In our first episode, we wanted to give you all an inside look into the heart and soul of our new church plant, Open Table UCC. We are a theologically progressive, Pottstown-focused church with Jesus at the center of everything we do. Come along as we unpack some of what that means through storytelling, scripture, humor, and our own lives. Please share this episode with your friends on social media and follow us as well. It will help us to spread the word about the work that we are doing.
This transcript was automatically generated by www.otter.ai, and as such contains errors (especially when multiple people are talking). As the AI learns our voices, the transcripts will improve. We hope it is helpful even with the errors.
Zack Jackson 00:00
Welcome to the reimagining faith podcast with the pastor's Jackson. This is a podcast for seekers, dreamers and fellow sojourners, who are trying to figure out what it means to be followers of Jesus in the 21st century. I'm Zack, and I'm Nicole. And this entire thing has just been one big ploy to get Nicole to start a podcast with me. We are planting a church in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, we left our comfortable, wonderful church jobs. And we are doing this crazy new thing entirely because I wanted to start a podcast with Nicole. And she never would, until this very moment. So people at home, this is a big deal. Hello, everyone. When we decided not to do this as a video, I think that was a mistake. Because I think everyone needs to see your face right now.
Nichole Jackson 01:14
Welcome, welcome, welcome.
Zack Jackson 01:17
So this podcast is somewhat of an extension of our church planting work, but it is also something that stands separate from it. So maybe like parallel to our church planting work. What we want to do in this podcast over the next however many weeks or months, or years or decades that we decide to do it is to unpack a lot of our core convictions that undergird what we're doing with this new church plant, as well as to interview really interesting people, difference makers, the sorts of people who are out there making our community a better place, who are asking really difficult questions, and who are just people that we think that you would really like to know. So we should probably we've mentioned a church plant a few times share the name, but probably we should probably stop calling it the church plant
Nichole Jackson 02:19
that church plant the church plant. Yeah. The name of our church plant is Open Table United Church of Christ. And we have at the center of what we're doing to the word Open Table, because that is what we believe. The church is really meant to be a place where you a place a spirit of invitation of hospitality of openness and invitation, where everyone is welcome. Everyone is invited and valued and honored at that table. And that table is one that is designed to be spacious enough that anyone can sit at it. I guess we can maybe share a bit about our core values.
Zack Jackson 03:16
Yeah, yeah. So at our core, we are striving to be a theologically progressive, Pottstown focused church with Jesus at the center of everything that we do. Now, that combination of things, I just haven't found much of out there, which I think there is this niche, this group of people looking for what a friend of mine called this convergence of ideologies, people who are theologically progressive, which I mean, I'll unpack that in just a second, but also very much committed to where they happen to be in this moment, which for us, I mean, technically right now is in Reading, but we are sitting at our dining room table right now, with moving boxes behind me, all of us getting ready to set forward on this new journey and with Jesus at the center. Because my experience has been that a lot of times when you are a very progressive church, we get a little scared of offending people, I think and in the name of Jesus has been used. My goodness, what since Constantine, to, you know, murder people and do awful, terrible, horrible things. And so, so many in the progressive church have just become so apologetic, I think or maybe just afraid to offend people that we stop using the name of Jesus. There have been times where I've been in progressive circles. Listen, I've quoted the Bible and been like, it's another guy with the Bible trying to, like, it doesn't compute for me, because my progressive theology comes from the Bible. Like, I was a super conservative Christian before I read the Bible seriously. And when I started studying the Bible seriously, in my super conservative school, it made me progressive. Like, I don't know how you can get that close to the teachings of Jesus and not come away with some progressive ideals.
