After the groundbreaking, we continued our discernment. We worshiped in the rented chapel. Some of us would visit the garden. The affordable housing complex began to grow beside it. A new ecosystem arose, the neighborhood, Gilliam Place, the garden, and APC moving and growing together for the common good.
It was a time of joy and discernment for us. We’d worked hard to see this through. We spent countless hours in committee and team meetings. Community relationships were built and tended to along the way. Through every moment, over every roadblock, in each conversation we discerned together. We weren’t about to stop now. We would snap pictures and share the journey with whoever asked.
Our call back into the Alcova Heights Neighborhood completed our vision of shared ministry expanded to other partners. As we re-grounded ourselves in planning our new worship and office space we continued working with our partners in ministry.
As things unfolded we began envisioning partnerships that helped us invest in the neighborhood. Continuing in the vein of mission redefinition, we wanted to have hands on projects that would provide for the community. Three potential partnerships arose in this time.
The first was a continuation of a longstanding mission partnership with VOICE. This interfaith group has long worked for justice in Arlington and we chose to support their ongoing work in creating more affordable housing in the area.
The second, La Cocina, was working to use food to create social change. They’d long been training residents in the culinary arts as a means to create financial stability. Their training program had grown into a catering business, kitchen incubator, and potential café. They would become tenants, mission partners, and neighbors in Gilliam Place.
Finally, there was ASPIRE!. This literacy program targeted students during their elementary school years. While we had a longstanding partnership with them and wanted to support their bid to build out space for their work, this partnership did not coalesce as we’d hoped.
However, together with the green space, these spaces of shared ministry anchored us to the community. They also opened the doors for us to return to Gilliam Place and build a church that fit our community.