“Let me tell you about yesterday.”
Seth Kaper-Dale has been co-pastor with his wife, Stephanie Kaper-Dale, at Reformed Church of Highland Park (RCHP) for the last 19 years. When they first arrived, the church was a gathering of fewer than 50 people. It was not impacting the neighborhood and membership was in decline. Now, RCHP provides food for hungry families, employment for refugees, operates a farm and a farmer’s market, provides and manages affordable housing units, and advocates for their vulnerable neighbors. They are involved in refugee resettlement, working for racial justice, and caring for the environment.
RCHP has so much going on that it is difficult to boil it down to one story, but Pastor Seth says he can share about yesterday. It was not a neat, tidy day. It was a day that illustrates what it looks like to be fully invested in a hurting world.
First, the church received a call asking if they could house a man who was unexpectedly being released on bond in Georgia, over 700 miles away. They said yes. They have invested in affordable housing. They know how to do case management. Their commitment to their neighborhood made it possible to say yes.
Later in the day, there was another phone call. The call was about Emerson, a man whose family RCHP has been supporting through housing. Emerson has not been able to support his wife and three children this past year due to being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for months and months. Counter to everyone’s hopes and prayers that he would be released, the call confirmed that Emerson was being deported to Guatemala.
19 years ago, RCHP would not have received either of these kinds of calls. Today, because the church chose to lean in, it is a daily witness to the pain of a broken world and an active participant in God’s plan to make all things new. Both of yesterday’s phone calls are a result of RCHP’s faithfulness. Both phone calls are an invitation to keep leaning in.
If your congregation is ready to engage in local mission and wants to learn from what churches like Reformed Church of Highland Park are doing, consider applying for the Churches in Mission Cohort hosted by Western Theological Seminary. Find more out more at www.westernsem.edu/churches-in-mission