Nichole Jackson 05:40
But what do you mean by progressive? I'm so
Zack Jackson 05:43
glad you asked. I've been thinking about this a lot, because I don't think that the dichotomies are super helpful in being like, you know, this group bad, this group, good, because that's, that's how you win elections. But that's not how you build a church or movement or friends or people. And so what I think it comes down to is where do you think the ultimate truth lies? Does it lie in something behind? Is it a golden age? Is it a revelation that has been made perfect in the past? Is it a set of ideals? Is it an unchanging book or dogma or doctrine? Is it something that has been that we need to reach backwards to recover? Or is it something that has yet to be fully revealed in the future that we are working towards uncovering now? If you answered affirmative in the first one, you probably are more conservative, hence the name conserve, you're trying to recover, conserve the past. If you think that, you know, truth is being revealed progressively, as we move forward, then you might be more of a progressive thinker. And that's at the heart, I think of what it is that I don't believe that there is a golden age, or, you know, a faith that we need to recover, or, you know, absolute truths that are held about how to live our lives and interact with God, that are contained within the scriptures, and then they are unchanging forever. I think that God is always unfolding, always, always allowing us to reimagine scripture, our our Jewish friends always say that the scriptures are like, a multifaceted gem that you turn, and then every time you turn it, it shines in the light a little bit differently. And it's one of my rabbi friends once told me that the Torah is an infinite gift from an infinite God. And so how could we ever assume to have a finite understanding of it? Is that the kind of lies at the heart of what I mean, by theologically progressive? Do you have a different way of thinking about that?
No, that's pretty good.
Zack Jackson 08:02
Oh, thank you. Good, thank you. I mean, then what comes out of that, like, what? If that's at the core of what it means to be theologically progressive, then what does that look like in practice? If you take those truths, those those foundational truths? How does it work itself out in practice? For me, one of my biggest convictions is that science is real. I am one of the hosts of the down the wormhole podcast, which has been podcasting for nearly three years, on topics of science and religion. And, you know, we just keep on having more content, because there's so much more to explore in the ways the relationship between between science and faith when you take them both seriously. And you let them, you know, exist together, that there are always new things to discover and to talk about and insights that they provide to each other. And, you know, historically speaking, the church has not always done that, then sometimes the church has been like, Well, the Bible says that there's a firmament above us, and that the sun moves in the Earth's standstill that's in the Bible. So then that's the truth as it was revealed to us in the past. And so we can't accept the new stuff coming from Galileo and Copernicus and all them and so we got to murder them, because that's what we do. We're Christians, we murder people. That's sarcasm. We don't murder people on this podcast. We do not affirm murdering people on this podcast to not let that be known. But that's one of the examples of how that works itself out in my life. How about it? How about in yours?
Nichole Jackson 09:46
Well, I think that Jesus was quite a radical lover like, he loved the people that that his his colleagues didn't love or disregarded or rejected. And he was always kind of pushing the envelope on who was welcome at that table. And so I think, I think that's, that's kind of the way that the church is supposed to be doing things to. So it doesn't, I think love your neighbor as yourself is not necessarily a progressive ideal. But if you take it seriously, that means that we love people who love differently than us who identify differently, then, maybe how each and every one of us identify so. So one of the progressive ideals that's really important to me is that, that our theology would be good news for, for the LGBTQIA community that it would be good news for my black and brown brothers and sisters and siblings that, that the Jesus that I know would be open, accessible, and an invitational to people who look and love and in play, and live their life like me, but also people who do that differently, that the table was never meant to be an exclusionary place. But that when you come to take the sacrament of Holy Communion, or the Lord's Supper, or however you call that special sacred meal, where Jesus sat around the table with friends, broke bread, drank wine, that is a table that is open for everyone, that there's nothing, there's nothing that you could do or have done in the past, or maybe even will in the future, that will make you exempt from that table. And so I think for me, if it's not good news, for those who are on the margins, it's not good news for those who are often rejected. If it's not good news, for me, as a white, straight female, that is not good news. That looks very different. For wherever you find your feet, where we find your heart. But I think, for me, that's what progressive theology means that that it's expansive, and much less limited than what historically Christianity has been.
