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Adventure Awaits: Camp Tekoa 2018!

Adventure Awaits: Camp Tekoa 2018!

WATERSHED SUMMER CAMP AT CAMP TEKOA

Watershed is excited to announce our second year of summer camp experiences for children and students ages 7-17!  Your child is invited to spend a week (or half week depending on age) with us at Camp Tekoa, a beautiful camp nestled in the mountains of Hendersonville, NC. This camp is a beloved summer camp of some of our Watershed GreenHouse/Shed Student leaders not only because they attended the same camp as children, but because they have been sending their own kids there as well for the past few years. We have tested the waters and we know you will love this place!

This Watershed summer camp experience is sure to be unforgettable for your child. Children will get to experience God in the context of nature and enjoy community with their fellow GreenHouse and/or Shed Student friends. Plus they are going to have a ton of fun given all the amenities and activities at Camp Tekoa. From arts and crafts to ziplines, swimming and campfires, adventure awaits your child!

Are you new to the whole camp thing? Never fear! Camp Tekoa offers ways to send your little campers email during their time away and they even have secured photos posted throughout the week so you can follow along with your child's journey!

Although registration will be done directly through Camp Tekoa, we ask that you respond to Watershed Children's Pastor Becky Santoro before registering so we can keep track of which Watershed families are also taking part in camp and help resource you with possible carpooling/transportation and child roommate request opportunities. Fill out this form to express interest and get in touch with her!


WATERSHED CAMP TKO WEEK 8: JULY 29TH-AUGUST 4TH, 2018

MINI CAMP (Ages 7-9): There is an option for first time and young campers to spend just half a week at camp. These shorter sessions give your new camper a taste of everything and might be more cost effective. Cost is $270.
FULL WEEK CAMP (Ages 8-17): This is the classic camp experience. From the thrill of the zipline to various lake activities and other adventures, your elementary student is sure to have an unforgettable experience! Cost is $570. 

A minimum $50 non-refundable and non-transferable deposit by electronic check, Visa, Mastercard, Discover or American Express is required online to reserve a camp session. The full balance for camp must be paid by May 1st, but payments can be made between February and May to make it less of a financial strain.
 

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!

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reflections

Martin Luther King Jr. Day Reflections

By Cedric Lundy, Pastor of Justice 

How does one celebrate a day like Martin Luther King Jr. Day? It’s the same question some of us ask in regards to other days similar to it: Presidents Day, Memorial Day, Veterans Day. When it comes to these federal holidays, how each day is observed, if at all, seems to be disconnected from the significance of the person or people being remembered. In the case of MLK Day, a lot of people, myself included, have taken to posting their favorite quote of King’s on social media. Yet, in large part, MLK Day serves to remind me that, while we may think of King fondly, we are still largely confounded by how to break free from the societal systems that keep us segregated.

As a junior in high school I attended an all-boy Catholic School in suburban metro Detroit. Out of the approximately 980 students at the school, 21 of us were Black Americans. It being my first year there, I was informed that school was in session on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but, since I was black, I could take an excused absence. The white students were not given the same exemption.

A few years ago I took a group of middle school students into uptown Charlotte early on a Saturday morning to pass out bag lunches and care packages to the homeless. I had a bad habit of scheduling these service opportunities on road race Saturdays, which can make getting from South Charlotte to uptown like navigating a labyrinth. On this particular day there wasn’t a race to contend with but, instead, a parade. I didn’t even know Charlotte did a MLK Day parade, but given how many black people there were in uptown that early on a Saturday morning, it wasn’t hard to figure out what was going on. It wouldn’t be far from the truth to say that my twelve or so students, all of whom were white, were the only white people to be seen on Tryon Street that morning along the parade route.  

The year the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African American Arts and Culture opened, my wife Emma and I, along with two friends of ours, went on MLK Day. The place was absolutely mobbed, however Emma and our two friends were the only white people there on a day when all of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools had the day off.

Despite his honored legacy of fighting against racial injustice and inequality (and, less mentioned, his brief foray into fighting against economic injustice and poverty), the fifty years that have passed since King’s death have proven at least one thing: the systems at the foundation of our culture and society and their penchant for keeping us divided from one another based on race and class have not been eradicated, but have merely adapted to the times. While the way we think about people of different races may have changed and become more inclusive, our society and culture have remained steadfast in keeping us excluded from one another and have allowed us to feel more familiar with race-based caricatures than actual people of different racial and cultural backgrounds. 

Our schools are still largely segregated. Our neighborhoods are still largely segregated. Our religious gathering places are largely segregated. Our work places are still largely segregated. While countless hearts have been affected by Dr. King, our societal systems have managed to persist in keeping us largely separated. 

Those of us African Americans who have managed to assimilate into the larger, dominant white society appear to be exceptions to the rule, and our assimilation often comes at a cost. We are often viewed as pariahs by those who consider us sellouts, for in their minds we have taken on the caricatures of white people in order to be accepted. And yet we are keenly aware of moments and places where we are still judged based upon the color of our skin regardless of the content of our character. Likewise, talk to white people who have either been born into a minority community or have made attempts to bridge racial divides by going into minority communities, and many will describesimilar experiences of never truly being accepted as the minority and of being viewed as misguided by their white peers.

I think if he were here today, Dr. King would be encouraged by the softening of our hearts to embrace the other, but discouraged by the resilience of our social systems to keep us separated while allowing just enough exceptions to the rule to make us feel like we are getting somewhere. I think he would challenge us to tap further into our imagination and creativity for how we can overcome together. I think he would continue to make all of us uncomfortable with our contentment with the way things are, calling us instead to press up against the system to finally realize what could be.

Adventure Awaits!

Adventure Awaits!

WATERSHED SUMMER CAMPS AT CAMP TEKOA

Watershed is excited to announce our first SUMMER CAMP experiences for children and students ages 7-17!  Your child is invited to spend a week (or half week depending on age) with us at Camp Tekoa, a beautiful camp nestled in the mountains of Hendersonville, NC. This camp is a beloved summer camp of some of our Watershed GreenHouse/Shed Student leaders not only because they attended the same camp as children, but because they have been sending their own kids there as well for the past few years. We have tested the waters and we know you will love this place!

This Watershed summer camp experience is sure to be unforgettable for your child. Children will get to experience God in the context of nature and enjoy community with their fellow GreenHouse and/or Shed Student friends. Plus they are going to have a ton of fun given all the amenities and activities at Camp Tekoa. From arts and crafts to ziplines, swimming and campfires, adventure awaits your child!

Are you new to the whole camp thing? Never fear! Camp Tekoa offers ways to send your little campers email during their time away and they even have secured photos posted throughout the week so you can follow along with your child's journey!

Although registration will be done directly through Camp Tekoa, we ask that you first respond to Watershed Camp Coordinator Tracy Strickland before registering so we can inform you of which other Watershed families are also taking part in camp on the same dates and help resource you with possible carpooling/transportation and child roommate request opportunities. Tracy is an experienced Camp Tekoa and GreenHouse parent and is happy to answer your questions! Fill out this form by February 1st to express interest and get in touch with her!


WATERSHED CAMP TEKOA WEEKS FOR ALL AGES

  1. WEEK 1: June 25-July 1
  2. WEEK 2: July 30-August 5

ELEMENTARY STUDENTS

AGES 7-9:  CHOICE OF WEEK 1 OR 2

MINI CAMP: There is an option for first time and young campers to spend just half a week at camp (either Sunday-Wednesday or Wednesday-Saturday). These shorter sessions give your new camper a taste of everything and might be more cost effective. 

