My husband and I worship in downtown Dallas – Thanksgiving Square on Ervay and Pacific . We call it The Gathering. It is a service meant for the unhoused as well as housed folks. So, that means anyone can come to it. Kind of interesting how we got involved in this mission.
The church we helped start in Royse City had just merged with another church out in Caddo Mills. Caddo Mills is not all the far, but we felt God was calling us to do something else. We were not sure what, but it was something we prayed about and talked about. One day in late August, Stephen asked if I’d ever heard of a church called The Gathering sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese for the unhoused people of Dallas. I had not heard of it, but it piqued my interest. So, the following Sunday, we visited . Our lives have not been the same since that day.
I am not sure what I expected, but what I witnessed was the most amazing thing. I watched people,with little to no material things, worshipping the Lord- raising their hands , thanking God for everything they had- for life, for the chance to worship. I was humbled. Here I was, a housed person- a person who had grown up with ‘things’ , a person who didn’t take the time to thank God for my life, for what I had, for the little things I had experienced. I didn’t thank God for the ability to go to the doctor, the dentist, to buy a Dr. Pepper or a sandwich. I was so ashamed.
I never felt unwelcome. I felt loved and I felt immediately part of something bigger than any of us knew. I hugged and was hugged. I loved and was loved. I felt at home. I was home. I’d found my place in this world with the unlikeliest people in the world. Turns out God has a great sense of humour.
It has almost been a year since we began going to The Gathering. I was blessed to meet Jim Webb, the founder- whose dream it was to have a church without walls for the housed and unhoused people of Dallas. I am sad to say he lost his battle with cancer not long ago. Father Charlie Keen is the pastor, Tom Hauser, Lyn Burgess and others who are just as important, but names escape me at the moment.
Today was the first wedding held at The Gathering- Nikki and James. They’ve been together for a while and wanted to make it a lifetime. They are perfect together. Funny thing- turns out my daughter, Amanda, went to school with Nikki . It also turned out Nikki was from my hometown of Richardson. Small, small world we live in. Nikki made the most beautiful bride and James , a handsome groom. The love was evident in the way they looked at each other.
Once , at a wedding in Canaan, Jesus turned the water into wine. He did it again in downtown Dallas today – at Nikki and James wedding at The Gathering. Thank you Jesus!
for more information about The Gathering, check out these resources: