This past year has been a tipping point in finding the courage to act on what many of us have been carrying inside for a long time. Now we find ourselves on an unfamiliar territory. And it is not a fun experience. Like Israel in the desert, Joseph in the pit, or Jonah in the belly of the fish, we have often felt we would like to be anywhere but where God brought us.
At the same
time, standing on the threshold of a new world, we listen to God more
carefully. Hard inner work is under way. It is a pregnant time. We
should not hurry our journey through this sacred space, surrender our
difficulties too quickly, or rush to answers we don't have.
To celebrate our survival so far, here are some highlights from 2007:
1. Formation of the Support Team. The Faith House project would never have begun without 44 families and individuals around the country, and internationally, who have committed to steady, long-term support. Thank you!!! (To learn more about the importance and functions of Selmanovic Family Support Team, click HERE)
2. Transition to "big bad city." Samir switched his employment from working for a large and supportive church organization to a self-supporting ministry with all of its challenges of needing salary, benefits, health insurance etc. Vesna has found a part-time job and their two daughters have adjusted to their new schools in New York.
3. Launch Team. Responsibility for the launch team is to prepare for the first series of public meetings of Faith House. The team meets once a month and is currently comprised of 35 people. This group of people has bright minds, open hearts, and a major capacity for the delay of gratification!
4. Lauralea Banks. Lauralea has joined Samir in leading the effort of networking in the city, recruiting founders from Jewish and Muslim traditions, and contacting organizations with whom Faith House can develop partnerships. She does this on a small stipend and some additional money she has been raising herself. (To learn more about Lauralea click HERE, to learn more about Lauralea's Support Team click HERE.)
5. Network development. We have participated in different events where we have met amazing people from whom we can learn. One of the venues was the Urgent Conversations after the play Masked in New York. Samir has been a panelist on two occasions and has facilitated one of the panel discussions.
6. Talking, talking, and more talking. We have made progress in addressing an endless stream of questions and challenges. We have revamped the website and posted more than fifty articles; distributed more than 600 business cards in the city, nationally, and internationally; and grown our newsletter subscriptions from 300 in August to 700 in December. Visits to our website have doubled in the second part of the year, totaling 22,000 for 2007. These are small numbers but wonderful just the same!
7. House Rule. We have been working on a set of 16 principles that would help us, over time, establish the DNA of Faith House. It has taken much time and energy and is being reviewed by our mentors. In the process we have consulted other interfaith initiatives seeking to avoid pitfalls and nurture good will.
8. Board of Directors. We have our first two members! And we hope to add three more this coming year. This board will eventually be comprised of 10-12 people, meet quarterly, supervise Faith House leadership, ask hard questions, offer guidance, and give blessing.
9. A major turn in strategy. The Launch Team along with our mentors have decided to postpone our launch date to the Fall of 2008 in order to find and engage founders from Muslim and Jewish tradition in making decisions about Faith House from the start, thus making decisions "with them" and not "for them." (See our employment opportunity ad below and help us spread the word!)
10. Timeline for 2008. We have decided to have our first single public event in April/May 2008, start our pre-view gatherings once a month in Summer and launch our first weekly meeting in the Fall.
William Bridges writes: "When we are ready to make a beginning ... we are given subtle hints--inner signals--that alert us to the proximity of new beginnings. We get faint intimations; we hear a subtle breeze, and soon we begin to discern the shape of the next step."
Our deepest gratitude to those of you who have supported us and taken this difficult and sacred journey with us. We are looking forward to a subtle breeze on our faces this coming year!
Faith House team from New York