I wish I had started this site last year, so that maybe more people would have known about Uplift, maybe have gone, and would be where I am now. I know everything happens for a reason and according to God's plan, but that doesn't mean I don't wish I could change it sometimes.
For anyone actually reading this, you may have noticed that in a couple of posts I mentioned a discussion group Uplift. Really, it was more than a discussion group, it was a place where Christian teachings were presented in a loving, non-judgemental way, and everyone was asked to talk about the teaching and its applicability and meaning to modern society in small groups. What always struck me about it was how much EVERYONE, and I mean EVERYONE's opinion was valued.
Whether christian, agnostic, muslim, atheist, each person and their opinion was approached respectfully. Sure, everyone might have a different opinion, but it was not a place to bash each other and put other people down, it was a safe place to talk about christian issues, and learn more about the teachings of Jesus, whether you agreed with them or not. Outside of very few conversations I had with Erin, this was the first place where I felt my opinions about christian issues were valued, and I could talk about things that I couldn't with other people.
Dan & Kate would talk about a particular issue, homosexuality, truth, fear, other religions, almost nothing was left out. During the talk, the christian or biblical teaching about the subject would be presented, and we would break off into age specific discussion groups (college & career, high school, junior high). In these discussion groups we talked about many different aspects of the subject, oftentimes with a lot of 'enthusiasm', but always with respect for the other person. Afterwards, there was cookies & juice, and the opportunity for further discussion.
It was during cookies & juice that I think I had my most fruitful discussions, especially with Dan. I was always surprised at how encouraged I was to talk to Dan, and to discuss various aspects of whatever the topic was that night. Uplift was such a change from how Christianity had been presented to me for most of my life, the whole 'believe it or go to hell, no discussion' model, also known by some as going out and smacking people over the head with a bible.
Uplift was to me the most encouraging, loving, positive environment I have ever been in for getting to know more about Christ. I think it was that way for almost everyone who went there week after week, especially those who don't yet know Christ. If Christ himself were to come to earth to teach about God to unbelievers, we could only hope that it would in some way resemble the format we had at Uplift.
And I say 'had' and 'was', because as of last Monday, there is no more Uplift at West End. It seems Jerome, Dan & Kate are no longer welcome at West End, and therefore there will be no more weekly Monday night Uplift. Which is very unfortunate for all of those involved in the ministry spreading God's word, as well as for those who came seeking it. I only hope we all remember the lessons taught, and continue to tell others about the word of God. I know I will miss it, and most of all miss the people, and worshipping the Lord together.God_, General_