A Front Porch for All People Rev. John Edgar (Part 1)
Bishop Julius C. Trimble is the Resident Bishop of the Indiana Area of the United Methodist Church.
Bishop Trimble has the personal mission to encourage all people with the love of Jesus Christ to rise to their highest potential. It is his commitment to his personal mission that led Bishop Trimble to create the “To Be Encouraged” Podcast along with co-host Rev.Dr. Brad Miller.
Bishop Trimble says, “I am compelled by Jesus to share with you an encouraging word or two about Jesus, theology, the Bible, the pandemic, the environment, racism, voting rights, human sexuality, and the state of the United Methodist Church.”
To Be Encouraged with Bishop Julius C. Trimble is to be published weekly and is available at www.tobeencouraged.com and all the podcast directories.
John W. Edgar is the founding pastor emeritus of the United Methodist Church for All People, in Columbus Ohio as well as the founding executive director of Community Development for All People. He serves as adjunct faculty at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
He is the Author of the book discussed in Episode 051 "A Front Porch For All People"
This is Part one of a two part episode featuring a conversation with Rev. John Edgar about his book "A Front Porch for All People". Part 2 will be available at
Rev. John Edgar served as the executive Director of Community Development for All People (CD4AP) a from its inception in 2003 until he retired in June 2022. CD4AP is a multifaceted community development corporation with the mission of improving the quality of life with persons living on the Southside of Columbus, Ohio.
The Free Store, a flagship ministry of CD4AP, provides free clothing and household items to 20,000 persons each year. Over the past 17 years, CD4AP has developed $125 million worth of affordable housing. CD4AP operates a variety of health and wellness initiatives and is deeply involved in youth development programming. The All People’s Fresh Market provides fresh fruits and vegetables to more than 350 families every day and has grown to be one of the largest distribution site of free food in central Ohio. Much of this work improving social determinants of health is done in close collaboration with Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Rev. Edgar is the founding pastor of the United Methodist Church for All People that is closely affiliated with CD4AP. This remarkably diverse congregation is comprised primarily of low-income persons. An ordained pastor for 45 years, he has previously served as a district superintendent and dean of the cabinet in the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church.
In retirement, Rev. Edgar is serving as the half-time president of Columbus Housing Enterprise (CHE), a new non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve naturally occurring affordable housing. CHE is acquiring apartment complexes valued at $100 million which will be operated to ensure the rents remain affordable for decades to come.
Rev. Edgar has a Master of Divinity degree, cum laude from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s degree in sociology, magna cum laude from Miami University. He has been an adjunct faculty member at the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
Rev. John W. Edgar Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hello good people and welcome to to be encouraged the podcast with Bishop Julius C. Treble the Indiana air United Methodist Church, which is all about giving an encouraging word to an often discouraged world. We have a special guest with us today he's going to be talking about his new book and about his life and ministry. His name is Reverend John W. Edgar. He is the founding pastor, and the Pastor Emeritus of The United Methodist Church for all people, which is in Columbus, Ohio. He's also the founding executive director of community development for all people. And he's on the faculty at the adjunct faculty at Methodist theological school. In Ohio. We're going to hear a lot more in a few minutes about the community development of for all people, and what that's all about about his story. But we welcome John to the podcast and bishop would you give me would you help us welcome John to the podcast here today? Well, well, welcome to my friend, John Edgar and so pleased to connect with you. It's been a little while. But we're glad to have you on the podcast and look forward to ways in which you can help bless hundreds, if not 1000s of people as a result of this conversation.Rev. John Edgar:
I'm delighted bishop to be with you and Brad and looking forward to the conversation.Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
Indeed, it is a pleasure and a privilege, John and Bishop tremble to have this conversation about matters that matter. But we like to kind of most of the time to John, we like to start our conversations with matters of faith. And so like to hear about your faith journey, maybe a little bit how you came to Christ in the first place, and how your life led you eventually, to become the pastor of the church for all people. And what led out of that to the what you're involved with now.Rev. John Edgar:
