Visulite Theater.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE DAVID HARRIS BECAUSE... I MET DAVE WHEN HE WAS IN A LOCAL BAND CALLED THE DICKENS. WHEN I FIRST VISITED WATERSHED HE WAS ONE OF ONLY TWO PEOPLE I KNEW HERE. DAVE IS VERY PASSIONATE ABOUT MUSIC AND IS A GREAT ADVOCATE FOR LOCAL MUSICIANS. NOT ONLY DOES HE PLAY IN OUR MAIN SERVICES, HE ALSO VOLUNTEERS HIS TIME WITH THE GREENHOUSE BAND. 

Volunteer Friday #13

Volunteer Friday #13

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Ashlee!

ASHLEE JONES

Volunteer Area(s): Greenhouse (Sprouts!) & I co-lead a Women's Bloc

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I jumped into Sprouts after going through Preface about three years ago to really dig into the community that I was calling home! Being around kids has always been something I enjoyed so it was an easy transition. I got thrown into co-leading the Bloc a couple of years ago with Monica McGuire and it's been quite the adventure!

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

I absolutely adore being in the Sprouts room! That age group is so fun because they are so active and inquisitive but they also just want to snuggle up at times. It's so fun to watch as they grow through the year and we get to be apart of that!

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Comforting.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

Spending the day at the White Water Center! I love that this amazing outdoor space is so close to the city! I love going through the different ropes courses, the zip lines and ending with paddle boarding and relaxing by the river.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE COURTNEY CRAVEN... BECAUSE SHE'S INCREDIBLE! SHE CO-LEADS A BLOC I AM APART OF AND JUST INSERTS HERSELF INTO THE WATERSHED COMMUNITY WHOLE-HEARTEDLY. PLUS, MANY PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW THAT SHE'S A PRETTY AWESOME SONG WRITER AND VOCALIST. ;) 

Volunteer Friday #12

Volunteer Friday #12

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Jeremy!

JEREMY EDWARDS

Volunteer Area(s): Set-Up

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

It is not a glamorous area but one that is vital to our Sunday Gatherings.  I really enjoy getting to listen to the band practice while we setup chairs and it puts my mind in a good place for the message being given that day.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

There have been numerous moments but one of the best moments was when all the guys in setup at the time decided to go to Guatemala within the span of setting up one morning, those are bonds and memories I'll never forget. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Home. It's where I feel safe, welcomed, and not judged.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

Non-Football season, it's a great Sunday Gathering followed by a run on one of the many Greenways around. During Football season, it's sharing a great meal with friends prior to a home game.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE ASHLEE JONES... BECAUSE SHE WAS WITH THE GROUP OF US FROM THE SETUP TEAM THAT WENT TO GUATEMALA.

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What Is Justice? IV | Restorative Justice Via Blessing

What Is Justice? IV | Restorative Justice Via Blessing

From inception Watershed has sought to put justice at the forefront of our mission. Whether embedded into the themes of pop culture artifacts or real life events in our city, nation, and world, justice has become a hot topic. Over the course of the next few weeks Pastor of Justice Cedric Lundy is going to conduct a blog series aimed at unpacking our understanding of justice and why it’s fundamental to our community. 


What’s enough? Abram and Lot both had more than enough wealth in the economy of the ancient world and yet there was seemingly not enough land to support both of them dwelling together. There was strife between the herdsmen of their livestock. Unlike Cain and Abel they come to an agreement that the tension needed to be resolved, but how? They decided to separate.

Rewind a chapter in the book of Genesis and we see the promise that God gives to Abram to bless him, make of him a great nation, and to bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him, and in him all families of the earth shall be blessed.

Blessed is an interesting word. Now-a-days we largely use it to say that we’ve experienced some sort of divinely appointed stroke of good fortune, like an upfront parking spot at the mall on a Saturday, or to shut down a conversation on how we’re really doing. However, in ancient Jewish thought it was much more than simple good fortune accredited to the divine. To be blessed by someone was to be fortunate because someone was present to you. To bless another was to literally be with someone, to be present.

