Here is the report that we sent in to be read at this year’s district assembly:
Having just finished our third year of worshipping together, we at Living Water Church of the Nazarene, in San Diego’s East Village, have accumulated more than our fair share of wild stories. Through it all, the Lord has been faithful to work in our midst, and to reveal Godself to us through the embodiment of Christ in the people who gather time and again to worship the crucified and resurrected One. The world has not been good to many of our people, but God has given us one-another as a sanctuary, an encouragement, a grace, and a hope.
This is another year in which we saw too many tragic things. Children on the streets broke our hearts again, especially a 2 and 6 year old who became well known and loved among us. We saw them survive a wide range of illnesses, a mass shooting on their block (5 people shot within feet of their tent), bullying from both the police and others on the street, and we finally saw them find a home with a roof after 13 months of life on the sidewalk. Along the way we managed to start a weekly after school program to create a safe and positive place for kids to come and experience the love of God.
We’ve had many in our congregation survive serious physical assaults, sexual assaults, thefts beyond what we could count, and an endless stream of police harassment. We have enlisted these very people to help us start a food distribution, which brings joy to both those who serve and those who are served, sharing groceries with people in our community twice a month.
Addiction continues to be a plague on our neighborhood, but the Narcotics Anonymous meeting at our church has become an important partner in our work and a core mode of support for many of our congregants.
We’ve had baptisms, new members, moments of deep connection and radical service among our congregants, and we have been faithful in sacramental worship without fail, every week. We have finally begun to see people beyond our core church plant team step into positions of responsibility and leadership, momentum we hope to maintain. And we have come to be regarded widely (I think) as a bright and shining light in a very dark place where few lights dare to shine consistently.
Somehow we’re still here after three years, and we hope and trust that the Spirit will lead us on into God’s good future. Amen.