Morning came all too soon but leaping out of the Comfort Inn’s sheets was effortless because of the promise of an amazing day, and we needed to be North of the city by 8 am. An offering of an apple and a cup of yogurt was well accepted by the digestive juices of a grateful stomach; a sacrifice that was just enough to hold the grumblings until mid-morning fodder could be immolated to the “god” of the digestive system.
We stepped out into the fog; fog that was so thick we did the back float across the parking lot to our not so pimped out gray Charger. We jumped onto Interstate 5 and then North on 99, through Seattle and the North communities, at which time we knew nothing about, little did we know that we were driving past our future.
Where would we start this morning? Well, to answer that we must step back about four days. Thursday the previous I had an 11 am phone conversation appointment with Gary Irby, the Southern Baptist Church Planting lead guru in the Pacific Northwest. He and I had exchanged several emails but that Thursday we were going to talk about my upcoming vision trip and decide on a place to start. That morning Kristine awoke with the name Aurora on her lips. She asked me, “Is there an Aurora in Washington?” I wasn’t sure so we looked it up on Google Earth – a sweet program – and found out that there was an Aurora street and by the looks of the satellite map Google so generously offered it ran through a city north of Seattle called Shoreline. In her dream she was riding a broken bike down a steep hill towards water past older homes with wavy glass around an Aurora.
Gary Irby and I decided that we would start in Shoreline at a Starbucks on Aurora Avenue. So that foggy morning was where we got our first shot of Starbuck’s coffee, actually not the best coffee I have ever tasted, but we filled up, prayed and hit the streets. Gary showed us everything that he could. We drove through cities, suburbs, neighborhood, parks, and even a few parking lots. He knew the city pretty well and knew the right people in the communities and knew how many churches were present and how many were shutting down. He’s the one who told us that only 1% of Seattlites attend a church. That’s staggering news.
We drove through Shoreline, but it just didn’t feel right to us. Not sure why, but we weren’t drawn to it. So he took us through Seattle’s communities; like Ballard, Fremont, The U District, Capitol Hill, more coffee, Greenlake, Greenwood, Magnolia, Wallingford, Bell Town, Lake Union, Central District, International District, and more I am sure. Each of these communities have an extremely unique ethos that the residents are proud of and will fight for. It’s a wonderful collage of creative humanity that when seen from space screams out, “We are Seattle!”
Somewhere during our royal tour of the city we inconspicuously passed through the community of Queen Anne Hill. We drove north out of the Theater District just past the Space Needle and up Queen Anne Avenue. The car took a slight left slant in the road as we breached the crest of the hill and as time slowed down we felt our hearts jump with the calling of a city. As Shoreline didn’t feel right, Queen Anne Hill did feel right. Brandon and I looked at each other with that one look that people look when you just know something but can’t quite get the English language to discover the right words to fill the void.
Check out the entry at www.winona2seattle.wordpress.com for more information on Queen Anne.
That night after we dropped Gary off with many thank yous we found our Charger parked down the street from the Ale House on Queen Anne Avenue in Queen Anne Hill. The burger was fabulous at the Ale House, their chef put just the right amount of “medium” on the beef. We sat. Talked. Dreamed. About a church that would be more about their community, meeting in a home and caring for each other, and then coming together to worship on the weekend.
The waitress, Maria, asked us what we were doing in Seattle after she found out we haled from the Midwestern states. So we told her that we were on a journey to discover where we should plant a church. She said, “Hm, That’s cool, I guess. I don’t go to church, I’d like to take my seven year old daughter some day though.” Then she said, “Wouldn’t it be great if the church was about being a community, like in a house, and caring for those right around them?”
Brandon and I could just look at each other as she, a non-believer, explained the church that God was calling us to start.
In Queen Anne Hill? It felt so right, but in the back of my head was Kristine’s dream – and Aurora was in Shoreline.
We ended the night back at Tony Jandas in Renton, with whom we talked about Christ’s kingdom on earth and more specifically in Seattle deep into the night. This is a man who is pleading with God to save his city. How often do you get to be in the presence of a man who will shed tears for his city?
I fell asleep that night in a city that I felt was calling me, maybe even wooing me.