With that in mind, Lot was the first person mentioned to bless or be with Abram after God made the promise to bless or be present with Abram. Abram left behind everything he had known, his country and his kindred, to chase after what probably seemed like foolishness to everyone. Everyone except Lot who decides he is going to remain present with his uncle. Yet here they are about to separate because their herdsmen can’t get along, and it’s about to turn ugly.

In the account we receive in scripture it appears that Lot truly was cursed after separating from Abram. In Genesis 14 Lot and all he possess is taken captive in a war in the region where he settled. In Genesis 19 Lot barely escapes Sodom and Gomorrah before it is destroyed. A widower and completely broken and afraid, Lot, with his daughters, decided to live in a cave in the hills.

A cave… let that sink in for a minute. How scared, how scarred, how broken would you have to be by war and injustice to decide that the best, most safe place would be in a cave in the middle of nowhere? But wait, it gets better, and by better I mean worse.

We are told that, while in the cave in isolation having given up hope of having husbands, Lot’s daughters devise a plan to get their father drunk and have sex with him in order to get pregnant. Regardless of whether or not this is true or really happened, the point the text is making is that one of the sons of this incestuous encounter would be credited as the father of the Moabites who went on to be one of Israel’s enemies for generations to come.

For generations after, the offspring of Lot would be a curse to the offspring of Abram and their very existence considered a curse solely based on their origin via incest. How is it that the very first person to bless Abram in whom “all the families of the earth would be blessed” would come to be the poster child of accursed? It seems rather unjust, plain just not right.

That is until a young widow traveled back to the native land and kin of her mother-in-law.

In the hands of modern readers the story of Ruth as put forth in the sacred scriptures has often been used to promote godly womanhood. It’s been used to encourage and instill hope in those whose lives turned tragic. Yet, it’s not about godly womanhood nor is it really about God redeeming an individual. It’s about redemption and restoration of a family, an uncle and his nephew. It’s about a blessing becoming a curse becoming a blessing all over again.

Ruth is a Moabite, a daughter descended from Lot, and her new husband Boaz is an Israelite, a son descended from Abram. In the small book of Ruth we see what was understood to be, by ancient Jewish scholars, God joining back together two things that had been separated, Abram and Lot, in preparation for the arrival of God’s anointed King David. Ruth ends with a brief genealogy that places David as the great grandson of Boaz and Ruth.

So what is the significance of this story to our understanding of restorative justice?

One, the divine’s mode of operation when it comes to bringing about justice from injustice in our world seems to be through blessing or presence. The divine promises to bless Abram is presented as the catalyst to bless all the families of the earth.

Secondly, as alluded to already, Judaism understood or interpreted the sacred scriptures by looking for patterns that grew into something larger greater more inclusive and all-encompassing. King David is often seen as the archetype for “The Lord’s Anointed” who is most fully realized in the Messiah or Jesus The Christ. Jesus, who announced the poor, the meek, and the hungry, the very people who were most often associated with being cursed by God, were in fact blessed by God.

Taking those things into account could it be that the beginning of practicing restorative justice is as simple and complex as blessing others? Could it be that the beginning of restorative justice is to look for those who are separate and bring them back in? To be present to those who are broken, scared and scarred? To be joined with those who are often seen as a curse?

At Watershed we are energized by seeing people in our community who practice restorative justice by being a blessing to the marginalized, the excluded, the separate, and the other. There are no quick fixes. No fly by rescue missions. Truly restorative justice also restores us one to another so that we can be truly present to each other, fully human.

POUR OVER: The Next Step

POUR OVER: The Next Step

What would each of our staff members share if we had the chance to sit down with you one-on-one over a cup of coffee? What is God doing in our lives, and how are we personally experiencing transformation and awakening? Pour Over is a blog series by our Watershed staff members answering those very questions. Today we'll hear from Becky Santoro, Watershed's Children's Pastor.


I guess it’s always been there. Always in the background, though. I’d pass a poster with a sign on it or I’d have student in my class who would identify as it. I’d talk about it, try to imagine it, and try to dismiss it. But a few summers ago, the voice got louder and my heart kept saying, “if not you, who?”

So I brought it up over dinner on our tenth wedding anniversary. 

Becoming foster care parents. 

