Celebrating diversity—in Glenwood, Illinois

TasteOfReconcilation72Where do sweet potato pie, Ukrainian kasha, Swedish meatballs, Italian ice, southern cornbread, Chinese eggrolls, and store-bought cupcakes blend in delicious harmony? Where do opera sopranos, gospel choirs, Korean soloists, and children’s choruses mix in harmonious diversity? Where do worshippers join hearts, lift hands, and rub shoulders with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes? At the annual Taste of Reconciliation hosted by Living Springs Community Church in Glenwood, Illinois.

Living Springs is my church, and each year approximately 500 people descend upon the grounds for a celebration similar to the Taste of Chicago, but with a deeper purpose. Each Taste of Reconciliation is a festivity of different types of food, different types of people, different types of music—all in celebration of the God who is Father to the entire human family. The event is an oasis of hope and fun in an area where racial conflicts are often one wrong glance away from flaring up.

Pastor Chris Spoor is the former senior pastor at Living Springs. Semi-retired now, he continues to serve in a variety of roles, and the Taste of Reconciliation remains an event he is highly involved with. In preparation for this year’s Taste, Pastor Chris sent a letter to other local pastors, saying:

“Throughout my years as a pastor in the Illiana area, I have had many conversations with church leaders struggling to discern how best to serve in neighborhoods that are ‘changing.’ Let me invite you to an event that will renew your hope, enlarge your vision, and refresh your soul—the Taste of Reconciliation, hosted by Living Springs Community Church.”

If you are in the Glenwood area (it’s south of Chicago, Illinois) on Sunday evening, July 26, 2009, stop in at the Taste of Reconciliation. Beginning at 5:00pm you’ll be able to sample foods from 20–30 different cultures—Dutch food and soul food, yes, but also Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Greek, Mediterranean, Ukrainian, Argentine, Polish, Korean, Swedish, and American dishes.

Stick around for the worship service that begins at 6:00pm, a service that reflects the promise of Revelation 7:9. Choirs, soloists, praise teams, readers, dancers, and preachers from different cultures will all lead us in heartfelt praise—some expressions familiar, some less so, but all God-focused.

To view photos and videos of the Taste of Reconciliation from years past, visit www.tasteofreconciliation.com. Or contact me directly for more information. Post a comment to this blog, or use any of the links below.

Hope to see you at the Taste!

Memoirs: enjoying the journey

A sample memoir, 10 years in the making
A sample memoir, representing a 10-year journey

What things do you wish you’d asked your parents or grandparents? Write them down. These are the things your children will want to know about you. Start filling in your answers to these questions, a little bit at a time. Don’t worry about your writing style at this point; just get the facts down. Keep adding to your answers as new details come to mind. This will all become resource for you when you’re ready to start organizing the pieces into a meaningful whole.

I recently worked with a client who had been gathering the details of his life in this way for more than 10 years. His children gave him a “memoir journal” in 1994, and he started filling out its pages, little by little. By the time he was ready to have me help him turn it into a book—The Geertsema Chronicles—he had a wonderful collection of memorable stories, illustrated with old photographs and documents. What made it a very readable memoir was the amount of detail he was able to capture. And he was able to do that because (1) he used questions to guide his writing, and (2) he took his time getting the details down on paper.

There are many different types of “memoir journals” available now. I have used To Our Children’s Children, available from Amazon.com. And Colleen Boudreau makes a point of encouraging writers to choose a journal whose physical look and feel will inspire writing. I find the journal’s content more important than its appearance—I look for questions that will intrigue me, that will probe for details, that will make me think of old things in new ways. Since I do my writing on the computer, I don’t depend much on the style of the journal itself. I simply open up a blank page, type in one of the questions from the journal, and start typing my answer. Still, if a journal’s physical style will make you look forward to writing, then by all means, choose one you find inspiring!

And if you get to a point where you need help turning your notes into a printed hardcover or paperback book, worthy to become an heirloom, I can certainly help with that. Check my “Manuscript services” page for some basic information.

A memoir is a journey, not a destination. (The words journey and journal are similar for a reason!) Take your time and relish the exploration. Ideally, you’ll appreciate the process as much as the printed product.