Cost of mini camp is $270.

AGES 8-11: CHOICE OF WEEK 1 OR 2

FULL WEEK CAMP: Session runs Sunday-Saturday. This is the classic camp experience. From the thrill of the zipline to various lake activities and other adventures, your elementary student is sure to have an unforgettable experience! 

Cost of full week camp (called TKO for Tekoa Overnight Camp) $540.


MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENTS

AGES 11-14: CHOICE OF WEEK 1 OR 2

This full week (Sunday-Saturday) camp experience will engage your middle school student and activities will include a slip-n-slide, canoeing, a waterfall trip, a mud pit and lots of adventure. Currently we have two students from MSB Bloc signed up for Week 1 in case your middle school student would like to join in with that group! 


HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS

AGES 14-17: CHOICE OF WEEK 1 OR 2

This is full week (Sunday-Saturday) camp experience will engage your high school student and activities will include ziplines, mudpits, canoeing, rafting, campfires, a service project and much more adventure. 


To learn more about Camp Tekoa, visit the Camp Tekoa website.

Volunteer Friday #6

Volunteer Friday #6

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 Brian!

BRIAN GUILD

Volunteer Area: Greenhouse (Sprouts)

Why did you choose to volunteer in your area? 

I am a big kid so it was an easy choice for me.

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

When you dont serve every week, the kids dont always recognize you immediately. My favorite moments are when you can see the look of trust in the kid's eye because they remember you from a prior week... oh and snack time every week!

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

Ever-changing.

Describe your perfect day in Charlotte.

Pretty much doing anything with my wife. Going to eat at our favorite restaurants, hitting up our favorite brewery or zoning out all day playing co-op video games.

 

NEXT TIME I’D LIKE WATERSHED TO FEATURE MATT FRUSTI. 

POUR OVER: Emmanuel + Two Pink Lines

POUR OVER: Emmanuel + Two Pink Lines

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 invite you to sit down with Austin Smith, Watershed's Pastor of Operations & Creativity. 


How do you get to the core of who you are and uncover the thing that wakes you up and gets you out of bed every morning? What kind of questions would it take to unearth the thing deep inside of you that is really steering the ship? 

Over the past few years I have started to try to ask these kinds of questions. Not because I am necessarily on a quest to find out who I am and what I was born to do, but because I am curious. You see, these past few years have been a sort of awakening for me. It’s almost as if I was asleep for a long long time and finally I stopped dreaming and opened my eyes to reality. The natural progression of waking up would be, then, to get out of bed and to start exploring. That place is where I find myself these days. 

As I’m writing this, we are almost halfway through December and deep into the Christmas season. I’m not too much of a Christmas music fan (especially before Thanksgiving) but there is one “Christmas phrase” that has become intensely meaningful to me: God with us.  

There’s this scene in the early part of the book of Matthew where the stage is being set for Jesus’ birth. Mary and Joseph are engaged and she finds out she’s pregnant. Two pink lines that undoubtedly meant divorce for them. Verse 19 even says that “Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly.” Instead, Joseph has a life-altering dream in which an angel appears to him and tells him that Mary is going to give birth to the Divine. That his name will be Jesus and that he will be called Emmanuel, God with us. 

For a long time, that was a really nice, almost moving story. That changed when I had my son. That really nice story of God entering into humanity as a baby came to life when I saw the helplessness of my infant. I’m not aware of a more humble position to be than to exit a womb and come into this world naked and completely unable to care for yourself. And in a very real way, we have this picture of God doing that in Jesus. 

Here is where these two thoughts collide for me: in the Christmas narrative of “God with us”, I see and feel a motive from the Divine. 

The idea of somehow getting a glimpse into the nature and purpose of God is exhilarating. If somehow I got the chance to sit down with God and ask “What gets you out of bed in the morning?”, I think at least part of the answer would include this: "being with you."

For someone like me, this is comforting, but, if I can be honest, also a little terrifying. I am a doer. A task-driven person. I like to-do lists, goals, reviews, action plans and anything that moves me towards more productivity and efficiency. “God with me” isn’t exactly the action plan I’m looking for. Sounds a lot more like a passive statement than an active one. 

A few months ago I began to adopt a meditation practice. It started with an app called Headspace that focuses solely on breath work and sensation awareness. From there I started to use guided meditations with all different kinds of focuses. That’s when it clicked for me. Sitting on my couch at 5:30 in the morning, in the dark, with headphones on, I tasted what it was like just to BE. There is something other-worldly about the ability to just be. It seems to export me out of my current reality, culture and life style into a different place. 

As I spent more and more time in this passive "being" space, I noticed something interesting happening: I began to see the motivations and desires of my active life with greater clarity and definition. I began to understand what's really driving me.

Here’s a glimpse what gets me out of bed in the morning these days: 

I have a wife who is a little over half-way into the process of bringing another life into this world. And she needs me. She needs me to be strong and gentle. Caring and decisive. Aware of her needs as well as my own.

I have a second child coming into the world in a few months. And I’m not ready. I’m not the kind of person I want to be for him yet. I want to be a better dad. A better husband. A better provider. A better listener. A better man. I’m aware that there will always be more to do, but everything within me wants to have it all put together and in place before he gets here. 

I see projects on the horizon that scare me to life. Projects that are well beyond my perceived abilities, and definitely outside the realm of anything I’ve ever experienced before. The uncharted waters of the future give me life.

For the first time in a long time, all of my family (dad, mom, brother, sister and their families) are living in the same area. And there are massive opportunities to experience relationship with them unlike any other relationship I could have. The pursuit of relational worth with them gives me great amounts of drive.

So how can you pick away at the question of what drives you? How do you get to that place?

There aren’t too many things that give me life more than uncovering the deeper parts of others and of myself, and if you and I ever get to sit down over a real cup of coffee, I hope we can do just that. But for the sake of this post, let me suggest three things that might help: 

  1. Ask the question. Over and over and over again. What drives you? What wakes you up in the morning? You and I will continue to change, and the ability to change in light of who we are is imperative.
  2. Can you wrestle with the idea that God might want to just BE with you? Can you, before you try to tackle the endless list of how to live a Christian life or how to be a good person or how to understand right theology, just be with God?
  3. Can you sit alone with yourself? Can you listen and be aware of what is happening in you internally? And will you be brave enough to deal with what you find?

Merry Christmas, and may you experience "God with us" in a tangible, personal way this holiday season. 

GreenHouse Training Day

GreenHouse Training Day

GreenHouse exists to plant seeds and cultivate hearts through the lens of Jesus. It’s our hope that by the time a child leaves 5th grade they have a firm sense that God created them, that His spirit is everywhere, that we are connected to Him and others, and that justice is the heartbeat of humanity.

In order to plant these deep roots of identity, awareness, connection, and justice it takes a special group of volunteers who know how vital GreenHouse is to the growth of our littlest Watershedders!

To say that Children’s Director Becky Santoro loves her team of GreenHouse Volunteer Leaders would be an understatement! Gathering together a few Saturdays ago for a training and celebration, the team kicked off with an epic lip-sync battle (Jimmy Fallon would be so proud) and ended with pizza and a healthy competition of who knows which child developmental phase the best.