We had just started a full-time business, we had a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, and I had recently transitioned to a full-time position at Watershed. Our house is tiny… 1,000 square feet. We are still paying off student loans, our family lives thousands of miles away. I could list literally 50 more reasons at least about why this just wasn’t the “right time” for us on paper. But he agreed and a few weeks later we decided to take just one step forward. Just one. And we set a rule for ourselves: if at any point we decided “not now” or “no”, we’d give ourselves a ton of grace and turn back. 

Just one step at a time. That’s it.

So we went to an informational class. And we didn’t talk the whole time. And then we sat in the car and we were still silent.

“Well?” I finally said.

“It’s time to take another step, don’t you think?” he said.

“Yep.”

And that’s how the next 10 months went. 

One step.

Then the next one.

It was the classes, the paperwork, the conversations, the inviting of our closest friends to bear witness to the process and give their perspectives, the background checks, and the home inspections.

In all of it, we didn’t move away from that “next step thinking”. Each time we tried to live just in that step… not overthinking or forward planning too much. It allowed us to just be where we were and to stay mentally present. When a new decision needed to be made, we wouldn’t think beyond that one decision.

It was really freeing in a way. Our “next step thinking” took the pressure off knowing all the answers and we found that it allowed us to stay grounded and rooted into what we both felt was best with the knowledge we had at the time. It took six months until we found ourselves fully licensed foster care parents.

Maybe there’s something inside your heart or gut that keeps coming up. It might not make any sense to you on paper and you can easily sweep it under the rug, but in the quiet spaces of your mind, it lives. 

There is so much power that exists in taking just one step… especially when you can figure it out as you go, allowing yourself to take your time and live within each new step fully. Maybe today is the day you finally take that step. Don’t overthink it. Just one step, friends.

Or maybe you’ve taken a step… several, even… but that next step would mean you’d have to let go of something. Perhaps to the known, secure, comfortable way of life, or even a past belief. You’re not sure if you’re ready for that quite yet. Grace upon grace, friends.

On July 21st, 2016, our next step was the final home inspection. Less than a hour later we received the call (side note: If you ever wondered if there was a need for foster care parents here in Charlotte, I believe you just found your answer).

“Baby girl, one year old. Local to Charlotte. Will you take her?”

Our next step was saying yes. 

Literally overnight we became a family of five. Now we’ve been saying yes for 258 days and counting. It has been redemptive, exhausting, transformational, frustrating, beautiful, disruptive, fulfilling, complicated, joyful, and messy all at the same time. But it has also shifted. We no longer have the power to take a “next step.” We’re on the same step with no clear timeline or outcome in sight.

We are waiting.

It’s hard to stay in the “next step thinking” when you don’t have control over it, right? 

Maybe there is something that has you in a holding pattern… you’ve been there for awhile and you feel frozen. It’s out of your control with no “next step” in sight. There may never be if you’re honest.

Or maybe you are faced with taking the next step knowing there is a real possibility that it won’t breathe the outcome you hope for, and you’re wondering if it’s worth the risk.

Or maybe the next step was decided for you.

I’m there too.

We aren’t sure if or when she will leave us. We’re not sure if a day in the future will include us packing her bags for uniting/reuniting with members of her family, or if it will include joining our family permanently. Either way, it will be a celebration. Either way, there will be bittersweet tears. But right now, there is no next step. It’s just the waiting. 

And so I wait on this step and I am trying to learn how to become more self-aware in this season when my mind and soul are weary for answers and outcomes. I try to visualize myself physically planting my feet down and dwelling within this step, JUST within today, in this moment, in this tiny house as a temporary or permanent family of 5.

So… What is God doing in my life, and how am I personally experiencing transformation and awakening? 

He’s teaching me that He’s in the “one steps” with me.

He’s in the waiting and we’re co-creating this story together. 

He's showing me what real living looks like… it’s not in the huge shifts but in the everyday, right-now life.

It’s simple, it’s holy, and it’s hard work to stay put in a moment of time. So I dwell there, with Him. 

These days I’m taking notice of my breath, my habits, and my triggers, trying to become more aware of myself and His presence when I want to jump off of the step or rush ahead to find out how this story will end. And I’m reaching out to my people, the ones standing there with me, reminding me that this story is all of ours, too.

