June 15, 2014

Greetings brothers and sisters, 
 
Recently, I attended a fantastic conference on children, youth and family ministries 
called Faith Forward. It was a truly blessed time of learning, growing, and 
rejuvenation. One of the pieces that I took home, and that I am still blessed by, is 
the affirmation of our work together at Everyone’s Inn and throughout our 
ministries with young people and their families here at Los Altos UMC. 
 
We heard from renowned author and theologian, Phyllis Tickle, about the power of 
our Christian story, and how our work today in the church — is to help families 
share our story — both on our campus on Sundays and Wednesdays — and 
throughout the week! We heard from a few British Wesleyan Methodist Church 
leaders who talked to us about how doing and being the church is messy, but 
exciting work today — especially when we gather all ages together to do it! 
 
One of the most powerful lessons I took from the event was not from a published 
theologian or noted church leader. In the final session, we heard a passionate 
plea from a woman speaking on the conference floor. She described herself as 
“just a mom from San Francisco who attended the conference because it looked 
interesting.” She told us that she wasn’t a “church-goer,” because she was afraid 
to attend church. She was afraid of what would greet her and her children if she 
went. After attending Faith Forward and learning that there are churches with 
leaders and people who believe in our story of love, she pleaded for us to help get 
our word out; it is our work to share out of love that story with all people at all 
times. She shared that there are children, young people, parents, single, married, 
divorced emerging adults … and on and on … who are seeking, longing, and 
yearning to know about gatherings of people with Christian faith traditions that are 
rooted in love and a deep, authentic, sometimes challenging, and mysterious story 
of God. 
 
I will not forget this women’s plea because I hear it often here in Long Beach. I do 
not have to go to Nashville to hear it; I hear it when I pick up my children from 
school or daycare each day; I see it at CSULB and Starbucks every time I go. 
 
Deep, spiritual longing is real in our communities today. Let’s work together to 
answer the call to share God’s story and a life rooted in Christ with those who are 
seeking … 
 
Your sister in Christ, 
Pastor Melinda T. Dodge