Sprinkled throughout the three hours were conversations of the new and continuing initiatives in GreenHouse. The time also allowed for reflection about how the way we viewed God as children has shaped us as adults today.... and our hopes of what a future GreenHouse graduate would say when faced with the same question one day.

When 30+ people take 3 hours out of a Saturday to learn and grow together we know we are in for an epic year. Thank you volunteers for all you have done and continue to do for our community’s children!

To learn more about GreenHouse, Watershed's Sunday morning experience for kids ages six weeks through 5th grade, email Becky.

 

The Donald and the D-Word

The Donald and the D-Word

By Ashley Sullivan

Over the weekend a video emerged depicting one of our Presidential candidates shamelessly dehumanizing a person who represents half of his constituents: women. This widely circulated video of Donald Trump and Billy Bush is obviously obnoxious and obscene, but what some people may not realize is that for many women it’s more than just an annoyance. For those who have experienced sexual abuse, harassment, exploitation, or trauma, it can be a psychological trigger for distress.

Concrete data on violence and harassment towards women is surprisingly difficult to nail down. The statistical consensus on incidence suggests that around 1 in 5 women have been victims of attempted or completed rape, and nearly 1 out of every 2 women have experienced sexual violence other than rape in their lifetimes. When it comes to harassment, a survey conducted last year found that as many as 1 in 3 women (ages 18-34) reported experiences of sexual harassment at work.

These numbers are already disturbing, but researchers agree that an enormous amount of assault and harassment cases likely go unreported, pushing the statistics into even more alarming territory. Why are such a startling number of women experiencing harassment and abuse? And what is stopping women from reporting these traumatic experiences and seeking justice for their mistreatment?

I can’t help but wonder if the answers to these questions have something to do with Trump’s apology for he and Bush’s lewd behavior. Because this is all just harmless “locker-room banter,” right? Isn’t it just another run-of-the-mill case of “boys will be boys”?

Nobody’s really getting hurt here, are they?

If viewing the video triggered an intense emotional response for you, I want you to know that it did for me too. I also want you to know that, sadly, my instinctive reaction to that intense response was to immediately question its validity.

Should I really be this upset? Am I blowing this out of proportion? Am I just being… dramatic?

AND THERE IT IS, THE D-WORD.

One of the most devastating results of our culture’s proclivity to excuse or downplay the kind of misogynistic behavior displayed by Trump and Bush is that it often leaves women wondering whether the problem is truly rooted in the actions of their abusers… or if it is simply rooted in their own “overblown” emotional responses to the abuse. How many of the reasons cited for underreporting sexual violence and harassment could be healed if women truly believed that their voices would be taken seriously when they spoke up? How many instances of abuse would never occur in the first place if we challenged the notion that objectifying women is somehow acceptable (even in private, exclusively male conversations) and instead created a new cultural norm committed to honoring the Imago Dei in both women and in men?

Additionally, preserving the notion that “locker-room banter” is acceptable is not only irresponsible and dangerous for women; it’s insulting to our brothers. Do we really believe that men are somehow less free to embody expressions of gentleness, deference, and self-control? What sort of distorted and diluted version of masculinity offers up cheap escape hatches like “boys will be boys” when a woman’s Divinely-imprinted heart, mind, body, and soul are at the risk of violation? What twisted identity constructs are we normalizing and perpetuating by writing off certain behaviors as simply “expected functions” of the male persona?

Men, I know you’re better than this, and I personally refuse to hold you to a standard any lower than the one I know you are capable of rising to. Let this essay also stand as my personal refusal to hold myself back from what I am capable of as a woman: speaking loudly and unashamedly against something I recognize as wrong.

To my sisters who are suffering this week as a result of viewing the video: you are justified in your pain and in your anger. This video is not just a political annoyance; it is a trigger for trauma. And if you’re reeling from that, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. You have a right to fully feel your pain and to lament it.

A few months ago Cedric, my dear friend and co-worker here at Watershed, wrote a brilliant post entitled “It Isn’t Too Late to Ask.” I can’t think of a better response in a moment like this than the advice in that post.

Men, it isn’t too late to ask the women in your lives how they’re really feeling this week. It isn’t too late to sit quietly and offer wide-open, compassionate, non-judgmental, curious space for our voices to be heard.

Ladies, we can also give this tender gift to one another… and to our brothers. The negative effects of “locker-room banter” extend to men’s souls as well. Asking to hear each other’s stories might just be the most redemptive thing any of us could do.

All week long this verse from Genesis 50 has been reverberating in my heart: “Don’t you see, you planned evil against me but God used those same plans for my good, as you see all around you right now—life for many people.”

Nothing can fully erase the pain of past trauma, and I personally do not believe that God ordains abuse in anyone’s life. But if we view this video as a springboard for vulnerable conversation, if we are able to see it as an invitation from the Spirit to increase our compassion and love for one another, then I do believe it can be transformed into something good.

To explore this topic further, we recommend listening to Woman, a recent podcast by The Liturgists.

Pursuing God: Thoughts on Music & Spirituality

Pursuing God: Thoughts on Music & Spirituality

By Austin Smith, Watershed Worship and Creativity Pastor

Hi! My name is Austin Smith and I’m the Worship and Creativity Pastor at Watershed. One of my roles is to oversee our Sunday morning experiences and the different elements that go into them. I’ve been leading worship and doing music in churches since I was in high school (so, like, two years ago) and I’ve been asked a plethora of questions regarding what I do. I thought exploring some of the questions I get most often would be a great way to converse about this topic.

Why music in a church?

We don’t really have much of a choice.

This entire conversation is about God. This big Other that man has been grappling to understand since the dawn of time. And at every generational, sociological turn, just when we think we’ve finally figured God out, we realize again that we are falling woefully short. So what does it mean for us to continue a pursuit that has frustrated many a spiritual and intellectual giant?

Music enters this picture with, arguably, better hands and tools for processing the conversation.

In the 1997 movie Contact, Jodie Foster plays an astronomer character who has found what she believes to be extra-terrestrial life. This finding leads her on an explorative space journey to the edge of some celestial other-world. She describes it as a celestial event and then, at a loss for words, exclaims, “They should’ve sent a poet!"

In many ways, this is the same reason we still sing in church. It’s not so that we can better explain God or our interactions with him, but so that we can marvel in the mystery that shrouds this entire conversation. Music gives us a way to experience God when words fall short. We use combinations of emotive melodies and instrumentation to evoke deeper parts of our response systems. We employ the use of mystical metaphors to give space where space is due while still attempting to wrap ourselves around God. This dance often leads us not into a place of knowing, but of unknowing.

What do you think about the music in our church?

Much of what I just described holds true for us at Watershed. We use music as a tool to more fully understand our experience with God. We realize that there are many avenues to experience God, so we do not presume that music somehow holds the key to unlocking any great mystery about what an encounter with God looks like. We do, however, think that there is something extremely powerful about a group of people coming together and singing together and listening to music together. For better or worse, there are things we do as a group that we simply cannot do as individuals, and one of those things is experiencing music in a corporate way. At Watershed we value this idea that everything is more complete when we experience it both as an individual and as a group.

Where do you think we’re headed?

We could probably have a big conversation about genre, style and particulars when it comes to the music at Watershed, but for the sake of time sincerity, those are secondary in my mind. When I think about where we are headed, I think about two avenues: honesty and quality.

