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Knowledge & News
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My name is Lisa, and this is my husband, Crenshaw. We’ve been coming to Collective for just over one and one-half years. Last year at this time, we had some medical stuff to deal with and we weren’t making it here very often. We were so glad that we could watch on You Tube, because Ben was doing a series then based on the book of 1st John called “Love Letter.” We really enjoyed that series and that theme, so we decided to bring it back this year with our own “Love Letter” to Collective…
Thank you for all the kindness and support you have given us. You’ve seen us through bankruptcy, medical tests, prostate cancer, gallbladder disease and removal, and heat stroke. You saved us from a miserable Christmas and made sure that I had glasses so that I could see to drive and gasoline so that we could get to our endless medical appointments. Oh… and let’s not forget two hurricanes!
Ben, you have been my lifeline in more ways than I could ever express. Caitlin, you are my angel that showed up at just the right time in just the right way. Jess, you make everything work, even when nothing is working.
When we came to Collective, it had been nearly five years since we had walked away from “church.” We had been beaten up by our last church and hadn’t found any place where we felt safe, so we had just stayed home.
Collective was clearly different from the moment we arrived, but what really got my attention was a line in the Community Statement! Would they really not make assumptions about the interracial couple with disabilities? And would they accept us… as long as we behaved?
To this day, I have not once felt that anyone here has made a single assumption about either one of us individually or as a couple. And - even better - no one has ever suggested that I behave in any prescribed way.
I’m not good at holding my tongue or taking time to think about putting things the “right” way. Thus, I am not as “nice” as a “lady” should be. I am a kind and compassionate person, but I am not “nice.” In fact, my compassion for others can sometimes lead me to be quite rude and belligerent. Or, as it is generally called in Kentucky, “Uppity.”
I’m an uppity woman. And here at Collective, that’s okay. In fact, every now and then, someone suggests that they actually appreciate that facet of my personality (Okay, it’s Bill - Bill appreciates my “uppityness” because he is so happy to have another Enneagram 8 at Collective.).
But, as I was just saying, it is often my compassion that drives me to be mouthy. And it has always been a sticking point for me that so many “so called” Christians can be very callus and lacking in compassion for their fellow human beings.
You see, I am not a “lifelong follower of Jesus.” Almost, but not quite. Not quite, because in my teens, after years of physical and sexual abuse, I decided that all religion was bullshit and there was no such thing as God, or any sort of higher power.
Years later, I felt drawn back to God. I had experiences that I would not even bother to try to explain to anyone that shape my faith to this day. But I never encountered Jesus in a congregation… not until I came to Collective.
"...in my teens, after years of physical and sexual abuse, I decided that all religion was bullshit and there was no such thing as God, or any sort of higher power. Years later, I felt drawn back to God."
Of course, if you’ve been here for a while, you appreciate the irony of that statement. In the place where there is never an alter call, never a prayer for the saving of a single soul, and never a requirement to believe in anything in particular - this is where I ran into Jesus.
Right here. Because this is the only group in which I have encountered true love. Love is patient, love is kind, and love cares about other people. Love is compassionate, and it is passionate. Love stands up and calls bullshit and fights for what is right and fair for everyone. Love doesn’t just talk a good game. Love acts. Love does. It does good, it does right. And Love embraces EVERYONE.
We haven’t been simply accepted at Collective, we’ve been embraced. We don’t always show up for the Sunday service, we don’t always make it to Collective events, but whenever we do show up, we are embraced. We aren’t just “accepted…” We have a place here. We are loved.
Love also supports and encourages growth. Collective inspires the continual development of faith. For some it is faith in God and/or Jesus, for some it is faith in an unnamed higher or broader power, for some it is simply faith in humanity, and for some it is a combo of all of these and more. Collective encourages spiritual growth, but it does not direct it. In fact, it is the spiritual growth of each individual here that directs Collective. Our hearts, minds, and spirits are expanded with each new encounter here.
Over nine years ago, I had a very bad stroke. The doctors told Lisa that I would never talk or move my right side. But Lisa stuck by me, and I am still getting better everyday.
I still have trouble getting around. I also have a hard time speaking sometimes. I can struggle to find words, and I lose my train of thought easily. So, I haven’t felt comfortable talking to many people other than Lisa.
The kindness and patience of all of you has made me feel safe. I am comfortable trying to communicate my thoughts and feelings.
Now, I also process information slowly, so I have to admit that I only get about 50% of Ben’s sermons - but, I feel comfortable!
This past Spring, after years of prayers and paperwork, the VA finally increased Crenshaw’s disability pension to a livable level. The first thing we looked at when we considered our new budget was how much we could increase our giving to Collective.
Our reasons for this are largely selfish: WE love Collective and WE need Collective. But we aren’t the only ones. You need Collective. DeLand needs Collective. The whole freaking world needs Collective! So we will continue to give as much as we can because we are so grateful for this congregation and it’s amazing leaders.
Thank you so much for your kindness, your support, and your love.
We love you, too!
Lisa and Crenshaw
PS - Stay tuned for more of Lisa & Crenshaw's story on the Collective Stories Podcast!
We are a misfit faith community that gathers in DeLand on Sundays at 5pm. Come as you are.
We value highly the metaphor of journey. We’re different people from different places and backgrounds, representing an intergenerational community, and we’ve traveled different paths. So, we agree not to make assumptions about the person across from us, next to us, or in conversation with us. We challenge ourselves to be sensitive, knowing this community includes a diverse group of people from life-long followers of Jesus, to people who are just now open to the idea that God might exist. We strive to avoid offense, ask good questions, articulate and explain our responses. We don’t assume fluency in bible, spirituality, or Church language, because we believe the message of Jesus is not for Christianity, but for humanity. So, we do everything in the spirit of love and grace.