The work of the 787 Collective feels hard to quantify in some respects, and can be difficult to pin down. We encourage churches. We study creativity, and try to find new and genuine ways to practice it in our lives and our churches. We care about young adults and want to understand their lives through the lens of love and compassion. We make art. We believe in social justice, and are committed to finding new intersections in our lives of the way we practice church and faith and the passion we have for the heart of the Gospel.
In February 2017, we began our work with a few nascent ideas and a killer Mardi Gras kick-off party. We led with stories from the lives of young adults who are working in and around issues of social justice, particularly with vulnerable or marginalized populations. We heard what one congregational member called the “Christian impulse” in so many of the stories shared by young adults, even though many of them were religiously unaffiliated. We sat with that information, and listened more. Pastors and lay people from Austin and the surrounding areas went into a period of discernment: Who are these young adults? Who are we as a congregation? How is God calling us to move and act and be for this community? In short, we asked congregations to discern earnestly their sense of call towards this work and their capacity to join this collective undertaking. And the good news is that twelve congregations said yes!!
By January of 2018, we announced the core congregational members of The 787 Collective. And in February 2018, we gathered for the first time. Here was the scripture that illuminated and inspired our first gathering:
(Mark, Chapter 6:7-13 from Eugene Peterson’s The Message)
Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions: “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple. And no luxury inns. Get a modest place and be content there until you leave. If you’re not welcomed, not listened to, quietly withdraw. Don’t make a scene. Shrug your shoulders and be on your way.” Then they were on the road. They preached with joyful urgency that life can be radically different; right and left they sent the demons packing; they brought wellness to the sick, anointing their bodies, healing their spirits.
The spring has been a whirlwind of efforts individually and as a Collective. We invited our churches to a 6 Week Challenge in which each church would host a gathering of young adults andalso experiment with “Happenings” alone or together in which they found new ways to take their faith practice public or ground it in new incarnations. We celebrated the success and failure of our work (with full on failure awards!) at an old school dinner on the grounds. We held book discussions, commissioned and read new plays about the twentysomething experience, created public action around political issues directly affecting young adults, and spent a weekend discussing the practice of innovation in a theological context. In short, we’ve been busy! But our strength is in our community, so we’d rather you hear it from them first. The following blog posts will be snapshots of events from participants recapping what it’s all about from their own, unique perspective. Stay tuned!