Today, may you take a step forward into your life and discover more of your true self in the process. May it include walking into someone elses brokenness and finding that this was meant for the redemption of your own brokenness as well. May you have people around you who can root for you and remind you that they’re standing on the step with you. 

And may you feel His presence and Spirit in the waiting like you’ve never felt before.

 

P.S. If we actually did sit down for coffee there are five things I could promise you:

  1. There will be smashed goldfish crackers in my coat pocket. 
  2. I’ll have a random sock in my purse.
  3. This will be my 4th cup of coffee.
  4. There'll be snot on my pants… exactly at the height of a 3-year-old.
  5. I won’t do small talk very long. Let’s get right into the heart. 

Now that we've got that out of the way, welcome. Let’s chat.

In case our journey to foster care spurred some questions about the process, maybe your first step is to just click HERE and learn more about it: http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/dss/adopt/howto/Pages/FosterHomeLicensing.aspx 

What is Justice? III | Injustice More or Less

What is Justice? III | Injustice More or Less

From inception Watershed has sought to put justice at the forefront of our mission. Whether embedded into the themes of pop culture artifacts or real life events in our city, nation, and world, justice has become a hot topic. Over the course of the next few weeks Pastor of Justice Cedric Lundy is going to conduct a blog series aimed at unpacking our understanding of justice and why it’s fundamental to our community. 


So often when discussing Genesis 3 it is easy to get sidetracked asking questions about the tree and the fruit, why God put it there, and why the punishment for eating from the wrong tree so severe. A very literal reading of Genesis 3 raises all kinds of questions that are difficult to answer. On the other hand, reading Genesis 3 as a story which explains the realities of the way things are may supply us with more epiphanies of understanding about what happened, is happening, and will continue to happen if we repeat their course of action when faced with similar dilemmas.

Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil may actually have little to do with good and evil as we’ve come to understand. It may have nothing to do with mankind being exposed to something outside of their person and a battle between good and evil, the light and the dark. Is fruit really about good versus evil? Clearly in the first two chapters God didn’t set up a world of opposing planes of positive and negative. This is best illustrated by the fact that God makes the sun to mark the day and the moon to mark the night. Nowhere in the creation narrative is there an inference that the night is intrinsically bad or the day better than the night. The day and the night are two halves of a whole, a day, and together they are good.

Maybe a better name for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil would be "the tree of what’s enough”.

In the story of the fall Adam and Eve aren’t tempted to eat from that which they’ve been instructed until they are deceived into thinking that the tree is offering more. They are led to believe by eating the fruit that they can be more. Prior to being deceived into thinking they were missing out and that there was more, they were happy with what they had. They were satisfied with who they are, their relationship with God, one another and with the rest of creation. They didn’t feel as though they were missing out on something by not eating from that tree because, at the end of the day, it’s just one tree amongst a multitude of trees.

It is the first time in their lives that they are faced with the question of whether or not they had enough. It is the first time in their lives they consider that they aren’t enough. They took the bait, and, as a result, good and evil entered the world in the constant conundrum of more or less. At the heart of ‘what’s enough’ is the moral dilemma of more or less.

Shalom is not simply the absence of evil because everything is good and everything is good because God didn’t create anything intrinsically evil. Shalom is the idea that there is harmony between the creator and his creation and the creation with itself because the creator has given and supplied all of his creation with enough. The Fall, or disordering of Shalom, began as soon as Adam and Eve acted on the belief that they were no longer enough and desired more by taking and eating. In that moment they had to choose between taking more, believing they weren’t enough, or choosing less believing they were enough. The irony being that they opted for more and in return they had less. Immediately upon eating the fruit they felt like less, ashamed of their nakedness. Feeling like less led them to take more. The clothes served the purpose of covering what they were now ashamed of, their bodies. Not that making clothes is an inherently bad thing, however how much more has our feeling like less cost creation?

It’s worth noting there is no indication of them being ashamed of what they did. They were ashamed of what they were. Who they were was no longer enough. They felt less about themselves and in response they took something because their shame required more. Ultimately the common thread of the curses God pronounces to Adam and Eve is a lack of trust that has resulted from them believing they didn’t have enough and taking more. Mankind doesn’t trust God, mankind doesn’t trust one another, and the rest of creation doesn’t trust mankind. There’s enmity between the man and the woman, the plants grow thorns, and with great pain and anguish we multiply and provide for ourselves.