So much of what we all experience in our everyday lives isn’t honest, often to the point that we’ve become largely skeptical of almost everything. I hope that as a church we can embody some sense of honesty with the music that we sing. We won’t get it right every time, but it has been my experience that when honest music is engaged, it changes the musician and the listener.

If the music isn’t good it doesn’t matter what it says or what it’s supposed to do, it won’t accomplish anything. That being said, good music is an unbelievably subjective statement. Everyone has a different opinion about what type of music is good and what type of music is bad. In this sense we try, as best we can, to move towards what moves people. We try to make informed decisions about what it is that stirs people’s souls and moves them into deeper parts of themselves and into deeper relationship with God.

What can I do to engage music in a meaningful, spiritual way?

The first thing that science will tell you about music is that for it to have any sort of positive effect, you must like it. I know it sounds simple, but go find the music that you really like. Not something that you think you’re supposed to like because your friend group, society, or family tells you to. If it’s Justin Bieber and Beyonce, then so be it. You have to find something or someone you really enjoy.

Secondly, if you want music to be something that changes you, you have to make time for it. You can’t just listen to it on occasion while you’re doing other things and expect some sort of transformational experience. Take a few minutes each day and just sit and listen. Close your eyes and take in the intricacies of the music and lyrics. Allow yourself to notice the experience as well as what the experience is doing to you and for you.

Lastly, I would encourage you to move towards music as a group practice, whether that be at church, or at a venue in town. Like I said before, there is something about a shared experience that is quite unlike anything we can experience as individuals. That shared experience has personally been one of the driving forces in my own life and in the lives of many others.

It is a joy to spend time with many of you on a Sunday morning for an hour or so and share this communal musical experience, and I hope that you will continue to join in as we allow music to pull us further up and further in.

Check out what we've been singing together recently at Watershed and take a peek at what's coming up next on our Playlist page!

A Place Where the Ground Can Hold Us

A Place Where the Ground Can Hold Us

By Becky Santoro, Watershed Children's Pastor

On Sunday I shared my stories of a childhood place I call my Green Pastures (named after Psalm 23). My Green Pastures was a place where I was so intricately connected to my soul and to God’s presence. I talked freely to Him and danced with Him in the wind. It was my magical place. My secret place. My safe place. Until one day…

I lost my child-like eyes.

If you weren’t in the audience, it may be helpful to stop reading and listen HERE for some context before your continue on. 

My hope is that, as a community, our lives can be an attempt to regain child-like eyes in a messy, broken world. To turn cul-de-sacs into places of worship and to physically be the Green Pastures in the injustice you see around you.

Some days are harder to see Green Pastures than others, but it’s the best place I have known where to be planted. Come with me. Spend your days catching glimpses of the softness of His spirit within your everyday moments and be reminded that God can meet you anywhere.

Even in the getting older. 

Even in the pain. 

Even in the anger. 

Even in the injustice.

Even in the mundane. 

Even in the transition. 

Even in the brokenness. 

Even in the deep grief.

These things can swallow you up and disillusion you, can’t they? They can make you turn everything into a cul-de-sac or they can ground you and root you into real living… where you notice the Green Pastures in the simple things around you and you find chances to be a part of creating the Green Pastures for others. It can make you rise up from the ashes and be a part of heaven on earth. The here and not yet.

What I’ve come to realize is when I stand on my broken Green Pastures filled with grief or when I embody Green Pastures for others, it allows me to carry someone’s grief-stricken heart inside my own.

When I don’t rush past the pain, I am able to be a guide because I’ve honored and walked on that Green Pastures before.

 I chose to sit down.

 That allows my heart to break all over again.

And I’ll do this again and again as many times as I can…as long as I have this breath.

This is real living.

Find your real and metaphorical Green Pastures. Embody it for others. And sit down in your broken ones. Grief is holy ground. Your Shepherd is safe.

Your stories will become the most sacred place and holy ground for others along the way if you bring them to the light. It is the fertile soil of a Green Pastures.

And above all, I hope you know deep in your soul…

You are not forgotten. 


 PS - What I didn’t know is that the exact DAY I sat down and wrote the first draft of my talk… my mom had written about my Green Pastures 25 years earlier in her journal. May 17th. She sent me pictures of the diary recently and I almost fell out of my chair. Reading her words now as a mom myself and after just putting pen to paper to these memories is beautiful and priceless to me.

May 17th, 1991

Dear Becky,

Last night you took me to the “Green Pastures”…this silly cul-de-sac in our neighborhood. At this time of your life, you are showing me that you share my intensity for life and for the Lord. A part of me wishes you won’t have to experience the intense pain that you will ultimately have to feel. But, I know that you’ll feel the joy in your life just as intensely and I believe that its God’s way of making it up to us. I pray you will always have such a fierce devotion for God… You talk to God about everything. Thank you for that.

So, I’m not surprised that you find “Green Pastures.” You need them as much as I do. A place of rest and peace- a time of reflection on God and His beauty, a “hiding place.” It’s so comforting there, you’ll bring others. Some of these others will love it as you do- most will fail to see its merit. It’ll break your heart that they’re missing out- that they can’t see the value. But, oh little one, allow no one to steal your vision! Hold onto your Green Pastures! Experience it to its fullest. Eat and lay down satisfied as the Psalms say. I’ll go with you. I understand. Thank God, there’s you. I love you, Mom.

 

 

Nate George's Sermons

Nate George's Sermons

On November 18, 2015, our Watershed community suffered a great loss. Our dear friend and former Children's Pastor, Nate George, passed away after complications stemming from a heart condition he'd had since birth. Nate and his wife, Lauren, have been an instrumental part of this community for many years and there is no way to measure the impact they've had here. Everyone who knew Nate was better for it and Lauren is a precious soul who radiates God's joy and grace.

We are so thankful to have been Nate's church home during his years in Charlotte. As a member of our staff, Nate not only directed GreenHouse, but he also spoke several times from stage. Nate was a gifted speaker and we are incredibly grateful that we were able to capture his messages.

Below you'll find a listing of all of the sermons Nate preached while he was at Watershed. To the many who loved and adored him, we pray that these recordings will bring you peace, joy, and sweet gratitude for someone we were so lucky to call our own.

We love you, Nate, and we miss you terribly. But we trust that you are at peace and we know your legacy here on Earth reaches further than we could ever begin to imagine.

To save Nate's messages, click the download button in the bottom right-hand corner of each podcast. 

Spring Baptism 2016

Spring Baptism 2016

Sometimes religion can feel abstract or intangible, but when we hear someone's story it puts flesh on the theoretical and animates concepts that may have previously seemed inaccessible or dry. Baptism is a declaration of resurrection in real-time. The symbolic dunking in the presence of community has less to do with theories and dogma and much more to do with tasting real Transformation and feeling drawn to relinquish old patterns of living as a result. Baptism proclaims that resurrection is not only something that happened... but that it's something that HAPPENS.

On May 22nd Watershed baptized six of our community members. May their stories of hope and renewal remind you that you, too, are endlessly pursued by Love!

Interested in participating in our next Baptism? Check out our Baptism FAQ's or fill out a Baptism Interest Form


Kristen 

I found Watershed about a year or so after my divorce. Through the experience of having my marriage end, I was starting to develop a much clearer picture of my true self. However, I also arrived wounded and somewhat lost due to a lack of support from some people who I thought would be there for me through the pain. Going to church, and especially joining and sharing in a community, wasn’t fully comfortable. I felt ashamed to say I was divorced. I felt like I didn't fit in with early 30-somethings who were all settled, married, and having children. 

