Forest Lake Talks

A Message from Ellen 2-28-24

February 28, 2024

Dear Friends,

I just returned to church from a meeting of The Decker Collective, and you need to hear the good news! Our partnership with Serve and Connect, to make a positive impact on the neighborhoods on both sides of Decker Blvd., is happening! From a small group of 10 or 12, these once-a-month meetings have grown to FILL the fellowship hall that belonged to Petersen Presbyterian Church! Present at Tuesday’s meeting were RCSD law enforcement, school district personnel, community members, Richland County officials, Mental Health providers, political leaders, Korean and Hispanic community leaders, Richland County Library staff, local business owners, Islamic and Christian representatives, and more! If you would like to see the diversity that our seed partnership is producing, feel free to come to our next meeting – Tuesday, March 19th from 4:30-6pm! Meetings are held at the new Serve & Connect Headquarters [8131 Brookfield Rd 29223].

The work of building community is hard, long, slow work, and doesn’t happen unless we invest and show up. We can’t say we are part of the family if we don’t show up to family gatherings. We can’t say we are part of a church family if we don’t show up for worship. And we can’t say we are part of our community if we don’t show up for the community.

I feel this work is urgent because, it seems to me, division and hateful rhetoric is increasing. But all that is needed for division and hate to win is for us to do nothing to build community. So, instead of feeling discouraged by division and hateful rhetoric, let’s do one thing to make things better. I invite you to come and participate in the March 19th meeting of The Decker Collective. The group is planning a community clean-sweep and trash pick-up, a community leader’s breakfast, and an event aimed at teens to engage them in conversation and to build connections. You can help with one of those projects. And those are only the events that are being planned for this Spring. Talk to me, Tom Leclair, William Hunter, Tommy Stallings, Becky Pittman, or Jodi Beckham – all of whom attended today’s meeting – and ask them how to get involved. If you are disturbed by division, then come and help us Bridge the Boulevard. Come and see.

And if that is not for you then choose something else to serve others. You are invited to attend the MORE Justice Nehemiah Action (6-8pm on Monday, March 18th). You are invited to help clean up Gills Creek on Saturday, March 23rd. Instead of feeling discouraged, invest in someone else. Invest in someone who cannot “pay us back”. Invest in someone who will help broaden our view of the world. I promise you will meet God there. Jesus said, “Follow Me!” – and he led into some rough neighborhoods. The work of FLPC will take us into neighborhoods of need. Will you come and go with us?!

Ellen Fowler Skidmore

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