Unfortunately the struggle with what’s enough and for more or less continued immediately. In the following narratives of scripture Cain kills Abel, angry that it seems what he offers to the divine is not enough (ironically, in an agricultural civilization, God’s favor was perceived through the lens of receiving more or less of what ever was offered). In the days of Noah prior to the flood men are described as taking “as their wives any they chose.” The tower of babel just builds up on top of itself instead of expanding outward away from it self to include the world beyond its walls. 

How many injustices can we observe in our world today and in the annals of history that were sparked by the question, “what is enough?” How much blood has been spilled and stomachs stayed hollow due to the endless cycle of some having more, some having less, but neither one having enough? Some have more but feel like they can never have enough and so they take more. Others have less. They literally don’t have enough food, clothing, education, resources, etc. Countless wars have been started simply because someone wanted more, and countless revolutions were sparked because others were tired of less.

How many injustices can we observe in our world persist because of the cycle of shame and blame? We feel ashamed of who we are and we blame or scapegoat others for the things we feel ashamed of instead of dealing with the real problem which is resolving the question of what is enough.  

So whether or not we read Genesis 3 as an actual historical event or a metaphor, I’m sure we can all agree that it happened and is happening. We consider what’s enough, and we more or less decide it’s not.

What Is Justice? II  |  "In the Beginning"

What Is Justice? II | "In the Beginning"

From inception Watershed has sought to put justice at the forefront of our mission. Whether embedded into the themes of pop culture artifacts or real life events in our city, nation, and world, justice has become a hot topic. Over the course of the next few weeks Pastor of Justice Cedric Lundy is going to conduct a blog series aimed at unpacking our understanding of justice and why it’s fundamental to our community. 


“This social justice agenda is an add on to the gospel by liberals and progressive Christians, but it has no biblical basis.” I simply replied, “Well as a Pastor of Justice, I’m just going to have to disagree with you. I can assure you there is tons of biblical basis for justice, social or otherwise.”

I don’t think my friend meant offense by what he said. He wasn’t trying to get my goat. He was simply just sharing an opinion on the current cultural and political landscape of our country. It didn’t surprise me to hear a comment like that. In all honesty I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that a lot of Christians believe there is no biblical basis for social justice. I’ve heard other pastors refer to “social gospels” as though it were some well meaning, but ultimately neutering of the “real” gospel. That somehow a “social” gospel is a gospel with an agenda that wasn’t Christ’s agenda and relies on non-biblical sources to make its case. Martin Luther King Jr. was often criticized by the Christian community for being a socialist.

The truth is that taking out the portions of scripture where justice is explicit or even implicit would be like removing the advertisements out of Cosmopolitan magazine. You’d be left with little more than the binding and a few seemingly random pages. The fact that we’d need to emphasize the gospel being “social” is evidence that our default gospel telling is set to “self-center”. It should be no surprise that the biblical basis for social justice starts at the beginning; the very beginning of the biblical narrative in the book of Genesis.

What makes for a just space? Judaism has a one word for that which dates back to ancient times. Shalom. In English shalom translates to peace, which unfortunately does not begin to capture the robustness of what Judaism was trying to communicate. Our usage of peace typically means the absence of conflict. The picture the writers of Genesis paints of the beginning is absent of conflict, but it is also absent of any signs of life. The earth is described as being “without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep.”

What happens next and its significance is often lost on those who want to debate on whether or not it should be taken literally. We are witnesses to the fact that the earth is not formless and devoid of light and life. We know that the earth is teeming with life and light and beauty of seemingly infinite form. Far from being empty, it is full.

Genesis gives its own poetic account of the divine speaking creating and declaring good things on the earth. The divine creates entire social system of plant life, wildlife and human beings all “blessed” with the ability to continue the creation process or as the writer simply puts multiply! At the end of their work the divine looks at the earth and declares it all very good.

But what is good about it?

This is where the Jewish understanding of peace or shalom is tantamount. It is good because there is complete and undeterred individual and corporate harmony between and amongst every inch of the earth and its creatures. If Genesis 1 had a theme song, Radiohead’s “Everything In Its Right Place” seems the obvious choice. Shalom is the idea that everything is as it ought to be.