Watershed was the first place I felt something new start to grow. I felt I could be who I was and let people know my circumstances without judgement. It felt so good to be able to do so. Over time, the embarrassment, guilt and self-consciousness that once occupied parts of my life started to dissipate. And, ultimately, it became the space where Christ started to grow inside of me. In our most recent series, I’ve started dealing with the idea of truly forgiving myself.

More and more, awareness of God's presence started to grow in my life. I started being drawn to this community: I decided to go through Preface...  I joined a bloc... I started engaging the Bible... I invited others to Watershed.. I became a tutor at Byers... I volunteer as a greeter... I’m friends with the leader of the band (I’ve never really had “church” friends!). When I traveled for work, I stayed connected through podcasts and the Watershed app. I've gone to church for most of my life (except for college/early 20's), but often I wasn’t fully present and certainly was never a full-fledged part of a church community.  

Coming into a greater intimacy with God has been both freeing and challenging. There’s a happiness and peace that I have started to experience. I’ve been given permission to be myself. But it’s also challenging me to look at others and myself differently to remain open-minded and compassionate toward others in the same way.

When I was a child I was baptized, but I love the fact that as an adult I have a choice, kind of like renewing your vows in a marriage: even though you did it once I'm re-confirming this is my choice. It’s my choice to seek God, community and a life with Christ that I want to continue being intentional with. I am also moved to be able to have my grandfather be a part of this with me, as he and my grandmother are the clear spiritual leaders of our family and have probably had the most impact throughout my life in keeping me close to God.


Bonnie 

I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church. I went to church religiously every Sunday as a child and teenager. My father is a Baptist Deacon and my mother was raised Catholic, so God and Christ were important to our family. When I was seven I prayed to accept Jesus so that God would forgive me of my sins and I could go to heaven.  As a child, often you haven’t developed enough to ask questions about things. But as I grew into adulthood, things changed. To the extent that for the past 13 years, the idea of God, church and religion wasn’t as simple as I remembered it. In fact, it became rather confusing and less than compelling.

And so I drifted into a life that was more about me than it was about God. I lost track of what it meant be “Christian” anymore.  My views about life also changed. In some sense… I felt lost.

I think I arrived at Watershed longing to be closer to God. However, I didn’t feel that my life was “good enough." Preface helped me realize God’s expectation of me wasn’t perfection. I started recognizing that getting closer to God was more about understanding that He was already here… with me and in me... in the first place.  I realized that part of what Jesus was inviting us to do was to see God in everything. If you focus on seeing, the being will come.

My life just before arriving to Watershed, I think, was marked by quite a bit of stress and anger. I felt out of sync, as though there should be more to what I was experiencing in life. I embraced the belief that more success, money and experiences would somehow satisfy me in the deeper places of my life. What I’ve realized is that because God loves me and is close to me, my life is already meaningful. And that I am OK being by myself, sitting in the quiet, sensing that I’m a part of something larger than myself.  

I’m getting baptized because I’m awake to everything I just described after being asleep for the better part of the last 13 years. My hope is to continue to grow and to learn and follow in the steps of Christ. The more Christ teaches me about God, the more I realize how impossible it is to ever understand his immensity. But I want a deeper, more awake, more vulnerable and stronger relationship with God. And I want my life to matter such that the change and peace I’ve discovered and experienced, others can begin to experience too.  


Greg 

My first experience with Watershed was in 2005 through a Watershed-sponsored event called Movies in the Park.  I remember meeting Matt at a local coffee shop to talk about Watershed’s view of life, God and Christianity. Watershed was in its first year and meeting in Actor’s Theatre in Uptown back then. I decided to get involved. I attended on Sundays, joined a bloc, served and led in various capacities. I even led Watershed’s ROVE Bloc for a while.    

From the beginning Watershed spent time and energy attempting to help hurting people. I was drawn to get involved with some of the pursuits to make things better for people, whether in West Virginia through Habitat for Humanity or building homes in Mexico. I like doing things with my hands and I love being outdoors. These are some of the ways I feel most connected to God, so those were very meaningful experiences for me.

Life took me in a different direction several years ago, but Watershed has always been a place marker for a true season of growth. I learned things about myself and my relationship with God that were building blocks for my life with Christ today.   

These days I’m part of a church within the community where I live in South Carolina. It’s a church I really love and it’s a community that’s really starting feel like home. However, recently I became aware that when I was baptized as a child it was a decision that was more driven by my parents than by my own convictions or relationship with God. I’ve been reflecting on this for a while and decided that, as an adult, I wanted to embrace this for myself. I wanted to mark this moment in my life because of how truly loved and accepted by God I am.

Because so much of my journey was informed and instigated during my season at Watershed and because God used this community and the people here to impact my life, when I made this decision I felt drawn to return here for baptism.  

I want to be baptized because, after looking back over my life, I’ve noticed that God has consistently been present with me, patiently growing me and walking with me even during those less than desirable times of life. I want to be baptized because I want to continue identifying with Jesus, building community and being a part of helping others connect to the God who has been so vital to me personally. And what makes this really special for me is being baptized surrounded by so many people in a place that has always felt like home. 


Carole 

Since childhood my spiritual life has definitely ebbed and flowed. It really flowed as a kid. I grew up in a church that was right up the hill from my parents house. I was very involved in our youth group at every level. It was a really enjoyable experience and I feel fortunate to have grown up with a church and church community so close to my home.

I think a lot of the ebbing had to do with being an unaware college kid, allowing myself to be influenced by people and situations that were not the safest or healthiest. I hate to say it but it was kind of like a "sex, drugs, and rock & roll" phase of my life... when I really lost touch with God. It's like my love for Him was always there but I was clouded by bad decisions and toxic relationships. In college, I remember sometimes searching for a church or attending some random Bible study but nothing ever stuck.  It wasn't until I moved to Charlotte that my life really changed.

I had just moved here and didn't know a soul so I started going out and drinking as a way of fitting in. And so, unfortunately (and in an odd way, fortunately), I was out one night drinking and I chose to drive home intoxicated. However, I didn’t make it home. Instead, I was pulled over and arrested for Driving Under the Influence.  

I don’t know how others handle something like this, but for me it was a horrible, embarrassing, humiliating experience. It left me emotionally drained and emptied. Thank goodness I didn’t injure anyone or myself. But that night in 2013, everything changed for me.

There was a sense that I always knew ABOUT God before that event, and that I even felt he was often near. But that experience (as painful and demoralizing as it was) also woke me up to the desire to know God in deeper more meaningful ways. I longed to know God loved me even when I was unable to love and forgive myself for what I had done.

Then, in 2015, Tracy (a friend and co-worker) invited me to come to Watershed. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but over time I got involved in a bloc, started contributing to GreenHouse, and started really searching into deeper parts of myself. At Watershed I entered into a pursuit of following Christ in the process. I started feeling God's love me more and more. I started noticing that parts of my story and life became easier to describe and more redemptive to tell. The pursuit of Christ has had and continues to have a huge impact on my life. I think I've always had a love for God and have always known I need Him. But I think the more I forgive myself for my actions and let God in the closer I feel to Him.

