Significant and meaningful conversations are happening in our global society every day. Yet, in the midst of this, God calls us as Christians to humility and faithful practice in the face of today’s most daunting issues. So over the next year, we’re inviting you to explore the nuances of peacemaking, refugee crisis, local justice, poverty, racial reconciliation, care for the vulnerable, and more with a posture of curiosity. Through a series of Learning Labs, or thoughtful sessions on the topics of our day, we’ll engage divisive issues from the standpoint of humility—in an attempt to learn from one another and grow towards unity over discord.
Let’s BE the change. Although gender-based violence is the experience of 1 in 4 women, the concentric circles of its impact go far beyond. And it’s not just extreme situations or happening across the world. Let’s come together to learn more about the current realities in West Michigan, and talk about what prevention and care may look like. We’ve invited representatives from Safe Haven Ministries and Solutions to End Exploitation (SEE) to help guide our awareness and discuss tangible next steps to help end gender-based violence. Join us on May 5 from 6:30-8:30 pm at Mars Hill. No need to register.
HOUSING + HOMELESSNESS LAB
During our November Learning Lab, we explored the topics of Housing and Homelessness. Leading our conversation was local non-profit and civic leaders, Dennis VanKampen [CEO Mel Trotter], Joe Jones [Pres/CEO Urban League of West Michigan and GR 2nd Ward City Commissioner], and Shandra Steininger [Executive Director of HQ] who work primarily with those effected by the lack of affordable/accessible housing and one housing policy issues. Our hope with these labs continues to be awareness, education, and transformation for our city.
We live in a culture that is divided, fractured, and deeply in need of healing and peacemaking. This dynamic plays at the largest levels of systems and society, but it is just as pertinent to our everyday friendships, neighborhoods, schools, and connection with one another. Jer Swigart, co-author of Mending the Divides: Creative Love in a Conflicted World joined us on Sunday, May 20, 2018 to equip us to see where God might be calling us to immerse ourselves in the calling of making measurable change in our own backyards.
Globally, there are an estimated 4.5 million people trapped in forced sexual exploitation. A number of them are right here in our hometowns… Each night when the most of us are in bed there is another world that comes alive right here in West Michigan. So on Sunday, April 22, we gathered to grow in awareness of the multilayered, broken systems that continue to entrap and exploit the most vulnerable, get caught up on what God has been doing on this front through Mars Hill, and discern next steps for partnering with local organizations and working towards measurable change for the oppressed.
Racial tensions are, in many ways, as high as we have seen in decades. The conversation cannot be ignored and in fact, the Church is uniquely equipped to play a key role in our cultural dialogue [and transformation] around race and justice. So on Thursday, March 8, we humbly learned about race in America, as well as the church’s past role and current calling. Together, we discussed and dreamed about what it means for us to live out the way of Jesus and make measurable change in our world despite the divisions and tensions we see around us every day.
In the complex milieu of borders, allegiances, taxes and war zones—there are more than 65 million people worldwide who are displaced and over half of these refugees are children. All are among the most vulnerable, easily overlooked, ignored, and exploited. In the face of this crisis [both globally and here in West Michigan] how can the church think critically and creatively about our calling to care for and welcome the stranger, while faithfully stewarding the communities and resources that surround us? On Feb 11, we engaged in conversation with some of the leading local and national voices to prayerfully discern a way forward.
Also, Matt Soerens’ helpful and accessible book on this topic can be found here. If you’d like more information on how you, your family, or your house church can engage in welcoming and supporting refugees locally, learn more at these outside websites: Refugee Education Center and Treetops Collective.