I am visiting my mother this week in Lamar, Colorado. Lamar is a small town in Southeastern Colorado with a population of 9,500 people and 10,000+ cattle. My mother is the mayor of Lamar. She has lived here since 1994, owns a small business in town, and she loves it here. This place is her home. She has an incredible sense of community in this place.
On Sunday evening, my mother had an open house for Craig and me. She wanted to celebrate our engagement and introduce her future son-in-law to her friends. Several people came - some 40 or so individuals flowed in and out of the house. When they left, Mom commented on how any of these individuals would do anything for others in the community. She talked about how they are people who love each other and will do whatever it takes to support each other. She then said that no one can find this kind of community in a city. One can only find community in a small town.
I completely disagree.
While it is not as easy to get to know people in a place like Washington, community is possible. While we do not have front porches on which to sit at night, communicating with our neighbors, it is possible to have real conversations with neighbors. And, the church plays a crucial role in forming this kind of community.
There are people at Mount Vernon Place who know a lot about me and love me in spite of it all. At Mount Vernon Place, we are trying to be authentic. We are striving to be the kind of place where all can come and be welcomed - just as they are - despite what they do, what they wear, who they love, what side of the aisle they sit, what kind of home they have or don't have, and what they do or do not believe. At the church, I see people in their 90s developing significant relationships with people in their 20s and 30s. I watch as people cry when other individuals in the congregation are experiencing pain. I observe people getting excited and celebrating when people are experiencing joy. And, I see relationships being formed - real relationships - the kind of relationships that motivate people to assist others whenever help is needed.
In Lamar, people meet each other in the streets, in the grocery store and at the local coffee shop. It's not quite as easy to meet people this way in Washington. I do not know everyone who lives on my hallway in my building. I cannot call many of my neighbors by name. But, my church is different. When I am at Mount Vernon Place, I see people who are willing to love me just as I am, who feel pain when I experience pain, joy when I feel joyful, and who will journey with me through life. I see people who would do anything for others.
Community in the city is possible. It's not always easy to find - but it is here. We would love to have you be part of ours. Come join us sometime!