Cherie and I recently discovered an amazing faith community in our hometown–Grace and Main Fellowship.
Cherie was involved in organizing and promoting our local Crop Walk when she met Matt Bailey at one the meetings. The circumstance of the meeting is something Cherie calls a “God thing.” After talking to Matt for a few minutes she discovered that he shared many of our passions. He told her about Grace and Main.
Twice a week folks gather in the home of Josh and Jessica Hearn. Josh is a recent Duke Divinty grad and Jessica is an artist and school teacher. They have chosen to live in downtown Danville, among the least of these. On Thursday evenings they open their home and folks come there for supper and Bible study. It is a great time of fellowship and friendship. Many of the local people who come there are the marginalized, who probably just aren’t accustomed to being treated with dignity, respect and love. Along with those from the downtown community there are professionals, pastors, students, and folks from all walks of life–including a farmer and his wife.
We love Thursday nights at Grace and Main. It is real, authentic community. Everyone is welcome. The discussions after supper are awesome. We often take on the issues of social justice that are so real in places like the ghettoes of Danville and so easy to ignore in our suburban refuges.
A couple of weeks ago, instead of Bible study there was a talent show. There was art and music and poetry. A six year old played violin and an old man who often lives on the streets sang a spiritual.
Folks also gather there on Sunday evenings for a contemplative worship service. There is no sermon and there are no collection plates. The worship is interactive and always enriching.
No one with Grace and Main takes any salary and there is no overhead for expensive buildings and all the trappings of institutional church. 100% of the money that is donated to Grace and Main goes to serve the poor in downtown Danville.
The folks at G+M provide lunches every day to the people in the homeless shelter, who otherwise would have no lunch. They throw parties in a downtown park for children, many of whom are unwanted and unloved at home (if they have a home). They give out packs of supplies for the homeless. Tomorrow evening they’re hosting an Advent worship service in an unheated warehouse downtown, to bring attention to the issue of homelessness in our community. They walk the walk.
Matt is a hero to me. He is an ER nurse who spends three or four days a week walking the meanest streets in Danville, befriending the people there. He carries a backback and hands out food to those who need it. But most importantly he spends time with them, hearing their stories and being a friend. G+M calls it a “roving feast.” When Matt first started doing this (after reading Francis Chan, Shane Claiborne and the Bible) he found himself in some dangerous situations and was treated like the outsider that he was. Now he is greeted with smiles and genuine friendship. He has won the trust and love of those accustomed to violence and exploitation. I had the privilege of spending part of an afternoon with him and it was a truly awesome experience.
A couple of months ago Cherie and I joined with the Grace and Main folks to help plant flower gardens at a run-down apartment building. It meant a lot to the people who lived there. We’re excited about the possibility of helping put in vegetable gardens in the Spring.
As the facebook page puts it, Grace and Main is “A non-traditional Christian community in Danville, Virginia. We’re focused on alleviating all types of poverty and helping ourselves and others to become disciples of Jesus.” Grace and Main is all that, and more. I encourage everyone to check out the facebook group and page and to visit the website HERE.
I could go on and on about this amazing community. We feel very blessed to have discovered it.
As Cherie says, it is magical.