Justice depends on the idea that our world, and everything in it, was good and is good. Justice is the belief that whatever has gone wrong with our world can be made right. Justice is the ethic that our goodness as mankind is tied together with the goodness of this world we inhabit. Creation didn’t end after the sixth day. Most everything that fills the earth was bestowed a blessing to continue the creation process by being fruitful and multiplying. In the Genesis 2 account mankind is explicitly invited into the vocation of creating more when God tells them to work the ground and keep it. Eden had no boundaries no fence no limits. It was always meant to go forth and expand. The world is the showcase for our creative endeavors that multiply and expand goodness and thicken shalom.

Last but certainly not least shalom is also the idea that everyone and everything has enough. Some have more and some have less but everyone has enough. Everyone and everything have enough to contribute to the increase and expanse of good in our world. Everyone and everything have enough to keep inadequacy, or shame, and guilt or blame out of the equation.

Justice recognizes when this isn’t the case and springs into action to make things right. To pursue, at times what seems impossible, shalom. For things to no longer simply be the way they are, nor the way they could be, but to be how it ought to be.

At Watershed we are energized by seeing people in our community who see the absence of shalom and respond by using their resources, ingenuity, and creativity in unison with others, to bring about shalom. That’s how we know people really truly understand what justice is, why it’s needed, and that it is inherently social. 

Volunteer Friday #11

Volunteer Friday #11

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Derek!

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DEREK WHITMIRE

Volunteer Area(s): Set-up Team, Catapult at Byers
 

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

Set-up team started several years ago after some very endearing arm twisting from Matt O'Neil. Then I got to know some of the great guys who are there at 7:30 a.m. every Sunday and it feels cool to be a part of the unsung heroes behind the scenes.

I started tutoring at Byers in 2012 shortly after returning from a Watershed trip to Guatemala. That trip forever changed how I viewed generosity and investing in people to glorify God. Catapult is one of the single greatest things we do as a community and I'm so grateful to have met the most amazing family in the process who I now consider to be a part of my family.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

Last summer my wife and I we're able to purchase a used mini van for the mother of our Byers kids. The generous donations from so many of you at Watershed left me in awe of our community and what God is capable of after a big leap of faith. Taking a 42-year-old mother of seven children to pick up the first vehicle she's ever owned and watching her sign the title with tears in her eyes was easily the best moment yet. 

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Enduring.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

18 holes in the morning, all Charlotte sports teams win, then a friends gathering at Cantina with never ending queso.

 

I'D LOVE TO SEE ONE OF OUR BEARDED ALL STARS, JEREMY EDWARDS FEATURED NEXT. HE IS MR. RELIABLE AT ORCHESTRATING THE SET-UP EACH SUNDAY MORNING AND HAS NEVER ONCE YELLED AT ME FOR BEING LATE, SLOW, OR HALF ASLEEP.

What Is Justice?

What Is Justice?

From inception Watershed has sought to put justice at the forefront of our mission. Whether embedded into the themes of pop culture artifacts or real life events in our city, nation, and world, justice has become a hot topic. Over the course of the next few weeks Pastor of Justice Cedric Lundy is going to conduct a blog series aimed at unpacking our understanding of justice and why it’s fundamental to our community. 


The dictionary definition of justice is as follows…

“The maintenance or administration of what is just, especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments. The principle or ideal of just dealing or right action.”

Undoubtedly pop culture has shaped our understanding of justice. We have a plethora of television shows movies and comic book heroes who administer justice by pursuing evildoers and holding them accountable for their misdeeds. However, they most often present an incomplete picture of justice. The collateral damage in the form of property damage created during the heroine’s pursuit is usually glossed over. There are some exceptions.

Pixar’s The Incredibles builds a story where the collateral damage develops a major plot point. It leads to a flood of lawsuits that eventually leads to legislation forcing the supers to go into hiding. The movie Hancock starring Will Smith picks up a similar theme. Ever since watching those movies I find myself thinking about the millions dollars in property damage caused by the Avengers, Superman’s final battle with Zod in Man of Steel and not to be out done the Transformers franchise. Point being, we often have an incomplete understanding of what justice truly is evidenced by the popular stories we tell and consume.

