Getting Over The “Us and Them” Mentality
Veritas has, from the beginning, encouraged its members to build and invest in the communities around them. Due to the location of the Short North congregation, Weinland Park became the focus of a lot of investment of time and energy for individual members of the church, community groups, and the congregation as a whole. We certainly saw God move throughout the years, but we often struggled to feel we were really loving and building relationships with all of our neighbors; it was often hard to get over the “us and them” mentality that often develops when people of different races and classes live next to each other. After sending our oldest son to Weinland Park Elementary for pre-k last year, though, we saw how the public school could be a really strategic tool to building neighborhood relationships. We saw how school became a great equalizer; we and the other parents were all in the same boat. While we still had more privilege than a lot of the other parents at the school, people were generally less skeptical of us and were willing to talk to us. There was mutuality–their kids comforted our kid when he was sad in the morning. Their kids helped my son learn his sight words. Their kids helped teach him about their culture, their families, their foods, and their music. It was beautiful, and we felt so excited and encouraged.
Naturally, we shared our excitement with our friends and neighbors who attended Veritas, and some of them decided to join us. This year, there are about a half dozen families from Veritas who live in the neighborhood and are sending their kids to the school. I work for the school part-time now, and there is a teacher and a student-teacher who attend Veritas at the school. As I look out on the crowds of students and families at school parties and events, my heart is warmed when I see families from Veritas who are there. I feel so thankful and so proud to see them engaging the staff, students, and families with love and respect. I see them trying to empower and encourage other parents to be involved. I see them sacrificing their time and energy to try to make the school a place where every child gets a great education. And as I get to sit back and witness these events, I can’t help but feel so proud of our church and so incredibly grateful that the Lord would allow us to be used in that place and in that way. My prayer is that we would continually push forward with love and boldness as we share the Gospel with our new friends and invite them to church, and that this would be a step in Veritas looking more like the Kingdom of God.