Free Hugs

This morning, I drew up a sign for “Free Hugs” and stood outside the Starbucks at Washington Blvd and Sepulveda. I wanted to be a bold witness for unity in our immediate community.

Walden tagged along – and Tom Zehnder jumped in – as we said hello to passersby, waved at cars and, yes, hugged dozens of people. The response was overwhelming. I saw tears, heard honks with waves as cars passed, and recognized the empty look of people who are lost. Our community needs signs of hope and examples of compassion and inclusion.

I also reached out to the leadership of the King Fahad Mosque just up the road from us. We will welcome opportunities in the future to stand with them as people of faith.

I already love our church. While I have been your pastor for just about 4 months, I can already tell that God does amazing things with this beloved community. Let me tell you what I see about who we are.

  • We are a diverse and inclusive community – As we gather on Sunday mornings, we are largely 1st or 2nd generation immigrants. We have made a choice to come together and serve God through our beautiful harmony, celebrating our differences as they come from God.                                                        
  • We love the city now – while some churches would rather do things the way they have always been done even when it means stifling newness, we have embraced change. Our worship, our building, our kids, our partnerships reflect our choice to look to the future.                       
  • We are a bold witness of God’s unity and compassion to a world that is so deeply divided. Our divisions are becoming even more pronounced outside the church walls. That’s why now more than ever, we as a congregation are called to courageous unity.

We have the courage for such a time as this. I have seen how we care for one another and sacrifice countless hours while receiving nothing in return. Our world needs the witness we have to give.

Here is the blessing I say at the end of each worship service:

“Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold on to what is good; return no one evil for evil. Strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the suffering; honor all people. Love and serve the Lord rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”This is our story.Pastor Frances Wattman Rosenau

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