Making Space for Richfield to Gather
“A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other's lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.”- Wendell Berry
From our beginning as a church, CCR has held a handful of core values that continue to inform all that we do. While having a generous orthodoxy, one of our central theological convictions is the pervasive work of the Holy Spirit that precedes our entrance into our community. We trust that the Holy Spirit is already on the move and we seek merely (1) to ask the questions necessary to determine where she is already at work and (2) to pray for the courage to follow her in it. This practice involves listening to both the assets and needs of those in our midst and aligning ourselves to contribute to the building up of our community. In theological terms, you might say we are working towards revealing the kingdom of God through the pursuing the renewal of all things or shalom — but that sounds terribly academic, inaccessible, and self-righteous to be of much help. We can put it more simply.
We want to be a church that makes tangible contributions in our city, leveraging our time, energy, and resources to bring out the best in Richfield for everyone who lives here.
Over the past year, we’ve taken off our sandals and directed our gaze to the ground, trusting that — though we were not aware of it — the seeds of something holy have already been planted in the soil beneath our feet. Our patience and diligence have been met with the first signs of something strange yet wonderful beginning to grow upward: a vision for a community gathering space in East Richfield.
You very well might be thinking, “A ‘community gathering space?’ That’s awfully… ambiguous.”
Though the verbiage may have been varied, we have continued to hear among people in our neighborhood of the need for a dedicated space for people to gather. Richfield is a young and diverse inner-ring suburb that offers the accomodations of the urban core without the glitz and price tags of its more gentrified and trendy counterparts. The east side in particular is densely packed with single family homes and apartment buildings, the remainder of the land occupied by for-profit businesses whose primary concerns are understandably their own goods and services, not community development. This leaves nary a place for residents to come together for any number of purposes, whether for meetings, parties, information sessions, or other special events.
The dearth of gathering spaces does not result in a dearth of the desire for the fostering of relationships. Sometimes gatherings are organized in people’s homes, though the small, 1950s-era homes existing in preponderance in East Richfield place limits on the size and comfort of these assemblies. Others try to make use of the public spaces that are currently available, but each of these is liable to the noise and overcrowding of normal business activities. Still others have tried to use social media to foster community among residents and those who share common interests, but technology-based relationships can only go so deep. Resultantly, our diverse population that lives in close physical proximity to one another is often left to feelings of relational isolation.
If only there were a space and a group of people in East Richfield dedicated to bringing people together for the development of our shared physical, relational, and spiritual wellness.
We — the members of CCR and a growing number of other people in Richfield — envision a place in East Richfield whose primary purpose is the fostering of community among our fellow residents. We envision a large, comfortable, and technologically-equipped space open to individuals and groups from across our city who want to bring people together for a variety of purposes. We also envision a place where families can feel comfortable bringing their young children and where old friends can connect over a cup of coffee. Long-term, we foresee a stalwart physical location representative of the strong Richfield community which it serves — a place that celebrates the shared humanity among the residents who call this shared piece of land “home.”
We’re calling it the Richfield Placemaking Project, a collaborative effort to make a physical space that creates relational space for the people in our community to come together. Learn more about the Richfield Placemaking Project and how you can get involved at open4richfield.com.