06 April, 2011

The Faith Entry Pt 4: Winds Continue to Change

My ongoing friendship with Peter continued to grow as well as my contact with Dr Dave. They invited me to be on the planning group for a new church plant. I met Peter during the first time Crosswinds did the church plant for the young adults. They wanted my take on what worked and what didn't work during the first go-round. At that time living with Ms B in San Francisco, I spent many commutes from SF to Dublin much to Ms B's dismay.

Finally the church plant came to fruition, and Venture (the new name of the church service) came to be. This church process was very much collaborative effort from a group of very diverse people. We got to reincorporate the "stations" again, adding a "self-service communion station." It was purposely placed next to the "prayer/meditation corner." What was also created was a "community funds" offering dish. That was a "givers gain, pay it forward" type of offering basket. The premise was to take whatever cash was there, and when the time came and you had something to offer, replace it at a future time. That "community funds" was covering my commute back and forth from SF to Dublin.

Venture was a collaborative well-oiled machine ran by Dr Dave, Dave 2, Peter, and Miss Wall. The worship leader name was also Dave, so we'd joke about how its advantageous it is to work in Venture is by changing the name to "Dave." To avoid confusion, we simply referred to the worship leader as "Mots" which was an abbreviation of his last name. It almost came to a halt on my part one Christmas week.

The first Christmas Venture service came without a hitch. No, this wasn't one of those Christmas pageant type of services. It was more like any other services of Venture had there wasn't a Christmas. It just incorporated the Christmas message from the parent church service. Dave 2 decided to utilize some "Christmas humor" as a part of the festivities. One of which was an excerpt from "A Christmas Story," during the final scene where the family's Christmas dinner was ruined so they had no choice but to dine at a Chinese restaurant. The waiters with the fake Chinese accent butchers the Christmas Carols they're attempting to sing. The members of Venture was cracking up at the scene. I left dejected and alienated.

I sent the pastoral staff of Crosswinds the angriest letter via email as a "Christmas gift."

Dave 2 sent me the most humbled reply. He acknowledged the hurt and anger I expressed and asked for forgiveness. He also offered an "open door" invitation to me to give feedback on Venture to avoid future incidents. Peter and I met for our usual lunch and apologized to me as well. I was very cultured shocked. When a hurtful prank was done to me by my study group at Salvation Army, the pastoral staff not only did not come to my defense, they actually sided with the group because at that time I was not a member in good standing. Here was two pastors asking ME for forgiveness. Not only did I forgave them, I took it a step further. When Venture announced that they would hold their own baptism service, I came forward as one to be baptized. While the majority of those being baptized at Venture wanted Dr Dave, I thought it was appropriate that Peter who took care about 90% of the lunches, listened, talked, being patient with my cynicism was the most appropriate person to perform the baptism. So on January 18, 2004 I was one of the members of the Venture inaugural baptism.

Life was good at Venture in 2004. That was until a pastoral search committee from a church called Riverbend based in Austin Texas came to visit the Wednesday night service. They liked Dr Dave so much, they wanted him to take over for their retiring senior pastor. Dr Dave countered with a condition that he wanted a group of handpicked staff members from Crosswinds to join him. Among them was Dave 2 and Peter along with their respected families. The announcement to Crosswinds and Venture came about in the fall of 2004, around the first anniversary of Venture. At that point I had my own personal concerns to deal with: I had officially split from Ms B and had moved from SF back to my mother's in Oakland. That was appropriate timing considering we learned that my mom had cancer. The transition for them to Austin was to take place in the summer of 2005.

That transition experienced some rough waters when the programming director of Crosswinds was unexpectedly killed while serving as a missionary in Africa. The overall mood in both Crosswinds and Venture was a devastated state of shock and disbelief. One thing I remembered clearly was one of the final gestures during his memorial service: They set up a director's chair in the middle of the stage, and asked that anyone who worked w/him during any of the production or was touched by any of his productions to place a flower on the chair. At the end of that, I was amazed by the amount of flowers covering the chair. I determined for myself that that was the kind of spiritual legacy I wanted to leave at the end of my earthy journey. Yes, I did place a flower on the chair too as I remembered fondly those moments I butchered his monologues on stage during church services.

On Father's Day June 19, 2005 (less than a month after the programing director's service) while on the first day of my first feature film shoot as one of the main characters, my mother breathed her last earthly breath. Later at the end of June, my friend and mentor Peter moved his family to Austin. I also received my acceptance letter to Fuller Theological Seminary.

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