Zack Jackson 12:40
So something you said reminded me of one of the most important stories to me in in the New Testament comes from Acts chapter 10, in which Peter who, you know, Jesus said, You are the rock on which I will build my church he is in historically, you know, the first pope, he's kind of a big deal in the in the early days, and he's up on his roof is having a just having a day. And then he finds himself wrapped up in this mystical vision that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to him. But he sees coming down from the heavens, a big ol sheet, filled with all kinds of unclean animals, like ritually unclean animals, the sorts of animals that the hit the scriptures very specifically say, do not eat these animals, and in many cases, don't even touch them. Don't be around them. These are unclean. You don't, don't, don't don't big acts. And the voice from the heavens that brings the sheet down, says, Hey, go ahead and make yourself a sandwich. And Peter is like, well, this is a trick, obviously, because I am a super religious dude. And I hung out with Jesus for years, who was also super religious. And like, I get it. This is a test of my faith. And so he goes, haha, gotcha, God, I'm not gonna touch that. I went to school. I know, I'm not supposed to do that. And the voice says, Do not call unclean what I have made clean, Take and eat. And he's awoken from his vision by these, these these. These messengers who had come from Cornelius, his house was a Roman centurion, which just do you want to talk about somebody who Peter should not be interacting with a Gentile first of all, and not just like your garden variety Gentile, but he's a Roman. He's the oppressor. He's the people who are destroying or killing your people who killed Jesus. He's a Centurion. So he's a military leader. So he would have been the sort of people who was commanding people to murder Jesus. Cornelius had a vision. And God said, Hey, go find my my guy, Peter. And he's got a word for it. You. So he goes to Cornelius this house. And he gets there. And he talks to him about Jesus, right. And so he's going there against his better judgment, but he's like, alright, God's up to something. I don't know what it is. And the text says, The Holy Spirit descended on the family, and they were speaking in tongues, and they were doing all these wackadoodle things. That was basically like Pentecost, part two, Gentile, Bugaloo. And Peter, just in that moment, he's like, Well, I don't get it. But who am I to stand in the way of the Holy Spirit. And then he goes to the Jerusalem Council, the big wigs, and he's like, Y'all are not gonna believe what happened to me. And then he explains the whole thing, and they've got the same concerns. But he says, Look, I was there, the Holy Spirit was doing this thing. And it did not line up with literally the words of the Bible, and the truth and the literal law. Like, this wasn't just religious law, this is law, handed down to us for 1000s of years. But look, God did a thing. And I don't know what to do with that. What do we do with that? And the Jerusalem Council was like, you know, wisely. Yeah, that's nuts. But let's go with it. Because, you know, Jesus died, but then he wasn't dead. And then there was fire on our heads, and we were talking different languages. And none of this makes any sense anymore. So why not? Why not just rewrite the whole thing? And I don't, I don't know how we go from that story, to then saying, what the Bible says it. So obviously, this is the way it is. Right? Right. This is coming from me who at one point, I dated a girl whose mother was a Lutheran pastor. And I told her that your mother does not understand the scriptures properly. Because First Timothy clearly says A woman should not be in authority over a man. And she should be quiet in church. And it's hard to be a pastor if you're quiet in church, and she is sinning and not a real pastor, because the Bible said it. And now look at me, I'm hosting a podcast with my pastor wife. I'm glad to get church with my pastor wife. So obviously, what was what was good for Timothy's church in the first century, was probably just good for Timothy's church in the first century. Ephesus probably just was dealing with its own things. And the God's truth is being made manifest as we work it out in real time. But then, right, and I can already hear all of you wonderful people at home. And you're saying to yourselves, where does that end? What we can we just can we just say that God told me anything? Because because you know that I've got a lot of stuff I want to do. And it'd be great if I could have God's justification for it. So like, how do we work out what God is actually saying? And how do we figure out what we just want God to be saying? How do we hold on to an ancient truth, while reapplying the wisdom behind it in new ways without intentionally or unintentionally? Just shifting God's truth to fit what we believe in the moment?
Nichole Jackson 18:41
Jesus is a good, a good place to start.
Zack Jackson 18:47
Let's call him up on the Batphone.
Nichole Jackson 18:48
Yeah, yeah, I think those are really good questions and ones that I, I feel like I'm always asking, like, what, what is the foundation for this belief? What is the foundation for? Yeah, for the way that I live the way that I move in in the world, and whether that feels like it is faithful, or something that is like, out of my own brain? is a really scary place anyway.
Your brain? Yes, yes. Brain. It's great.
