Archives for posts with tag: Nomadic Routine

Lately, I have been feeling reflective about the journey that has been The Dale. It was nearly seven years ago that we gave up our leased space and became a nomadic community. At the time (and maybe still) many thought it a crazy decision on my part. I could feel the skepticism. I don’t think anyone wanted us to fail, I just think some wondered how it could possibly work.

I remember being scared for a variety of reasons, not least of which was the thought of messing things up. I couldn’t bear the thought of having to close down and yet I knew that to be a very real possibility. It seemed wise to set markers in the first year, ones that if not met would signal the plan wasn’t working. Looking back, I am struck by how often we were surprised by grace, again and again experiencing unexpected provision.

I know that God invited me to step in to a role that I would never have considered myself for. I felt inadequate and strangely determined. Fortunately, I was and continue to be surrounded and supported by my family, a Board, and our precious community. I continue to learn from Jesus’ example that to lead I must serve, a posture that is messy, challenging and necessary to choose repeatedly.

At my ordination examining council a community member said, “Erinn is no stranger to suffering, and so she can walk with us”. What a relief that I get to be a part of a community where that is valued. I don’t need to pretend that everything is easy, when everything is not. Together we are discovering what it means to lament well, to practice gratitude, to engage in prayer, to feast together, to admit our failures, to apologize and forgive, and to be transformed by God.

Last week The Dale led a workshop at Assembly, the annual gathering of our denomination. During the debrief time near the end, I sat at the front alongside our team: Joanna, Meagan, Pete, and our two interns, Jan and David. Six of us. Even as I type that I have to stop and take it in. Seven years ago, I was alone. I can’t help but weep tears of wonder.

It is a privilege to be a participant in the work of The Dale. Thank you to everyone, past and present, who has been a part of the journey. I have tucked our many stories in my heart and love knowing that there are countless more to come.

“I’m trying to wrap my head around how it is that you function without a building”. I’ve heard this sentiment from numerous people over the last two months. People seem to understand how a business would make the decision to have its employees work remotely, say from home, but a community organization and church choosing to be without walls? Less so.¬†I do realize how hard it is to ‘get’ if you haven’t been around The Dale.

I often say that we have a well-established “nomadic routine”, one that rarely varies: Monday Drop-In and Lunch at 250 Dunn Avenue, Tuesday staff meeting at a local coffee shop, Tuesday Drop-In at The Salvation Army Thrift Store, Tuesday Bible Study at the St. Clare Centre, Wednesday Breakfast and Art Drop-In at Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre, Sunday Service at 201 Cowan Avenue. Every Thursday morning you will find us walking through the neighbourhood on outreach. Sandwiched into the remaining space is supporting people in a variety of ways, administration, and fundraising.

In 2018 we will have been functioning in this manner for SIX years. I remember sharing the decision to give up our building and seeing the understandable looks of caution from people. I know there were many who presumed this would be a short-lived experiment, not because they wanted us to fail, but because they couldn’t imagine how this would work. I am here to attest to this: what was born out of crisis has become one of our greatest gifts.

The Dale relies on the buildings of others and are so grateful to all of our partners. By ¬†aligning with such a variety of groups in Parkdale, we have access to a broad range of resources and expertise. I am convinced that together we are all made stronger. Further, in being “homeless” we have been reminded that the church is not a building. We have been taught by those who know what it means to be transient, how to be transient ourselves. Together we are living stones, ones that wander and tell of redemption and reconciliation.

Near the end of June 2012 we pushed our industrial fridge and freezer down Queen Street West to 250 Dunn Avenue, just a block away from our former home and the new location of our Monday Drop-In. A few friends dipped their feet in chalk paint and left a trail of prints along the sidewalk so people would know where to find us. If you look closely, you might see a few remnants of those footprints even today. Whenever I notice the faint outline of one, I grin and remember that was just the beginning of what has turned into an amazing adventure.

Screen Shot 2017-12-28 at 3.55.09 PM