We never know what will emerge in a Living Room Conversation!
Refugee Families and Zero Tolerance was the topic for the July Living Room Conversations gathering at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, described in our weekly note of September 5th. As you may remember, the participants found common ground in wanting to support immigrant families in the neighborhood. A follow-up meeting identified building relationships as the first step. The intersection of the two communities was obvious: St. Luke’s is on a corner across from the public elementary school. The church’s parking lot is a safe place where parents park their cars before walking their children across the street to school. So, the group decided to host Coffee on the Corner for six Friday mornings, beginning with the first week of school.
Four months later, Coffee on the Corner has become part of the church’s ministry. The results of this simple offering fill us with gratitude:
- Donnell, the mainstay volunteer on the Corner (pictured with the new coffee cart), was a first-time participant at the July Conversation. Recently, when she began a new job, she negotiated a later starting time on Friday so that she can continue in her role! And now she has agreed to stand for election to a leadership position in the church.
- Two mothers shared their excitement about transitioning their families from the Salvation Army shelter, where they shared a large room with 23 other families, to the Presbyterian Night Shelter where they room with just their own children. They were invited to “shop” at the church’s huge Garage Sale, where staff gave them clothing, linens and other things they needed. They asked if they could contact a friend who had recently moved from the shelter to an apartment but had no furnishings or kitchen supplies. She arrived a few minutes later and was happy to get pots, pans, skillets and other household items. She asked if there was an inflatable air bed because she had been sleeping directly on the floor. As God would have it, there happened to be one air mattress!
- Connection with the counselor from the nearby middle school led to collecting college shirts for students to wear when they have no uniforms.
- A trio of mothers who walk the middle school track asked for help with English and offered to help the coffee group with Spanish.
- People sometimes ask for prayer with pleas such as “Pray for my marriage. We are in counseling and trusting God, but we are having a very hard time.” “Pray for my daughter who is sick this week and unable to be in school.” “Our apartment burned, my husband cannot get work in construction. We are in a new neighborhood and trying to survive, but God is good. Thank you for the coffee, as I was very sleepy driving.”
- Students, parents, teachers and crossing guards express appreciation for being noticed and treated to food and drink.
We still don’t know where this journey will lead. One thing is clear: the July Living Room Conversation, which opened hearts in a powerful way and challenged a small group of people to try something new, has led to building a new level of connection in this community. New relationships are blossoming. New leadership is emerging. New levels of trust are growing. Each week brings new interactions, deeper conversations and renewed commitment to volunteer.
All this is happening because six people sat at a table together and listened for common ground in their Conversation. Who would you like to invite to a Conversation?
Faith Communities Partner
Living Room Conversations