Nichole Jackson 19:25
It works. Most days. And I think, you know, I think back to Jesus's teachings, and I think back to the teachings that didn't necessarily have words, showing up and feeding 5000 People with like, meager resources and compassion and love. And that kind of generosity seems like something we should do to, like, seems like that, like he didn't go around and like check people's like, you know, moral checklists to find out if they deserved food like he just said, go go feed them all. Take, take what you started with and just go give it away. You know, when he showed up at the well and and talk to with this woman at the well, which was kind of like scandalous anyway. He didn't like, scold her he didn't, you know, he, he knew her. And he mentioned the things that he knew about her. But he saw her, as opposed to you know what she needed from him. I think there's something really beautiful in that, then you're you're welcome before you've like, gotten your act together. Or you, you know, the woman who was caught in adultery, like, that story is really irritating. Because, like, what about the guy like,
Zack Jackson 21:08
she wasn't just by herself? Yeah, like,
Nichole Jackson 21:11
she was committing adultery with someone. So there should be like, a man caught in adultery too. But whatever. Like, he didn't cast stones at her. He didn't tell her that she was a wretched soul and, you know, damned to hell. But she looked at everybody else and said, like, Wait, so who, who of you has the right to start throwing stones and like, protected her? Even though the thing that that they were calling out and her was was something he, you know, was part of his tradition, like, don't commit adultery, he, you talked about that. But he saw her first and saw these people who were willing to just, you know, destroy her life, because of this thing. And I think is Brian Bryan Stevenson, the, the person who wrote Just Mercy just kind of kept coming back to this theme of like, we're more than the worst thing we've done. And I think that is like, exactly who Jesus is. That's exactly, you know. And so that's where I start. Like, if, if, if, if Jesus were here, how would he be responding? Like, I know that WW, JD bracelets are no longer a thing, but I really wish they were because, like, What would Jesus do is like, if that's like, we have to start there, like, not what a book says, not what in that book is good book. It's, it's a great book. And I do believe that it was inspired, like, you know, it's inspired by God. But, you know, like, Jesus was was who were as who were following. And so, if I can say, well, what would Jesus do? Would, would he kick out somebody who was, you know, not living according to this book? Or would he like, look at that person, see who they are and like, get you're okay, you're enough. Like, just come be with me. That's what we mean by Jesus at the center. Like this stuff isn't just stuff we're like, coming up with out of our brain like, comes from a place of asking these questions like, What would Jesus do? What would Jesus call us to do? Maybe that would be a better, what would Jesus call us to? That's a big bracelet. It's a big bracelet. But that's what we mean by Jesus at the center like it's, there is a litmus test. There is something to
Zack Jackson 23:51
Yeah, it does seem that a lot of Christianity is like, the teachings of Paul and the Creed's at the center, and the stories of Jesus for the children. Yeah, but like, No, right, like, you need to know and, and maybe this is our fault partially and the corporate our as Christian leaders, as pastors, that we haven't more rigorously taught the Bible. Right, the stories of Jesus that we just rely on the same 12 stories, and we don't get into the nitty gritty of, you know, the implications of the things that he said and did and the Radek callosity of the things he said and did and what he was up against. And I mean, you start to look at even the historical backing of the the times that Jesus was in and you start to see him in a totally different light, which I cannot wait to get into This is something I'm super interested in huge Bible nerd over here. And second temple, Jewish history nerd, very specific. It is. I mean, it's such an interesting time period. But we're not going to get off on that tangent today. I promise you, we're not going to get off on that tangent today. But one of the other things I think about as a safeguard, and maybe this is something that is radical in the American Christianity, but is not anywhere else. Is that when we say that we're working out the truth as God is revealing it? We don't mean that we're doing that in our own private prayer life. Yeah, like, I'm not Reading the Bible, and then doing a little bit of research and hitting up Wikipedia, and then going, well, this is the new truth. This is the way it is because this is how it makes sense to me. We're doing it in community. Yeah. And, like, I think of American Christians are like, we think of ourselves like telescopes, like, we get the light from the heavens. And we look at the picture inside, when in reality, we're like a