I’ve only really been focusing my life this way for a little over a year, but today I feel more alive, content and in tune with who I am and who I want to become. I still have insecurities of course, but the more I’ve moved through this, the more the insecurities go away. I used to spend a lot of my time in other people’s shadows, feeling like I had to measure up in order to be liked. In my pursuit of Christ, it feels like I've come out of the shadows. And I believe I did because God used the worst moment of my life to open this sort of door. It feels like He pushed me out of the shadow. “I feel like He was like, "no kid, enough of this, you need to shine! You need to become who you were designed to BE. Not this other person you’ve been all these years."  

So I want to be baptized today, because this is the moment in my life when I’ve hit the reset button. I want the metaphorical death of old Carole to know a new, more alive, more real, more transformed Carole! The one Jesus keeps reminding me is real.  And I want this to be the way I live from this day forward. 


amanda & ryan

AMANDA

Church has always been a part of my life. I was raised Catholic and attended mass most Sundays with my family. Those early experiences with religion and spirituality were satisfying and gave me a strong value foundation that I still use to navigate life.

However, upon entering college, I found myself searching for a more personal expression of my faith. I wanted a deeper intimacy with God and unfortunately just attending mass didn’t provide that relationship I was searching for. During my senior year of undergrad, a friend reached out and helped me start exploring my personal relationship with God. My friend attended non-denominational church. It was a bit of a struggle with the change from the Catholic Church, but I started spending time sifting through the Bible and talking to God on a daily basis, attempting to learn more about my faith on a personal level. I only attended my friend’s church a handful of times before I left Florida for grad school in North Carolina.   

Upon arriving to North Carolina,  I chose to return to my Catholic expression as often as I could. But ultimately, I struggled finding traction with God.

Then, last Christmas, my fiancé Ryan (who was unaccustomed to religion) started expressing an interest in finding a church. This was fueling for me personally because I saw it as a way for us bring faith into our lives. Ryan and I started to search together and the craving grew for my life with God to develop into more than just ritual. I wanted it to be a part of the fabric of my day-to-day life and I yearned for a life where Ryan and I could share faith. I wanted God be present to both of us.

Ryan and I found Watershed in January with a mere google search. They had just begun the Stogies and Stilettos series which seemed perfect for a newly engaged couple like ourselves. Watershed has been instrumental for me and for Ryan. It many ways, it’s become like a home where we’ve felt the freedom to explore and embrace God in a deeply personal way. We jumped right into Preface with only a few weeks under our belt and we started exploring our faith together within our group and at home. Embracing God has changed me. Christ has helped me look at myself and the world through a different set of eyes. It’s created a sacred space for Ryan and I in our relationship that is ours individually... but one that we also share with each other.  

Our pursuit of God has helped us experience a faith more spiritually and emotionally entwined. It’s expanded our love and commitment to each other. It’s given our relationship more meaning and significance.  

Baptism for me is has been about the start of something new that I want, always, moving forward in my life. I want my life and our marriage to be a picture of God’s compassion, mercy, justice and peace. For my life and my family to be a picture of the good news that Jesus embodied. I want to be able to give our children this way of knowing God, this type of community, this type of relationship and this type of faith. I hope to continue to grow and become more of who God longs for me to be. I want make a difference both in our Watershed community, the community of Charlotte, and the world. I want my faith to be an outward expression of God’s love and invitation to others.    

I'm getting baptized because of how personal my life with God has become. It’s a relationship that has become real, alive and true. I am so happy to experience this with my fiancé Ryan by my side!

 

RYAN

I grew up in Sarasota, Florida, in a family and with parents who were the most generous, loving parents I could ever ask for. I’ve never known what it’s like to NOT be loved by my mom and dad. I have a very high opinion of them both. Interestingly though, our family was relatively non-religious. Conversations about God, church or religion just never really came up. So my experience with religion and spirituality has been, to put it simply, absent.

All this started shifting for me over the past couple of years. I can’t pinpoint an exact moment where God came into my life but the biggest influencer in all this has been fiancé, Amanda. Amanda grew up with her own understanding of God and would often ask me to attend church with her. I was always open minded about going, but just never truly felt comfortable at the churches we tried.  After spending Christmas with her family and attending church on Christmas Eve I expressed to her that I wanted to attend more frequently so I could gain some traction and understand more about what I was doing there.

Amanda had the idea of searching for the type of church where it would be safe for both of us to explore this in our own way and also together. We found Watershed through a Google search. It was close to home and so we decided to attend. That first Sunday was the first time I walked into a church without feeling anxious or apprehensive. It felt right. It felt good. In the way that Watershed has helped me make sense of myself and God, there seemed to be less obstacles in experiencing a presence and connection with God, something I’ve noticed growing stronger.

Recently, Matt asked me the question:  “Has the idea, conversation about, or pursuit of Christ had some sort of impact or influence in you starting to feel closer or more in sync with God?”

It took me a few days to organize my thoughts about this. But, since really diving into my own spirituality I've definitely felt a connection with Christ and have been thinking about life in many ways that are different than before.

I’ve noticed caring more deeply for the people I love in my life. I’ve noticed this also in terms of the people I’ve met here in the Watershed community or people I work with or the people I desire to help in more outreaching ways through the schools Watershed works with. And I am certain it all comes from this new relationship I've just started with Christ. This is still all very new to me and I'm extremely excited about it all. I'm still learning to embrace everything in my own way but I feel like I’m growing everyday.  

I’m drawn to the idea of baptism. Baptism for me has become this milestone where my resolve and bond with Christ and God are strengthened more and more. In my heart and mind my baptism is a powerful and emotional moment of celebration in my life because of the traction I’m experiencing in the beginning stages of my relationship with Christ and God. I do not want to put my life before Christ to rest, I want to explore and add more layers of love and spirituality to it with Christ and God.  And I look forward to doing it here in this community.  

 

Thanks to Liz Croby & Bill Thomas for taking the photos shown above!

India: A Generosity Opportunity

India: A Generosity Opportunity

In last Sunday's Gathering Matt took some time to share about Watershed's ten-year partnership with Pastor Thanglal Haokip from Guwahati, India. Thanglal was a boy from the orphanage where the O’Neil’s and the Hoferts lived in the late 90’s. He attended the seminary in Kota, Rajasthan, where Matt and Scott were adjunct staff and he served as their translator.

Thanglal and his wife, Angum, planted a church in 2006 in Guwahati called Saraighat Community Church. Saraighat (pronounced Sa-rye-got) is a community striving to embody God’s peace, love and mercy. This isn't easy given the oppositional religious climate in their region of India. People who identify as Muslim, Hindu, and even some Christians are often in turmoil with each other due to poverty and governmental power struggles between corrupt religious and political leaders. Saraighat continues to try exist in ways that build bridges into their community and broker compassion and hope in the wake of so much poverty and struggle. The name Saraighat is actually the name of a bridge in Guwati which connects several different parts of India together. So, in some sense, their name embodies their mission. Watershed has enjoyed providing a decade of support for the Hoakip's justice-oriented work in India and Matt and Scott continue to mentor Thanglal via Skype to this day. 

Recently Thanglal reached out to Matt and Scott with a special need: a reliable vehicle. The Haokips have relied on public transportation their entire existence in Guwahati. However, due to how difficult and sometimes dangerous it is to travel via the public transit system and due to how geographically dispersed the villages they work with are, having a vehicle to rely on would be revolutionary to their efforts. A vehicle would enable the Haokips to move about more organically, more freely, and in a way that is more secure and safe. 

