Terry Allen Moe came as pastor to Redeemer Lutheran, a traditional, working-class congregation in a poorer, mixed-race neighborhood in Portland, Oregon, in 1981. Five US presidents, six Portland mayors, and four Lutheran bishops later, Redeemer had been transformed into an innovative, spiritual-not-religious, member-based nonprofit called Leaven Community, and a new ELCA congregation--Salt and Light Lutheran--nested in the midst of Leaven.
This is the story of how an intertwining of spirituality and organizing transformed a pastor and congregation. Using the metaphor of paying attention to the voice of God in the burning bush (Exodus 3), Moe describes how he and the congregation turned to the burning bush of deepened spirituality coupled with hard-nosed organizing embodied in the IAF network. The process was not easy or smooth, but the pastor and people changed, and together they impacted the larger Portland community.
This is the story of listening, discerning, acting, and evaluating to address the upstream causes of pressing issues and of identifying and lifting up the public dimensions of people's pain. This is the story of prayer circles that addressed societal challenges contributing to people's private struggles. This is the story of unearthing and confronting the impacts of political decisions, overcoming the mentality that "church and politics don't mix." Sunday worship shifted to include the stories of addiction, job loss, rising energy costs, and ecological grieving from the members and their neighbors.
This book demonstrates how the power of spiritual discernment and community organizing can transform a community of faith. It's timely inspiration for congregations struggling to find their way out of decline and the immobilization caused by fear and lack of creative leadership.