On the other hand the Christian scriptures present a complete picture of justice one often easily missed. Many are familiar with Christian traditions where the climactic point in the story is when God banishes evildoers and the unrighteous to eternal punishment and suffering for their crimes.

However it has often left a huge unresolved issue, “What about Earth and all of creation?”

Many of the same Christian traditions would reply by indicating that Earth is destroyed after the saints are relocated to heaven, which only causes people to balk even further. Imagine a story where the heroines only save the inhabitants of Earth and not Earth itself?

You needn’t think too hard if you’ve seen the movie Interstellar. I absolutely love that movie, but I can’t help but wonder if I’d feel slightly different about it if the lasting image or scene from that movie was a dead and desolate Earth with no signs of life instead of a father who has literally crossed space and time to be reunited with his daughter. We get so lost in the image of Cooper boarding a ship to go find Brand all alone on her planet that we’ve all but forgotten that while the remaining humans have managed to escape there is no justice for planet Earth (as I’m writing this it's suddenly occurred to me that it appears they left all the animals there to die as well).

On the contrary, that depiction of the biblical narrative is an incomplete one. The story doesn’t end with Earth destroyed. It ends, or, better put, re-begins, with Earth being renewed. The saints don’t go up to heaven, heaven comes down to Earth. The original vision of heavens and Earth joined together without separation is recast.

In the same way something is missing when super heroes can ride off into the sunset satisfied that they’ve brought the villain to account while the city crumbles literally and financially, there is something missing when we paint the Divine as only concerned with saving souls... and matter does not matter. Assuming we all agree that all matter matters, Christians who promote this incomplete story need to be reminded that the Earth Matters (too!).

The end of the Bible in Revelation is not the only place where we see this picture of Earth being restored and renewed. It is mentioned in the similar language in the prophesies of Isaiah.

“For behold, I create new heaven and a new Earth…”

“They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat.”

“The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall ear straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,’ says the Lord.”

All that being said, a complete yet simple definition of justice is “putting the wrongs to rights”. In the super hero movies it would look like the Avengers working to help restore and rebuild the cities that were laid waste in their epic battles to defeat their adversaries. In Harry Potter it would be Harry using the Elder Wand quickly to rebuild and restore Hogwarts before snapping it half and tossing it into the Black Lake (that always bothers me when I watch it). 

With the exception of Potter, where it’s as simple as a waving of his wand and everything magically coming back together like new, a scene where we see the process of justice come to completion isn’t a climatic high point. Justice, the real substantial justice that we long for, is long and slow. It doesn’t happen over night. The pains and wrongs of this world didn’t happen over night, so it only makes sense for the real work of justice to be long and slow as well.

When we talk about justice at Watershed, it is with this understanding of justice.

When we look at the Christian scriptures we can’t help but be drawn to this over-arching theme of the Divine creating an entire world worth saving, not just its inhabitants. We see a God who is deeply invested in putting the world to rights. We see a God who is about long, and sometimes painfully slow, justice as He communes with mankind and equips us, the vulnerable ones in this equation, to be a part of bringing justice to His good creation.

Sure, Harry Potter could have used the Elder Wand to repair and restore Hogwarts in an instant, but I have to admit that there is something beautifully communal and healing for all who considered Hogwarts home to pocket their wands and get their hands dirty. There is a new level of ownership they’d all have by forgoing the quick, easy, sanitary way of rebuilding.

In the process, maybe they’d find some semblance of healing themselves as well.

 

11 Things You May Not Know About ArtPop

11 Things You May Not Know About ArtPop

September marked Watershed's eleventh year as a community! To celebrate, each month until next September we’re bringing you a list of ELEVEN things someone in our community is passionate about. In addition to picking up some interesting new knowledge, we hope this series will help you get to know a handful of the incredible people who call Watershed home!


February’s ELEVEN list comes from Watershedder Wendy Hickey, the Executive Director and Founder of ArtPop! ArtPop's mission is to promote local artists' work and make art accessible to communities through available media space. 

Wendy says, "ArtPop is my heart and soul and I hope to make ArtPop my full time job one day soon. Helping artists jumpstart their careers and leading successful lives as professional artists is a dream come true."

