May 31, 2018
ETH Walk, Silver Spring, 2017
How does the Holy Spirit inspire our mission to make a holy impact in this world? When we think about social impact we typically think more about how we “help” others, less about how the helping changes us disciples. Yet that change may be as important and impactful as the other – or so I would suggest!
At Samaritan Ministry where I serve, those two ingredients are intermixed in an inspired “special sauce” which is how our mission was ingeniously defined 32 years ago, a sauce that continues to be a winning formula. It works like this: We invite potential participants to sit down with a caseworker to consider three questions:
- Do you want your life to be better and what would that look like?
- Are you ready for change and will you participate in the change process?
- Will you accept the coaching required to set goals and take the necessary “next steps” to meet those goals?
If the answer is “Yes” then we offer all the coaching, support, and follow-up for as long as a participant needs it to succeed – our proverbial hand-up!
But a second ingredient is equally important for us: When we invite a participant into our Next Step program, we also invite ourselves. In a quote that’s been on my office door since our earliest days, “If you have come to help me you are wasting your time; but if you have come because your liberation is bound up in mine, then let us work together.”
This wisdom speaks to who we are and what we do but also to how impactful collaborative ministry is. Samaritan Ministry wasn’t founded just to “help people” but to participate in their liberation, with the implied invitation that they will participate in ours. This demands a level of compassion, commitment and vulnerability not found anywhere or among everyone. But we – Samaritan and the Body of Christ – are not just anywhere or anyone. We’re followers of Jesus – so the greatest impact we make is when we are impacted ourselves. We rely heavily on volunteers because we believe in mutual empowerment, in a community partnership where everyone experiences for themselves the change they want to see in the world – generating an explosive and inspired holy impact!
As I write, our Partner Churches and Schools are planning events in our Empower the Homeless (ETH) Campaign where partners engage with those who experience homelessness, while building momentum to address homelessness in our region – great opportunities for holy impact. Five Silver Spring partner parishes are planning a Community Walk in September, St. Luke’s & St. Thomas’ in DC are hosting a participant success story on July 1 – or you can jump into a partner-wide 5K ETH run/walk this Sunday, June 3, from 8:45 a.m. – 10 a.m. at Bluemont Park in Arlington. Interested? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “ETH event question” in the subject line and we’ll guide you.
Opportunities for holy impact abound, but remember to bring yourself, because the greatest change may be in YOU and through YOU – that’s the holiest impact of all!
The Rev. David B. Wolf serves as Executive Director of Samaritan Ministry of Greater Washington (SMGW) and adjunct priest at Church of the Transfiguration, Silver Spring.