Satellite Array. There's this wonderful one out in the deserts of New Mexico, I think, right? That's the Very Large Array, I think is what it's called, it's what's in contact the movie with Jodi. Jodi Foster? Thank you. I've written by Carl Sagan, great movie, we did an episode on it on down the wormhole. But that's a whole different wormhole. We're like that we are all receiving bits. And so if one of those satellites gets some really weird Reading, what what do you do? Do you just say that? That's obviously true, because the satellite picked it up. No, of course, you wouldn't do that if you're a scientist out there, and one of the satellites gets a weird Reading, you would then verify it with all the other satellites around it, have them point at the thing, and see if they see it, too. And if they do, and it's some new discovery, then that's great. If it rewrites what we had previously thought about the universe, that's great. Scientists love to be wrong. It's the best thing in the world when we're wrong, when we discover something new, that helps to get us closer to some semblance of truth. But more often than not, it's just an anomaly. It's just some bird poop on the satellite or something, and you clean it off, and you keep going. You know, most of the things that people come up with, that's some progressive new truth thing. Probably aren't great. But we work it out together. And we have to work it out together, we check each other in community, why it's so important for this church community that we're creating, that we are not creating a cult of personality from, you know, the sage on the stage, who has all the wisdom and passes it down, but as a community of people around one big open table, who are willing to listen to each other, and learn from each other and be open to each other. And that beautiful alchemy only works if everyone is in it. It is so easy to destroy that kind of balance when you get one domineering presence, who is not open and accepting and this is, but maybe we take a second here and say that one of the one of the paradoxes of being open and being accepting is that you cannot be accepting of closed mindedness. Be it doesn't work. Because the closed minded people will then close everything down. You can only accept those who are accepting. And that seems hypocritical,
Nichole Jackson 29:02
to be accepting, because there you go, I think it's, it's really important to say to, to say like we all are on a journey, and like, I'm gonna mess up, you're gonna mess up. But there is something to be said to messing up and being willing to learn and to have those tough conversations where, you know, someone can call us out and we can say, oh, my gosh, you're right. I'm going to be thinking about that. And, you know, take that to God and prayer and ask, like, is there something in me that I need need to change and there's something different in that and then and just completely saying, going on the defense, and, you know, it's not my problem. It's your problem.
Zack Jackson 29:53
Anyway, yeah. But if you if you have a heart of openness, even if you are somewhat closed minded, If you want to want to be to be more open, then that's probably enough to get you to the table. Yeah, and you might need some correcting as you go. But like we
Nichole Jackson 30:13
might need, we do need correcting. As we go along.
Zack Jackson 30:19
Yeah, I've learned this in the past, in in starting a group that I thought would be a, like, really open sandbox environment is how I described it, because like, we'd be able to be safe to play with these new ideas, and then leave them in the sandbox. So if you say something that is potentially heretical, nobody is going to kick you out of the church, nobody is going to talk you down and make you feel like you are not a good Christian. If you say, Hey, I don't know if I believe in the virgin birth, or something like that, you know that it was going to be a safe place to play with these ideas. So that we can kind of grow together. And I wanted it to be so open, that I allowed people who were not open to express their non openness. And so for example, somebody maybe got up the courage to say, just don't know if the virgin birth is necessary. I think it's probably fine. If Jesus was just a guy that was like, God poured out God's Spirit onto that guy. And it didn't have to be this virgin birth experience, and this super Gods sort of thing. And then somebody else in the table around that room said, no, no, it's in the creed, and it's in the Bible. So if you're going to deny that, then you might as well deny the whole thing. And then that person who got up the guts to finally share that thing in church, just shut up. Yeah. And then they stopped coming. Because why would they come back. And then over time, because I had given equal space to those who are open and those who were closed. By the end, it was only people who were closed. And then so all of our sessions then just became Bible studies. Here. We're going to read the text, and what does it say? What is the one meaning that it has, and then we go home. And I learned that you need to protect openness.
