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Extending an Invitation

Notes From Our Trip to Church of the Savior

Rebecca Dietz sends this post...

Last November I heard Gordon Cosby preach at the 11:30 Church of the Savior worship service, where he has gifted his congregation for years with his sweet mix of humility, audacious faith, and concrete calls to action. I have heard Gordon preach a number of times over the years, yet this time my ears were opened in a new way and his words carried a beautiful vibration that nudged ME to action. Our kids--the three that live in my house and the growing brood that gather at KC--are never far from my consciousness. By our lives and in our conversations, the KC Sunday School teachers and care group leaders are intent on nudging, nurturing and loving our kids and ourselves into hearing God's call to create and heal our amazing world.

Gordon's life and vision, along with many dedicated companions throughout the Church of the Savior family, have combined to create healing and possibility for an uncountable number of marginalized and suffering people in Washington D.C. Our own Kittamaqundi Church grew out of an association with Church of the Savior. As Charlie Powell remembers it, 1n 1969 Gordon told a group of Church of the Savior members residing in Columbia and Baltimore, including Jim Rouse and his first wife, Libby, to create a church where they were living. And so they did, and here we are, 39 years later. I wanted our kids to meet Gordon, and learn about some of the missions of Church of the Savior. Becca Stelle, KC's former pastor, who now works closely with Gordon, arranged a tour to see and learn about Christ's House (a shelter/community for homeless people too sick to return to the streets and too well to be in the hospital), and a meeting where we could hear from Gordon about his work and call. We were also blessed with Becca's presence and heard about the very unusual church she is mentoring.

In speaking to us Gordon boiled the purpose of our lives down to loving each other, and "not just your mother-in-law" but paying particular attention to those who struggle to find a place in our social and economic structures. "That is what Jesus told us to do," Gordon said simply. He told us many stories of how God has directed and worked through the joint efforts of those who answered the call to discipleship within the Church of the Savior umbrella. If you have ever heard Gordon speak, you will be able to imagine the delightful southern cadence of his speech and the unusual ability he has to pare a story down to its heart.

Gordon had a close relationship with Jim Rouse for many years and told us stories of their partnership, as well as some of the experiences that led Rouse to envision and develop our own community of Columbia. He recounted a time where Rouse asked Gordon to take him to the worst place he had ever seen in D.C. Gordon took him to visit a single mother with several children. During their visit they were treated to bugs crawling over the couch they were sitting on, and a stream of mice and rats running through the room. After they left Rouse observed he had seen many terrible places around the world in his work and travels as a community planner, but never had he seen anything as bad as that.

"Jim wanted to build a city from the ground up," Gordon told us, "The kind of city where we could live like Jesus wants us to live." Chew on that one for a while. Do we live in such a community? Rouse wanted to create a community with economic and racial diversity and no poverty. When I lived and worked in D.C. as a social worker, the poor and suffering were front and center in my life. In Columbia, however, where I relate to people as an upper middle class resident, I rarely even think to ask myself who needs my help. Having the Cold Weather Shelter at KC is a good reminder that there are those among us for whom life is difficult in a very basic way. As some of us lamented Rouse's death, we also talked about the need for all of us to have a vision of what our community should be and take responsibility for its creation and sustenance, rather that relying on a visionary and charismatic leader to keep things going.

Perhaps someone else who went along to D.C. will add to this blog. In addition, you can talk to the kids that went along--Lani, Jesse, Griffin, William, Ethan and Jordan--or any of the adults--Frank Turban, Mary Jane Sasser, Sharon Setzer, and Yung Trinh.

Thanks for listening.

Rebecca Dietz


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Nan Powell

You've blessed us with your writing, Rebecca, Thanks! Nan


Rebecca you are an answered prayer for our church and children. Your vision and spritual presence offer us a unique and holy youth program. I am filled with gratitude to God for sending you to us and gratitude to you for answering God's call to join our church. May God continue to bless you.


Rebecca, thank you for this wonderful piece of writing.

Your work with the meditation centers has made me feel that my art is more than a hobby, and has given me another way to contribute to the life of the community. Thank you so much.

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