It's not often that we have such tangible opportunities to show love to our global partners outside of our regular support! 

the total cost to purchase a reliable vehicle for the haokip family is $3,500

Already our community has generously given about $800 toward the vehicle! We would love to fully cover this cost by the end of the month, and we invite you to be a part of that effort. 

If you'd like to practice generosity by helping the Haokips obtain a vehicle, there are several ways you can do it:

  • By cash or check. Drop an envelope in our metal offering boxes on Sunday or mail to P.O. Box 12749 | Charlotte, NC 28220. Please be sure to note that the gift is specifically for India.
  • Online through our SecureGive System (click here). 

Thank you for supporting our dear friends as they seek to do meaningful work in a difficult part of the world!


The Haokip's prayer requests

  • On May 18th a fanatical Hindu party won the election in the Haokip's state. This group is against several minority groups, including Christians. The Hoakips and their community are always vulnerable to violence or discrimination. Please Pray for God's protection and God’s peace to materialize within a climate of anger and fear.
  • Please pray for the two house churches which are extensions of Saraighat’s community in remote parts of India. Because they are more isolated, they are more vulnerable to injustice and suffering. Please pray for their protection.
  • Thanglal will be preaching and teaching 15 times from the last week of June until July 20th in a variety of locations to both youth and young pastors.  Please pray for stamina, inspiration and awareness as he teaches.

Self-Sabotage and Faith

Self-Sabotage and Faith

By Cedric Lundy

Self-sabotage is the way an individual, through their individual beliefs, self-esteem, self-confidence, and permission from their past, keeps themselves within their self-chosen—and surprisingly comfortable—boundaries.

This past Sunday, as a part of our Interwoven series, I shared my own experience of realizing that I have a pattern of sabotaging myself in certain aspects of my life. I gave some examples from my youth of sabotaging even the possibility of dating, and from trying out for the basketball team. More currently I shared how identifying myself as a youth pastor had prevented me from even considering, much less pursuing, how else I could be used in ministry.

For those of you who were in attendance or have listened to the podcast hopefully it resonated with you and you are able to carve out some time this week to contemplate how and in what areas of your life you are your own worst enemy to achieving your goals and dreams. That being said there is one area I’d like to delve into deeper than I did on stage. Specifically two of the four questions I posed in relation to being a self-saboteur. Have your ‘yea buts’ become the primary obstacle to the life of transformation and renewal God is attempting to orchestrate in your life? How many of us are horrified that being made into a new creation in Christ, means a new set of expectations and new and higher levels of required performance?

I grew up in a Free Methodist church. The joke about Methodists is that they’re "all about the methods." More specifically, Free Methodists are all about living a disciplined lifestyle characterized by strict observance of moral codes and practice of Christian disciplines, most particularly Bible reading and prayer. That is one of my major starting points in understanding how to have a vibrant relationship with Jesus. Not to say that those two practices are somehow invalid, but those two practices have, over the years, become the “yea but” preventing me at times from fully engaging Christ for the purpose of continued life transformation and renewal. Those practices have, at times, caused me to assess my own personal spiritual health based solely on the frequency at which I practice them instead of assessing myself based upon the evidence of the fruit Paul mentions in Galatians 5.22-24 (love joy peace patience kindness goodness faithfulness gentleness and self-control).

All that to say, at times, I struggle to feel like I’ve met my perceived expectations of required performance, especially since becoming a full-time vocational pastor. If I perceive I’m not meeting those standards I become paranoid God is going to distance himself from me, and before I know it I start to move away from him internally before he can.

For some of you, your ‘yea but’ is your doubts. I imagine there is an event or circumstance that has become your current starting point for life with and in Christ, but that event has evoked all sorts of doubts regarding the goodness and trustworthiness of God, or worthiness of yourself. I know fellow journeyers who have been railroaded by divorce (their parents’ and their own), being the victim of abuse, failure of health, losing their virginity, becoming addicted to porn, betrayal—the list goes on and on—into doubting God’s existence or that he could ever truly love them.

Could it be that you’ve become comfortable keeping God at a safe distance ever since?

For some of you, particularly those who are relatively new to church, your ‘yea but’ has been the valid questions raised by the history of grievances of those who claim the God and Christ of the Christian scriptures. How the first century Jewish teacher of love and grace became the mascot of the crusades, annihilation of Native Americans, and the tormentor of sexual minorities is perplexing to the point of there being a myriad of internet memes that can illustrate these incongruences better than I ever could.

Or maybe your questions reside within the realm of trying to reconcile faith and reason. Regardless, your questions have become your ‘yea but’ preventing you from going any deeper into your journey with God. Could it be that you find an odd comfort in knowing that your questions likely don’t have satisfying answers that would serve as a catalyst for you to move further towards God?

Whether our upbringing, our doubts, or our questions I suspect that our ‘yea buts’ in this regard have a common thread. At some level we all need to feel like we have arrived. Arrived at a point of excellence. Arrived at a point of resolve. Arrived at a point of resolution. The prickly underbelly to feeling like we need to have arrived is that we know, or at least should know by now, that life is too unpredictable and filled with too many unknowns for that to be the thing we base our relationship with God and Christ upon in any facet.

We never know when something is going to come and disrupt our comfort in feeling like everything is in its right place. When that reality becomes the reason for keeping God at arm’s length, then it can become the thing that actually sabotages our engagement with him without us realizing we’re doing it.        

Mother's Day: Preparing the Table

Mother's Day: Preparing the Table

By Becky Santoro, Watershed Children's Director

I grew up surrounded by a group of women. My mom has strong friendships with many but I remember a handful of women that were her TRIBE. These ladies got together to laugh, pray for each others' kids, and supported each other in the ups and downs of life. Literally, these women were in my mom’s everyday life and they watched me grow up… awkward phases and all.

When I turned 18 these women all got together in one room to sip on tea, sit around a table, and read out loud a letter they wrote me. It was a letter of encouragement: things they saw in me growing up, ways they prayed for me, what they hope I would experience and learn as I moved forward into adulthood.

I’m a mom of a 4 year old and a 2 year old and I’m picturing who might be at the table when it’s their turn to sip on tea and hear women read them a letter.

I’m preparing the table now.

A tribe isn’t born overnight. It’s 1,000 small memories and conversations. It’s staying in touch when some of them move. It’s laughing at the mom moments and it’s the crying alongside them when hard parts of life happen; when infertility, miscarriages, and unexpected trials enter.

It’s being vulnerable enough to share the deepest fears and failures as a parent or wife and then realizing you’re not alone. It’s the judgement free zone when you need to vent but also those who will tell you the tough truth when you need that too.

It’s showing up in the lives of their children too and loving them like your own; going to the ball games, birthday parties, dance recitals. It’s lending an ear when their kids won’t listen to them but will listen to you. It’s problem solving together through the growing pains.

So pull up a chair around the women you care about. Make sure your calendar, in all its busyness, carves out time for you to be with them and their families. Let your kids bear witness to it too.

It’s too important to not spend time investing in preparing the table by building your tribe.  And the good news is there’s always room for more chairs.

Find your tribe and love them hard.

Happy Mother’s Day,

Becky

Because He is Risen

Because He is Risen

Thanks to all who joined us yesterday at Watershed to celebrate Easter Sunday! You can listen to the complete message here if you missed it. 

