‘What didn’t you do to bury me, But you forgot that I was a seed’
— Dinos Christianopoulos
Like so many things at Mercy Junction, we even turn the growing season upside down. It is in the fall of the year — as the light grows shorter and the temperatures cooler — that we see sprouts pushing through the soil after a long, hard season of drought that began in the spring.
In mid-May, the Justice & Peace Center at St. Andrews was forced to close. It was an age-old saga of a few men who threatened violence and made even this sacred space seemingly unsafe. By the time the legal processes had worked it out, we were financially broke and it looked as if there was nothing left but the burial of the hopes and dreams that had been Mercy Junction.
Like the dormant seed beneath the earth, things were happening in the dark, quiet places — things that many of us didn’t even see at the time.
That little seed was in fertile soil. A few people who hoped against hope and had the courage to dream when others said it was dangerous provided the needed sunshine and nutrients and water.
They began to donate and fund raise. They planned and schemed and painted and mowed and cleaned.
And now, with all the strength it can muster, with its roots straining against the dirt beneath and its leaves trembling toward the sun above, that little seed has started to grow.
On Saturday, the Mercy Junction Justice & Peace Center will celebrate its grand re-opening. There will be a vegan dinner and open house from 4-6 pm. Our new pastor, the Rev. Alaina Cobb will offer a blessing and lead us in a re-dedication service at 6 pm. This will be followed by live music from some of our building partners, including the Dream Collective and I Can Japan.
Throughout the event, we will have a silent auction, board games and playing cards, and an art exhibit from some of our partners.
On Tuesday, Hospitality Hours will resume. Hospitality Hours are those times when our sanctuary is open to anyone needing a safe place to pray, meditate, read or just take a nap. It is warm in the winter and cool in the summer. During Hospitality Hours, we serve a hot vegan meal. The free store is open to provide toiletries, clothing, shoes, household items, books, toys and more. We have a food pantry for humans and non-humans. And we come together in community. Hospitality Hours are Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, 2 pm to 6 pm.
Our regular monthly interfaith services will begin again on Saturday, Oct. 7 at 6 pm with Pastor Alaina’s installation. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, we will begin monthly Lord’s Supper services with these happening on the third Thursday of each month at 6 pm.
Joining Director Beth Foster on staff is new assistant director Terry Davis, long-time building partner and founder of UnaVerSoul Kids. Elders Joan Flores, Kali Meister and Maddie Nix are joined on the council by new elders Marghee Welch, Renee Campbell Hall and Laura Olmstead Richardson.
When the little dormant seed is in the ground, the requirements are minimal and it takes just a little to nourish it back toward life. Once those green leaves break the surface of the earth, the needs become urgent and many.
We need you to help us keep the hopes and dreams of Mercy Junction Justice & Peace Center alive. We believe in a better world and we believe we are working toward it.
Founded by the Rev. Brian Merritt and the Presbytery of East Tennessee, Mercy Junction is an interfaith ministry committed to social justice, peacemaking, equality and hospitality. Mercy Junction operates the Justice & Peace Center at St. Andrews.
We are still desperately in need of financial donations to nourish this dream. Our budget was $10,000 per month when we closed in May. We’re now operating on $4,000 per month.
We need volunteers to help with the free store, cleaning, sorting and offering hospitality.
We need donations for the food pantry and the center.
Financial donations can be sent by Paypal, through the Presbyterian Mission Exchange or through Venmo. Donations can also be sent by mail to Mercy Junction Justice & Peace Center at St. Andrews, 1918 Union Ave., Chattanooga TN 37404.
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” — Hebrews 11:1