Nichole Jackson 32:26
Safety doesn't just come naturally, because you want it to come? Yes, safety is something that you have to protect, you have to preserve, you have to
Zack Jackson 32:37
like vulnerable people, but also vulnerable places within ourselves. Vulnerable actions and vulnerable stances. We need to protect those. And that means sometimes seeming like the bad guy.
Nichole Jackson 32:59
Yeah, yeah, I keep thinking about the saying that it takes a village to raise a child. And I think it really, it takes a village to understand the movement of the Holy Spirit. Like it it. It takes a group of people who are following Jesus to listen together to move together to discern together and to fight together and to disagree and still show up. I think that's what we're hoping to create. Together.
Zack Jackson 33:40
Yeah, absolutely. So like, we haven't done that totally yet. Our church exists on paper. It exists in the hard drives of the State Department, and of the United Church of Christ data hub. It exists in our hearts. And it to some extent, you know, our group of church planters, as we're recording this right now on May 15. At 10:40pm is about 12. Right about 12 people who have committed to this work and who have gathered for what, three or four times around a table in Pottstown, literally around an open table in Pottstown. And we're still working out what that looks like. And I don't have any delusions that it's going to be easy to be vulnerable and to protect a vulnerable stance. In the long term. I think maybe we could do it with 12 pretty easily around that table.
Nichole Jackson 34:49
I don't know. No,
Zack Jackson 34:51
you don't even think we could 12 Jesus had
Nichole Jackson 34:53
12 Ah, he were he right like, and they were like all stars. They just missed this, this
Zack Jackson 35:01
just the one? No. All right. So what if around that table Jesus had just put the female disciples, things probably would have ended up better, they probably still would have ended up better, right? Yeah. I mean,
Nichole Jackson 35:19
they were there. They were there. They were the ones who showed up first, they were the ones who believed first.
Zack Jackson 35:25
They were the ones who stuck around the whole time, who weren't to shame.
Nichole Jackson 35:29
They must be telling idle tales.
Zack Jackson 35:32
Yeah, the first evangelists? Yes. The people who showed up to the tomb, or the men couldn't be bothered. Yeah, well, you wouldn't have seen any of the 12. Mary's abandoning Jesus.
Nichole Jackson 35:43
So this Open Table anyway, we're creating, that we have began to meet around that the will continue to grow as we need to create more space. It's right in Pottstown. It's right, right in the community in which we're planting. And we want it to be very, very, very clear that this is a Pottstown focused community. I said earlier that if it's not good news for folks on the margins, and it's not good news, if it's not good news for folks in Pottstown, it's not good news. And so, ministry takes takes place in a place in a time and in a in a location. And I've been a pastor in Pottstown, for about four years. And the village of Pottstown. And I call it a village, certainly a borough, it's certainly, you know, a certain amount of miles a certain amount of, you know, population, but it's, it's a village Pottstown is very, very committed village to making it a good place to live, making good place to learn, making it a good place to have relationships and to a commitment to making it a better place. And I think that so often, the church, the capital C church, is very invested in wordly. Where they're, they're, you know, invested in their programs and their buildings and their, their traditions and ways of being. And so then getting outside of those doors can be a really big challenge. And I don't think you know, any one churches specifically good or bad about this, it's a, it's a tendency to, to take care of yours. Which, you know, we're limited beings, we only have capacity to do so much. And so, Jesus, like when he went into the buildings, like things got crazy.
