Dear Friends of the Phoenix Project
Grace and Peace be with you in the name of Jesus Christ, the Beloved. I am writing to you today with a heart full of hope and thanks. The thanks goes to each of you who have given us your support over the past eight years as we have worked to develop the Phoenix Project community as a place of Christian love and ministry in Lakewood, Ohio. The hope is for the future of this project as we move into a time of transition.
Eight years ago, we began this endeavor with not much more than a vision and a desire to create a safe place where people could journey together to wherever God is leading them. Over time, this vision developed into a worshiping community, a community center, and a vibrant and energetic youth group. We have provided spiritual and physical nurture to hundreds of people and we have had a lot of laughter, love, and life on the journey.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances that our mostly beyond our control, we have reached a point in our journey that requires us to pause and evaluate our direction before we can move forward. Despite the generosity of many individuals, churches, and our denomination, our financial resources are not enough to sustain us beyond 2014. This reality is compounded by the recent decision by our landlord to lease our current space to a new tenant. The combination of these two circumstances mean that we will be vacating our space at the end of this month and we are not in a position to commit to a new location at this time.
We are currently working with the Presbytery of the Western Reserve and a group of creative people to envision how we might continue the ministry that we started. We recognize the continuing needs of our neighborhood and especially the need for a safe community and place for the teens of Freak Flag to gather. We are very hopeful that these projects will continue without too much interruption and will thrive as a growing ministry on the west side of Cleveland. However, it seems likely that whatever shape they take going forward they will no longer be under the name of the Phoenix Project.
I am writing this letter to not only let you know what is happening and express my thanks for your support and participation, but also to ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we discern what the future will hold. We have learned a lot about what it means to be a church in our world today and we intend to take that wisdom and share it with anyone who is engaged in this unique kind of ministry. We would like to see the Presbyterian Church (USA) support the building of creative communities of discipleship and reconciliation in much the same way that we used to support the building of schools and hospitals. We are convinced that the Phoenix Project helped to create a foundation on which these kinds of projects will rise.
I will continue to keep you updated as we move forward. You can find these updates on our Facebook page or at our website (www.codenamephoenix.org). You are also welcome to contact me at anytime by phone (216)-906-3026, or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
So, as we prepare to move out and move forward – I am reminded of something I wrote about 8 months ago when asked to describe the Phoenix Project. I wrote:
The Phoenix Project isn’t a place; it is a concept, a movement, a community, and a witness. We are a group of people striving together to grow in faith and faithfulness to a Gospel that, at its heart, is about love and God’s radical redemptive grace. Some people would agree that church shouldn’t be somewhere you go, but something you do. The Phoenix Project is something we do every time we recognize God at work in the world and we choose to participate. The Phoenix Project is what we do when we live into our own resurrection on a daily basis, rising from our ashes and flying. The Phoenix Project is what we are doing each time we choose life over death, creation over destruction, mercy over vengeance, and hope over fear.
I will keep these words in my heart right along with all the words of support and encouragement and thanks we have been given over the past eight years. The journey will continue and the road goes ever on.
Peace and Thanks,
Organizing Pastor, the Phoenix Project
PS: If you have been making a financial contribution to the Phoenix Project, I will request that you suspend your giving at this time. If you are in search of another worthwhile organization to support I am happy to make some suggestions.