While helping launch the careers of local artists is ArtPop's priority, a by-product of the mission is that communities are being exposed to art without having to seek it out. ArtPop brings art to the masses. They understand the need for galleries and museums, but believe that art has no boundaries and desire to bring art to you!

Wendy believes Art is powerful, art is healing, and art has the ability to transform and bring together divided communities. She also believes we need art in our lives now more than ever.  

Without further ado...

11 Things You May Not Know About ArtPop

1) Art + Public Outdoor Project = ArtPop

2) Our mission is to promote local artists’ work and make art accessible to communities through available media space.

3) ArtPop is a 501c3 and headquartered right here in Plaza Midwood. 

4) ArtPop has 8 members on the Board of Directors, all located here in Charlotte!  We are all volunteers.

5) We are seeking fundraisers, sponsors and grant writers to help our cause, know anyone? Send them our way

6) Since our inception in Charlotte in 2014 we have featured the work of 80 different local #CLT area artists in our program. 

7) We are on the streets of 11 cities today, with 163 artists in the program so far!  

8) We are opening 3 brand new cities this year to include Charleston, SC, Nashville, TN, and Columbus, OH. 

9) In addition to the artists work on billboards, the artists can also be seen on Uptown CLT news racks and on a digital billboard at Ballantyne Village... more to come!  

10) We are changing the lives and careers of local artists.

11) We hope to bring the program all over the world one day, see where we are so far at ArtPopStreetGallery.com click on the ART tab and then click on the thumbnails! 

Thanks for educating us about ArtPop, Wendy! We love how you use your passions and talents to help others and work to make Charlotte a more interesting, beautiful place! To learn more about Wendy and ArtPop, listen Co-Pastor Matt O'Neil interview her from stage during our 2017 Stogies & Stilettos series. 

Do you have an interesting 11 list you'd like us to consider? We'd love to hear your idea! Tell us about it here.

Volunteer Friday #10

Volunteer Friday #10

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Evan!

Evan ERWIN

Volunteer Area(s): Greeting Team, Catapult at Byers

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I enjoy helping greet people who visit Watershed and assist in answering any questions or alleviating any concerns. My wife and I live close to Byers and it has been a great opportunity to get involved in our neighborhood in addition to investing in the life of an amazing young student.

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

It has been really fun working with Caleb and watching his ability and confidence grow as we work on his reading and life skills.

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Loving.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

Any activity with my wife and friends... 

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE derek WHITmire... HE is an amazing, selfless volunteer who pours into our church and the charlotte community!

Volunteer Friday #9

Volunteer Friday #9

WELCOME TO VOLUNTEER FRIDAY!

Every other Friday we take a moment to introduce you to someone in our community who serves in one or more of Watershed's many volunteer areas: GreenHouse/Shed StudentsSunday TeamsCatapultBloc Leading, etc. The featured volunteer will then select someone he/she would like to see highlighted next.

This week, meet Kayla!

KAYLA ERWIN

Volunteer Area(s): Info Table

Why did you choose to volunteer in each of your areas?

I volunteer as a greeter because welcoming others is something I love to do. I think a person's first interaction with a church is so vital to how the rest of their experience is received, especially if that person is new! Giving a smile and a "good morning" isn't much, but if it can help someone feel seen and valued, then the reality is we're on the front lines of demonstrating what kind of community Watershed has to offer!

What has been one of your favorite moments as a volunteer? 

My favorite moments volunteering are when I connect with someone I didn't know before. Another favorite moment of mine come from my husband, Evan. You might know Evan as the man who holds the door while delivering a variety of boisterous greetings. Some of my favorite moments from the info booth have occurred during the lull of welcoming people. During those times I can usually expect some sort of entertainment (usually dancing) from my husband.

If you could use only one word to describe our Watershed community, what would it be

Authentic

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte:

My perfect day in Charlotte involves exploring the city with my husband, Evan, and our fur-child Trotter.

 

NEXT I'D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE EVAN ERWIN... HE'D LOVE TO TELL YOU ALL ABOUT HIMSELF, AND ALSO WHO WOULDN'T WANT BACK-TO-BACK ERWIN PROFILES TAKING OVER THE WATERSHED BLOG?