Zack Jackson 38:02
He assaulted people,
Nichole Jackson 38:04
he assaulted people, he threw over their tables. He was like, you, you're the worst, like, stopping bad. Like, he didn't go in and be like, Oh, my goodness, what a wonderful, wonderful thing you're doing here. He's like, No, I have some things
to say. Or like, Hey, can we could we talk about this afterwards? Like, it's a little problematic, right? Oh,
Zack Jackson 38:25
he's like, I'm abrade some cores and I'm a whip, some bankers
Nichole Jackson 38:29
get get out. Like, that is what happens when, you know, he came into institutions that, you know, and, and I, you know, the institution was important to him. Like, when he was 12 years old, he like, totally ran away from his mom and dad and was like, Yo, I gotta go hang out with God in his building, and they're like, you, child, like, what are you doing? She's was a very, he was a teenager, and he was totally a teenager. That was not angelic. But like, his ministry was on the road, like he was on the way on the way to so and so on the way to so and so he stayed at so and so's house. He healed out in the field. Like he fed a bunch of people in the countryside, like he, he went to where the people were, and I think, I think that's like, that's where we need to be like, we we don't want to have a traditional church building. We want to have a place that is a gathering place, a hub of sorts to where we can gather to worship, gather, to study gathered, gathered to pray, gather to protest, gather to have folks tell us about what's going on in the community and invite us to participate in the healing and restoration of things that that are broken. And and that needs to be rectified. So we're doing that in Pottstown. And we want to be very, very intentional about that, that, that what we do isn't just inside of the four walls of whatever gathering space we're in. But that we are doing that in a community with a village, and for the betterment of the village, with Jesus at the center of it, like we're not just out to be do gooders, like, following Jesus helps us, like, creates us to be good doers. And so.
Zack Jackson 40:39
So what about all those wonderful people joining us at home, who just so happened to not be Pottstown residents?
Nichole Jackson 40:46
As very good question. Thank you. I think that it is really, really important for us in Pottstown, for those of us who are gathering at Open Table UCC physically, in real time, in real space, that we be dedicated to Pottstown. Because that's where our feet are, that's where our bodies are. And that's where we live, that's where we eat. That is where we go to school where we work. But the idea isn't just isn't only limited to Pottstown. Like, if you live in New Jersey, serve Jesus in New Jersey, like your faith should be connected to where you find your feet. If you find your feet in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. serve Jesus faithfully there. Find your people find your village, find your community and and be invested there.
Zack Jackson 41:50
Yeah, that makes sense to me. Like, please, you good folks at home. Don't hit unsubscribe. But feel free to join us. Virtually. Join us in prayer. Take what you can take what you want from the content that we create, both in this podcast and through the church. I'm sure that we'll be doing tons of online stuff, because that's just the person I am. And post COVID I mean, what I'm post COVID What does that even mean? But anyway, post the beginning of COVID. Where
Nichole Jackson 42:22
do we find our feet? We find our feet and a time?
Zack Jackson 42:25
Yeah, but we're virtual. Yeah, we're virtual too. So like, if you are joining us right now, from the middle of Saudi Arabia, like, please join us virtually, but also serve where you are? Yes, yes. I love it. Find your people where you are. But also join us. Yes, that's great. We can be your extended family. But it is so important to be where you are, especially in this day and age where we don't know what that even means anymore. If you want to move to Pottstown it's a wonderful place. It's so wonderful. And it's growing, and it's booming. And eventually, in the next couple of years, there will be this like really cool new church business happening. That I mean, our dream and has been our dream since we met in the seminary is to open a a church that is a coffee shop first. And a church a worshiping church body second. So like most churches are the opposite, right? It's a worshiping church body, who is a church family who does the worship thing. And then they also go out and do things we want to be a do things body that also worships. And so if our focus is on that we want to create a, a place in the community where people gather where people can be met and known and loved and served, where people can organize for protests where they can rent out space to work where they can, you know, meet people in the community and they can, there can be local art that is hung and music and poetry and there can be a podcast studio for high school kids. People can record their mixtapes, like there's a million different things we want to do out in the community. And that that has been our dream for ever really. And I think that in many ways, getting the church out of the four walls and out into the community to create a space where the community can gather again, is really important. And that was our dream. And we are forming the church the worshiping body first and listening to the needs of the community now. And when you're trying shooting, right trying to die to our own own ideas if we need to, or to at least hold our dreams loosely, recognizing that because we love coffee shops, maybe that's not what the community needs. I mean, maybe it is, and maybe we will do exactly what we plan to do.
Nichole Jackson 45:15
I mean, we're pastors, of course, coffee isn't needed. But, you know, what if there's an area that has very little access to a laundromat, so what if we were like coffee house laundromat, that's like one of the newest, great ideas that have come out of our church planting group is to have a coffee shop, laundromat, stay tuned. Hopefully in like, a year or two, we'll be able to say what it's become.