Because He is risen
Spring is possible
In all the cold hard places
Gripped by winter
And freedom jumps the queue
To take fear’s place
as our focus
Because he is risen

Because He is risen
My future is an epic novel
Where once it was a mere short story
My contract on life is renewed
in perpetuity
My options are open-ended
My travel plans are cosmic
Because he is risen

Because He is risen
Healing is on order and assured
And every disability will bow
Before the endless dance of his ability
And my grave too will open
When my life is restored
For this frail and fragile body
Will not be the final word
on my condition
Because He is risen

-Gerard Kelly

 

God's Power in the World

God's Power in the World

Dating, relationships and love (or lack thereof) can feel messy and difficult for many people. Yesterday Co-Pastor Matt O'Neil spoke about asking better questions as we wrestle with the "wheat and the weeds" in our lives. (Listen to the full message: Stogies & Silettos 2016 | There Are Always More Questions)

Good questions don't usually have simple answers - they often require a journey, a commitment and a surrender to something bigger than ourselves. Even though Jesus says there will someday be a harvest when the wheat will be kept and the weeds burned away completely, asking better questions often doesn't make circumstances any easier in the present. The good news is that we have a God who took on our human condition to become nothing and embraced our powerlessness to enter our pain. God's full resolve is to join us in our darkness. 

Matt closed this talk with the following mediation from Fr. Ron Rolheiser about the true nature of God's power in the world. May it bring you deep peace and comfort as you commit to stand amidst both the wheat and the weeds of your life and ask questions which push you forward into greater wholeness and intimacy with our Creator.

 

God's power is never the power of a muscle, a speed, a physical attractiveness, a brilliance or a grace which (as the contemporary expression has it) blows you away and makes you say: "Yes, there is a God!" The world's power tries to work that way.

God's power though is more muted, more helpless, more shamed and more marginalized. But it lies at a deeper level, at the ultimate base of things, and will, in the end, gently have the final say.

So what does God's power look like?

If you have ever dreamed a dream and found that every effort you made was hopeless and that your dream could never be realized, if you have cried tears and felt shame at your own inadequacy, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever been shamed in your enthusiasm or approach and not given a chance to explain yourself, if you have ever been cursed for your goodness or effort by people who misunderstood you and were powerless to make them see things in your way, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever tried to make yourself attractive to someone and were incapable of it, if you have ever loved someone and wanted desperately to somehow make him or her notice you and found yourself hopelessly unable to do so, then you have felt how God is in this world.

If you have ever felt yourself aging and losing both the health and tautness of a young body and the opportunities that come with that and been powerless to turn back the clock, if you have ever felt the world slipping away from you as you grow older and ever more marginalized, then you have felt how God is in this world.

And if you have ever felt like a minority of one before the group hysteria of a crowd gone mad, if you have ever felt, first-hand, the sick evil of being violated, abused or taken advantage of, then you have felt how God is in this world... and how Jesus felt on in his last breaths. 

 

Fr. Rolheiser's original mediation was sent in one of his twice-weekly E-newsletters, which you can sign up to receive by email here. This version of the meditation was altered slightly. We also recommend Fr. Rolheiser's book The Holy Longing.

Christmas Eve "Early"

Christmas Eve "Early"

December 20 at 9:00 & 10:45 AM
two opportunities for a special Watershed experience for the whole family
1817 Central Ave • Charlotte NC • 28205
Plaza Midwood

One of our community's most beloved traditions is our annual Christmas Eve service. We decided this year, since so many folks travel over the holidays, that we would move our Christmas Eve experience from the 24th to our Sunday morning gatherings on December 20th so that everyone could take part in the tradition.

At the core of all the celebrating, shopping, decorating, overeating, and various traditions of the Christmas season is a baby, an unwed mother, a carpenter, and a silent night that started it all. On Christmas Eve, Watershed offers a respite from all the holiday chaos where you can take a moment to rest, hit the "pause" button on the pandemonium, and possibly catch a glimpse of the Christmas holiday in its natural state. Join us on December 20th to experience Christmas Eve a little early at Watershed - a contemplative, casual, ambiance-drenched, reflective, family-friendly, 70ish minutes of Christmas-carols-meet-21st-century Christmas Eve service for ALL ages and ALL walks of life. Bring someone you love!

Watershed 10 Year Anniversary Story & Celebration!

Watershed 10 Year Anniversary Story & Celebration!

#Watershed10 was a success! Thank you to everyone who made our ten year celebration possible, from the staff and the volunteers to the past Watersheders who came and visited and the food trucks who joined us for the fun. We couldn't have done it without all of you and we are so grateful for all of the love that was shared through pictures, stories, and music. Send us your photos from the day and we'll post them on our website to commemorate! 

Listen to the podcast of the stories from our celebration here!

Samantha White: Resident Artist Spotlight

Each new year brings an abundance of people through our doors searching for something that has been missing from their lives. Last year, Sam White came to Watershed for our annual Stogies and Stilettos series and this year she was an integral part of getting the series, and the new year, started. The beautiful watercolor graphic that you saw every Sunday during the message, and the mailer you received? Those were Sam's creation. The graphics you'll be seeing throughout our TWELVE series have been designed by Sam as well. 

How did you come up with the graphic/what does it mean for you? 

"Taryn Hofert and I were at lunch together and she started to tell me about the idea for the series TWELVE

As I have been going through some big self reflection recently, I couldn't help but giggle to myself because the content seemed so relevant and in line with the things I was personally learning and working though. 

During Stogies + Stilettos, Matt and Scott (co-pastors at Watershed) both spoke to the idea that there are probably some deeper issues that influence our daily conversations, view points and potential disputes. It would only make sense that these issues could trickle into other aspects of our lives. In the uncovering of these issues, I have to believe there is some connection to habits, ideas, traits, or actions that we are all individually addicted to. With that being said, I think it is important that we first be open to the idea that we are all addicted to something. Secondly, embracing these realizations and working through them can best be described as peeling back the layers. This is how I came to the TWELVE design.

In putting a calming purple behind the peels, I am conveying the idea that while the process might be messy, there is peace and comfort to be found in this exploration. 

The word Twelve has a sort of echo and vibration within it speaking to the internal feeling that some of these realization might have."

How did you find Watershed in the first place?

"I came to Watershed two Jaunarys ago because of the Stogies + Stilettos mailer. I was so honored to design this year's mailer because that piece of mail was so pivotal in my life. I could only hope it did the same for someone else. 

 

The last year at Watershed has been so transformational in who I am as a person and the way in which I approach my faith. Watershed has provided a community that has made Charlotte really feel like home. This is a huge deal for a girl that is "addicted" to transition! :)"

You’re plugged into a bloc now and you’ve done Preface—how does that effect how you experience this community? 

"Immediately after attending my first Sunday Gathering, I knew I wanted to know more about Watershed. I joined the first available Preface, which was where I really became hooked. The 6-week discussion was extraordinarily uncomfortable at moments, thought provoking at others and ultimately left me feeling like this was a community that I wanted to continue to ask questions and embrace God with. 

Upon finishing Preface, Matt connected me with a Her:Grow group of which I am now a co-leader of. Time with these women is my favorite part of the week. We laugh, cry, support each other, ask hard questions, and have created friendships that will last a very long time! 

Watershed is the real deal, people! I feel so blessed to have found it!"

You can view Sam's other beautiful works here. Interested in joining Preface or getting into a bloc somewhere in the Charlotte area? Click here to find one that will be a great fit for you. Don't see one that jumps out at you? Email Jen for more