I hope you were able to join us this past weekend for our first ever gathering for our South End location at Blackstone Community Center. It was truly an amazing day. While there is a lot to be celebrated I also wanted to take a second and share a few lessons we learned this past weekend that will help us as we come to call Blackstone “home”.

The South End neighborhood is amazing!

Seriously! This neighborhood is amazing. A rich history of fighting for racial justice, a former jazz mecca, and and a diversity that touts some amazing Ethiopian, Puerto Rican, Indian, French and Greek food (Seriously – my family walked over to Vejigantes after church on Sunday and it blew us away). It’s home to the SoWa market, the Boston Center for Arts and the school for the Boston Ballet. This is a great place to call home and we are excited to plant roots here as a church! As the weather gets warmer I invite you to walk the neighborhood, visit any of the surrounding parks, and find your favorite “after church” restaurant”

Parking is never easy in Boston (even with a parking lot!!)

Some of us found this out the hard way this weekend! We are competing with a fantastic brunch scene as well as neighborhood parking. Our gathering hits right at the perfect time for the Cathedral down the road to be meeting and for folks to be getting up for the brunch scene. We were able to park 34 cars in the lot this weekend, but had plenty of folks struggle to find parking. We are moving where our volunteers park and are working with our teams to create a parking team that will help organize and optimize our parking lot. We are also working on a “rolling drop off” system to drop families off while someone looks for parking. We will do everything we can to help make parking manageable.

We also invite you to arrive a little bit earlier and beat the brunch crowd or spend some time this week and find the best public transit route. We’ve had conversations with quite a few people who drove this past weekend simply because it was the first time, but plan on using public transit in the coming weeks. We are thankful for the parking lot, but still have some growing pains to deal with.

Coffee takes a LONG time to brew (but it’s worth it…and here’s why!)

If you showed up early you know our coffee wasn’t quite ready this weekend. We have worked with our teams and spent more time with our new coffee makers and will have it ready and hot for you this weekend!

We are excited for our new coffee and hope you are too, because it’s more than just a cup of coffee, it’s a partnership with our friends in the Dominican Republic. Many of you know we partner with Luis and Reina Vargas as well as GO ministries in the DR. We proudly serve “Collide” coffee at the South End. This is bought from fair trade farmers in the Dominican and Haiti and all the proceeds go to the 11 food and nutrition clinics GO has in the DR and Haiti. When you drink our coffee you are helping support our partners there!

Sitting closer to the front and together won’t kill you (at least not that we know of!)

One of our struggles this weekend was finding enough seating for everyone. Some of that was because we had so many people join us and part of that was because we love to spread out and sit in the back. To help with seating we are going to have ushers beginning this weekend who will help folks find a seat as they come in, especially after the gathering has started, but we also ask that you move towards the front when you arrive and scoot into the middle of the aisle to leave room in the back and the aisles as people continue to filter in. I’m fairly certain it won’t kill you…fairly certain…but no promises 😉

Dust can be a distraction or an invitation

You may have noticed drywall recently installed or missing ceiling tiles or even the ladders we had lining the front of the stage wall this weekend. Those things can be a distraction and for that we apologize. BUT they can also be seen as an invitation. An invitation to help us as we continue to make Blackstone home. We have a few more projects (installing the other speaker, finishing the painting, cleaning different areas, etc) and we would love your help. Keep an eye out for an invitation to future workdays. In the meantime, please pardon our mess while we continue to make Blackstone home.

A Community Center feels like a Community Center

Many of you noticed the “kids workout plans” or the “how to be a friend” checklists on the walls in the auditorium and the hallways. We did our best to “own” the space on Sunday, but are also walking the fine line between covering up all the “school” stuff and embracing and championing the fact that we meet in a community center and school. We want to do our best to beautify the space, but not simply for our benefit and so our space feels like “our church” on Sundays, but for the benefit of the school and community center. So we are being careful what we spend money on and prioritize in our setup and teardown. (PS – if you think the school papers were distracting, you should see the ballet mirror we covered up on the stage haha – maybe one day we will show you…)

Google Maps is a liar…

Many folks googled “Blackstone school” and it took them to Columbus Ave…we have no idea why that is the case. Our meeting space is Blackstone Community Center and it’s address is 50 W Brookline St. If you google it either google “blackstone community center” OR “Blackstone INNOVATION school” – that will get you to the correct spot!

Our community is full of some of the best people in the world! 

We had over 100 different people show up to our workdays. It was amazing to see our community rally together to make the move possible and equally awe inspiring to watch people step into new serving roles in order to make the gathering happen this past Sunday. I stood in the back of the auditorium and tears of joys streamed down my face while I thanked God for such an amazing community to call home. You all are amazing! If you call REUNION home and haven’t found a place to serve, we’d love to talk to you! 😉

Looking forward to many more Sundays together at Blackstone and excited to see what the future holds for our South End community!

Chris Hall

Lead Pastor