On Saturday, October 16, 2021, the new Riverside Innovation Hub learning community gathered on campus and virtually for a morning of exploration on the artform of accompaniment. Accompaniment is the movement into the neighborhood in order to hear the neighbor’s story. In this artform, we learn to engage and listen to the neighbor’s story for the neighbor’s sake. It is the first movement within the Public Church Framework. It sets our focus outward, towards our neighbors and God’s presence in the neighborhood.
At this event we had two main purposes together.
#1 What is accompaniment and why does it matter?
We spent the first part of the morning taking a deeper dive into what accompaniment is, why it matters and how our incarnational God calls us into this work with our neighbors. Whether folks use the word accompaniment or some other description, this is work we likely already practice in various ways. Here are the insights from participants on accompaniment, shared in word bubbles they generated together.
#2 What could accompaniment look like in your neighborhood?
Congregational teams spent the second half of the morning brainstorming what accompaniment could look like in the neighborhood surrounding their congregation. Teams spent time together making connections between their current curiosities and possible next steps. They reviewed local demographic information and places of desolation and consolation they noticed on their neighborhood prayer walks. They identified possible neighborhood listening posts they plan to visit and planned one-on-ones in the coming months. Together, these various efforts are aimed at listening to the neighbors’ story, to the potential bad news in their neighbors’ lives and to where the Spirit is pleading for their congregation to pay attention in the neighborhood.
Congregational teams will be meeting back in their communities in the coming weeks to begin their accompaniment work between now and our next large group learning event in February 2022. While a busy holiday season falls in the middle of that timeframe, this upcoming season presents opportunities as well. What additional listening posts are there during the holidays? What opportunities are there to listen in new ways? Thanksgiving is a season of gratitude…how might we listen for what our neighbors are thankful for? Advent ushers in a season of waiting…how can we listen for what our neighbors are waiting for? Longing for? During this season of gathering and fellowship…how can we listen and look for those excluded or isolated from experiencing loving community?
We will listen, learn, gather, and ponder many stories from the neighborhoods of our churches in the coming months. Cohorts will gather for participants to learn from one another’s experiences with accompaniment in their particular contexts. When we gather again in February to begin the artform of interpretation, these stories will shape our imaginations for how God’s promises are speaking to our particular contexts.
Our RIH team is grateful to be on this journey with our congregational partners!