Last month forty Unionites and friends gathered at Four Corners brewery for a day filled with dreaming, planning, playing and drinking together. Walking in the door you are greeted not only by friendly faces, but also Mario versions of the poop emoji wearing a halo, sitting on clouds and surrounded by a rainbow. It’s an image known well by regulars at Union as, “Holy Sh*t”. This is a theme that floats around like the pleasant aroma of the Onyx Coffee for those gathered. It reminds those in the room that God is at work and in the midst of moments and situations that are, well, sh*tty.
Angela Uno and Tim Clark, active members of the Studio worshiping community, kicked the morning off with a performance of, “Defying Gravity”, a Broadway favorite that had those in the room swaying and singing along. This anthem that called the room to take risks and leaps of faith set the perfect tone as everyone got ready to “do work”. The CALLout booklet, a tool for those who may want to defy gravity themselves, was revealed at The Best Day Ever by Rev. Mike Baughman. The CALLout booklet spent many years as thoughtful conversations before being crafted into the booklet that exists today. It walks those who encounter it through Union’s Theory of Change, the seven Core Values, and explains all of the ways that someone may get involved with anything and everything within the life of Union. It is through this lens that most of the day was seen through.
Around the room everyone sat at tables that corresponded with a Union worshiping community, an equity group or other groups looking to start new things. The day consisted of time for each group to dream, plan and play together. They used the CALLout book to guide them in their conversations as they put thoughts to paper and created timelines for what the future might look like for their respected group. Everyone loves healthy competition, so midday the room ganged up against each other for a game of Quiplash. If you haven’t heard of Quiplash, you’re welcome. It is a game in which teams create answers for random questions and then the room votes on their favorite answer. Though it seems simple enough, the answers- usually inappropriate for a typical church group- had the room crying in laughter.
With the warm coffee filling our cups and the aroma filling our noses, Kat Kendrick, one of Union’s Coffee Manager’s shared with the group about Onyx Coffee and how great it is going to be to serve their coffee. She also taught us about several brewing techniques and asked the group to reflect on what kind of “brew method” they thought they were. We asked Kat to reflect on the day and she shared this:
“I’m so excited to share Onyx Coffee with our community and Best Day Ever was just the beginning. Brewing pour overs for our friends brought back so many happy memories. When I was asked to share a coffee parable I immediately thought about all the different ways coffee is made. In pour overs, water is manually poured over the grounds and allowed to slowly drip through. This brings out more of the flavor notes than traditional coffee machines can. Whereas the French press fully immerses the grounds in the water for several minutes before the grounds are filtered by the press. Also, there is the famed espresso. This pressurized brew method is completely unique because it emulsifies the oils from the coffee with the water creating the ever so delicious crema. This method really resonates with me because high-pressure situations always bring out something special in me, some sort of fire that sparks when the flint is struck. Is Union the coffee grounds that we pass through or immerse ourselves in as water? Leaving forever changed? Different exposure and involvement effects the coffee and the human experience and everyone has their preferred brew method. “
Fighting off the post lunch slump, we were invited to participate in a Union pitch wheel, which is similar in concept to that of speed dating. Each couple had about a minute to answer a question asked by Mike before switching to a new partner. The questions ranged from, “what superhero do you have the most in common with?” to, “When was a time that someone from Union supported you in a time of need?” Majority of the room did not know one another well before The Best Day Ever, but after the pitch wheel, it felt as if you had made many “stranger friends”, but friends nonetheless.
The day concluded with celebration and something called the, “Holy Sh*t awards”. In this celebration, three individuals and one organization were awarded a canvas plaque, and had a few community members “testify” to their greatness and impact on the community. For many, these were the moments that really represent what Union is about. People shared the formational impact that one another had in their lives. They shared stories about struggle being met by consistency and support. Words of encouragement. Hugs. Tears. Moments met with smiles and grown adults clinging to canvases literally covered in poop- radiating pride, happiness and hope for the future that the community of Union can and will become.