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“Collective would be a space for healing and wellness.” There is an allowance from within the congregation to be a skeptic, to ask questions, and still hold so much trust with the community and space. Going forward, Collective would be “intentionally open and accessible to as many as possible.”
Nate Caruso is a recent graduate of Stetson University. Currently he is working as one of the Summer Pastoral Residents at Collective after spending the last school year working as the Program Intern at Stetson Wesley. With his love of rock climbing and fondness for “short” walks in the woods, his contemplative nature has been a valued part of the Collective staff. This is his story.
Nate first came to Collective in August of 2016 because Mara, a friend of his who had recently graduated from Stetson, told him to go and listen to the music in a place of purpose. It was at a time in his life when he was feeling particularly sad and lonely so having an invitation (command) to explore a new community was welcomed. He attended his first Sunday service and liked what he heard, however he was more inspired by the delivery of the sermon by Ben. Because of this, Nate decided to reach out to Ben and become more intertwined in the community.
As Nate became a part of the congregation he loved that it was a place “to come to learn and not a place to come and be told.” When asked what Collective was like when he first started coming he noticed that it was established and consistent and “not a zainy start-up.” It was diving into the pledge drive and he could feel the anxiety in the air. Nate however noticed that the staff was “conscientious, intentional, and completely transparent” which was a change of pace from the traditional church’s views of pledge drives. He kept coming back to Collective because he was making connections with people, he was being inspired to live a different way, and he was feeling different as a person with different worldviews. He was hungry to learn more and with that began attending Occupy Trilogy. Nate was drawn to Occupy Trilogy because “it was like learning how the sausage was made. It was the elders, Ben, and me!” Jim Cain, Bill Brennan, and David Malinowski kept encouraging him to ask any kind of question because it was making them think in different ways and be better. Occupy Trilogy became the space for Nate to workshop themes and ideas with other people much like he had done previously in solitude in the woods.
When asked what Collective’s vision would be today he said, “Collective would be a space for healing and wellness.” There is an allowance from within the congregation to be a skeptic, to ask questions, and still hold so much trust with the community and space. Going forward, Collective would be “intentionally open and accessible to as many as possible.”
Finally, Nate picked three words to describe Collective from a preconstructed word bank. “Love, community, and courage,” described what he thought were the most aligned to our values. “Competition, power, and authority,” were the words Nate chose that aligned the least with Collective’s values. This blog series will be a fun way to see how this community has experienced Collective, and to uncover patterns in what values from the word bank people consider in line with Collective’s culture. Keep checking back with the blog to see what comes from my next interview with Jordan Michaels.
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.
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