Written by Caleb Musselman, Pastor of The Soma Gathering
The strength of a community is proven in times of crisis, but this strength is crafted in the mundane and ordinary moments when a community chooses to hope together. The moments when citizens believe there is something worth fighting for. The forgotten Monday mornings and Thursday afternoons when women and men bring their giftings and passions together for the common good. These are the moments that often go unnoticed and these invisible moments produce a deep and hidden strength.
2020 presented our community with a year we will never forget. Many of us were gripped with fear and uncertainty when COVID-19 began sweeping through our world, our nation, and our region. Schools shut down, businesses closed, churches closed and we sat in our homes wondering what would become of us.
The spring months of 2020 were grueling; and yet, our communal grit and strength began to rise and spring forth. Long-formed community partnerships showed tremendous creative ability in identifying and problem-solving the needs of our people. Community non-profits filled vehicles with meals and delivered to those most in need. Long-standing food pantries and soup kitchens tripled their output to serve the increased demographic in need of daily food. Our school district worked intricately with partners, parents, and students to ensure best case scenario distance learning situations. All working on the same streets. All knowing they had a part to play.
Because our church is just closing our first decade of existence, we see ourselves as a vital yet new kid on the block. We often look to long-standing community churches or partners to lead the way as we find our place in our beloved city. As the pandemic dug its claws into us, we knew we had two critical gifts to offer - our people and our building.
We were able to partner with Neighborhood North to host both a summer learning program and an elementary after-school program through the fall season in our building on 14th street and 6th Ave. These programs worked very well in our space and seemed to offer critical teaching and tutoring for our children. Further, it provided a social space where older teens and young adults could pour into our youth in vibrant and life-altering ways. I will remember these days fondly and I believe these moments will give us hope in times of struggle that are sure to come.
Neighborhood North's deep desire to work in partnership and willingness to flex and adapt programming to match changing needs have made this organization a critical asset to our city. Our church is grateful for good relationships with leadership and staff and trust that we will see many more powerful moments of partnership in the months to come. We cannot see our city moving toward wholeness and equity without Neighborhood North. Even more, we would not want to walk the journey without them.
The strongest community is based around a general belief that all of us are needed for wholeness to be achieved. In other words, each of us has a part to play in the journey toward wholeness and life. As the pastor of The Soma Gathering, I am honored for the part our church community has been able to play since the pandemic has started. I see a city that is just beginning to flex its muscles. I see a city of beauty and struggle, fear and hope, pain and promise. I see a city growing strong.
Here's to each of us playing our part,
Caleb Musselman, Pastor of The SOMA Gathering
Caleb Musselman is the new pastor at the SOMA Gathering, taking on this role just before COVID. We are thankful for the ways we have been able to partner with SOMA throughout this past year and look forward to many creative and fun opportunities to collaborate in the year to come.
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Honoring Fred Rogers, creator of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, "Won't You Be My Neighbor Day" is on March 20th. Neighborhood North will dedicate the full week of March 20-25 to exploring emotions through mask-making in the Maker Space, followed by stage or puppet show performances.