Zack Jackson 45:45
Yeah. Who knows, maybe it'll be a coffee shop, cafe, laundromat, bookstore, daycare, we don't know. It's what the community needs, and what the space opens and what the Spirit is doing. And so, we are learning to dream. But then not to cling to those dreams to hold the dreams loosely. Yes, just as we hold our beloved theologies loosely, and our beloved self identity loosely. And we allow ourselves to assume a posture of gracious acceptance of what God is trying to teach us now.
Nichole Jackson 46:29
And let me tell you, it is very, very easy to do this. Like,
Zack Jackson 46:33
I mean, for us it is it's for normal people. It's not but we are first, like challenge spiritual
Nichole Jackson 46:40
changes so easy. And holding ideals loosely. It's very, very easy. Yeah, I hope you are picking up on the tone, because it is not at all true. And that we're working it out as we go along as
well. Speak for yourself.
Nichole Jackson 47:00
I can speak for both of us
Zack Jackson 47:05
that I was talking about. So then, the future of this podcast, what are we going to do with this podcast with this, a little bit less than an hour time that we have together, hopefully, on a weekly basis that we're holding all things loosely, is for the next couple of weeks, at least. We want to take time each week to intentionally unpack some of the things that we have just briefly touched on. Now we have talked about a lot of things today. And that was kind of the point. And so we want to take just an intentional time to look at the deeply into the things that we hold dear, that are at the core of this new church community. And we want to we want to talk about our history with these ideas. We want to talk about the scriptures behind these ideas. We want to bring you into where Jesus is, and where we think the spirit is moving with these ideas and convictions. Those are matters of LGBTQ inclusion. These are matters of anti racism, of environmental work of science, of community building of Pottstown, of economics, of politics of the church at large, the problematic parts of our church, we want to have conversations with local, local leaders, we want to have conversations with activists, with authors with all of these people that are going to help us to intentionally and systematically unpack what these convictions actually mean, in a way that you can share. And that hopefully, you will also be able to grow along with us. And so these conversations will certainly be conversations, but I think they'll probably be a little bit more guided from here on out. Yeah. Which I think makes Nicole a lot happier. Very much. So just playing fast and loose. No, no, not really your cup of tea. It's not my spiritual gift. No. So that's all what you can expect coming down the pike. So if you want to support the work that we are doing through this podcast through this church plant, and just help Nicole and I to faithfully focus on this work that we feel called to do, I would invite you to contemplate whether or not you want to become a regular giver to this work. You can find us at patreon.com/ Should reimagining faith patreon.com/reimagining Faith, there'll be a link in the description as well. And for those of you who are unfamiliar with Patreon, it is a website that allows you to give a certain amount every month. And depending on the tier of giving that you're on, there are different perks available for you. And this is a way this goes directly to us into the creators. Patreon is a wonderful, wonderful website that was made a couple of years ago for this exact sort of a thing. So if you give a certain amount every month, you might get some perks, like you can vote on what the next episodes are going to be. There'll be exclusive content for people at certain levels, like guided meditations there, there'll be monthly video chats where you can talk with us, you can ask us questions, and we have to answer you, we are beholden to you to answer all of your questions. I mean, if you're at $50 a month, that is if you give less than $50 a month, I don't have to say a word to you. I'm just I'm just kidding. Please don't take me seriously. For Hire ones. I mean, we've got the handmade gifts we've got like we will promote your causes on the podcast as well. We've I, you should just go on there. And you should look and see where you feel called to. To contribute in that way. That would be a huge help to us as we are in transition and just trying to find some stability in our lives. By the way, I am so deeply honored and blessed and blown away by the fact that before we have even launched this one episode, this first episode when we had but a trailer for this podcast up on line that there were already 11 people who signed up to support this podcast 11 people who already decided to give monthly to something that had not yet been created. We love each and every one of you 11 people. And thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So we look forward to exploring these topics with you. Hearing your questions, your feedback, where you want us to go and talk about we have no idea where the Spirit is going to take all of this work, but we know that we will go where we are meant to go. Do you have anything you want to add? No. Amen and Amen.
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