It is important to remember our story! In 2017, leaders from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the United Methodist Church, alongside local congregations Nativity Lutheran and Bend Church, put their hearts and heads together to call on their denominations to invite a pastor to Bend in order to listen to and accompany people in the larger community. Erika was called as the pastor to this work, ministry we now call Storydwelling, which has become a faith community, public sacred spaces, and a multivalent network of friends and neighbors standing in allyship for the sake of justice. The ELCA and UMC have continued to financially support this community, for which we are grateful, and the reins have been handed to new, emerging leaders whose hearts have found their home in this community.
After a year of promising starts and difficult interruptions, Storydwelling--in partnership with First Presbyterian Church-- will midwife ReVillage into the world in early 2021 as a new nonprofit.
ReVillage’s mission is to ensure that all Central Oregon families have the care and opportunity they need to thrive in work and in play by cultivating affordable, accessible, equitable childcare cooperatives, empowering parents, cultivating community, and advocating for system-wide, family-friendly practices and policies.
Our first co-op will root in First Presbyterian Church and employ two full-time teachers. Parents and caregivers will commit one day a month to serve as teacher’s aides, bringing the cost of ReVillage tuition down to 75% of the average childcare cost in Bend. We trust this model will not only make quality care affordable, but it will also create community among families so they can build power for the sake of our vision.
As of this writing, ReVillage is engaging in capital improvements to the space, recruiting and orienting board members, cultivating relationships with families, building partnerships with government entities, and crafting its founding documents.
Our community’s faithful commitment to immigrant and racial justice, whose seeds were planted in the very beginning, grew to new places in 2020 as our hearts were broken and our spirits agitated to step into allyship with the movement for Black lives in our streets, courthouses and legislative chambers. We began to see in clearer ways that anti-racism is a way of doing community, not simply a committee or a meeting. When Immigration and Customs Enforcement came to Bend, Storydwelling folx showed up in defense of our neighbors. And in partnership with Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice, Storydwelling birthed two Sacred Circles that meet bimonthly to deepen the spiritual work of antiracism and commit to public action together.
This starts to look like a laundry list of all that “we have done.” In reality, the work of continually learning allyship alongside immigrant and BIPOC communities is humbling, requiring ongoing repentance, study and relationship-cultivation. The work will never be done until all are truly free. We commit to this work as a way of life and The Way of community.
The following partners were instrumental in midwifing Storydwelling into life in its early months:
- The Oregon Synod of the ELCA
- The Greater Northwest Area of the United Methodist Church
- The community of Nativity Lutheran Church
- The community of Bend Church UMC
We are grateful to call the following organizations and communities partners and collaborators:
- Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice
- Cascadia District Church Extension Society
- Clergy for Justice - Central Oregon
- Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest
- Interfaith Network of Central Oregon
- First Presbyterian Church
- Unity Community of Central Oregon
- Sunriver Christian Fellowship
- Creator Lutheran
- Prince of Peace Lutheran
- Grace First Lutheran
- Leaven Community
- The Flame
- Together Lab
Gatherings that are Touchstones
In 2020, we continued to practice weekly or biweekly, public, sacramental gatherings to deepen relationship, play & rest, practice spirituality and weave our own stories together with ancient ones. Story and song, bread and wine! But this year has also been all about adaptation.
Tom and Lindsay Airey of Kardia Kaiomene continued to gather us by Zoom through the spring as COVID became a real threat to public health, and we now gather both virtually and outside, taking every safety precaution. We have always intended to be a faith community that responds and adapts to the hard and beautiful realities of our world and context, and this year brought that intention to fruition.