Sure. I'm one of those folks who did not grow up in church, until the age of 12. I really had no formal religious experience. I grew up in a house where no one ever prayed and no one talked about the Bible or faith at the age of 12. For reasons I can't explain other than curiosity, or if I want to sound really spiritual, that somehow God's Spirit was moving in me when I didn't know it. But at age 12, I decided to try to figure out what church was about. And so I walked from my home to a large church that I knew was there, a little less than a mile away, and didn't know it at the time. But when I walked in the front door of the Kirkwood Methodist Church, in a suburb of St. Louis, I was entering the largest Methodist Church in the state of Missouri. And so that's where I got to start. I was a very shy child. And it is simply true that for about 10 months, I went every Sunday, and I sat in the second row from the front Bishop, nobody ever was in the front row. And I was the only person in the second row. And there was an older couple, the only folks in the third row is this gigantic sanctuary. And it's probably selective memory. But for that whole 10 months, the only people I ever remember speaking to were the old couple behind me. I always just lost in the crowd of all these folks. But to move my whole story along. I then went into junior high school and in the first week of junior high school, I met this boy named Billy McDougal. And we got to talk in and I and I said I go to the Kirkwood Methodist church, he said, That's my church too. And, and so anyway, this kid invited me to actually go to Sunday school and to youth group with him, and my life began to change. I became someone who was excited to be involved in confirmation class, I got a Bible and and all kinds of things and my family moved around a lot. And when I was entering 10th grade, my family moved to a small town in Ohio, Yellow Springs where Antioch college is located. And I started to go to the Methodist church there. And after two years, my family moved again. My father took a position as a professor in the University of New Orleans. I was 17 and I did not want to move anymore. And again to condense the story is I was searching for opportunities, my friends, and I thought it'd be good for me to move in with some of them. Their parents weren't so excited about having another 17 year old boy. So in desperation, I went to see the Methodist pastor in that little town, Jack Theodore, and I explained I wanted to stay and he had to know some widow that would love to have a teenager to rake leaves and do all that stuff. And when I was gonna call my parents and ask if they really were gonna let me do this, and they said, Yes, if I could find a place, so I moved in with Jack Theodore. So my goal of being an emancipated teenager, it's 17 turned into living in the parsonage, you know, and but at that point, I had no idea what a pastor did. And I watched Jack, over just four or five months initially. And I was just really impressed. I was serious about my faith. But I had no idea what pastors did, and being in a different family environment. So anyway, I turned 18 In February of 1971. And that same month, I stood before the official board of the Yellow Springs United Methodist Church and declared I wanted to be a pastor, I wanted to be just like Jack Theodore and, and that sense of call has expanded, you know, evolved, but never second guessed that. That's what I wanted to do. So that's how I got started. And then I had the good fortune to go to seminary at Harvard Divinity School. But during those three years, I worked in the inner city of Boston as an assistant pastor in a church that's called actually the Church of All Nations. And that helped shape my understanding of ministry, that can always be an intersection of congregational Care and Development with transformation and community development. And I've tried to live into that sense in various ways.Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
Basically, do you want to ask you to John, several things I did want to mention, before we do that he is the author of a new book called a front porch for all people. And we'll talk some more details about that during our conversation today, Bishop.Bishop Julius Trimble:
Yeah, that's kind of what I want to talk about. I've known I've known John Edgar, I want to say, a long time we haven't been, we're directly close. But I was in in Ohio for 20 years. Before I was elected a bishop. I was in East Ohio, he was in West Ohio. We both were district superintendents around the same time, I was the district superintendent from 96 to 2003. And then went back to a local church. Basically, I spent 20 years in Cleveland and bringing that our children who all were born in Illinois think that Cleveland is their home. And so but but so I've known John for a long time, he's the kind of person Brett, that, even if I didn't know him, real real closely, but if he got up to speak at a jurisdictional conference, or general conference, I pretty much said, Whatever he's gonna say, I'm pretty much gonna support John. Because he's, he started through ease, it started through and he's compassionate enough to, to want to see that see, see more inclusion, both in the church and, and transformation in the world. So this book really resonated with me also, Brad, and because I had a chance, I don't remember what year was actually but I think it was when the Council of Bishops were meeting in Columbus, I had a chance to go to the church for all people see, the free store actually experienced a worship edible worship experience that was invited back to speak at a at an event, I think in 2015. And so I saw that this was, I don't know, this was obviously it is it is it has matured since since I was there. So I was excited when I got a copy of the book in the mail and the letter and I've been out of town Brett, I would have sent you this introduction because this is a lot of I have a bishop plan. Oh, good. Okay, yeah, front porch for all people. But you begin even in the dedication to say, the reason you've written this book. And and I don't I'm somewhat paraphrase it. But this is mostly a quote, To All who yearn to dwell in an inclusive on an inclusive front porch, but also those who care enough to do something about creating elusive. And I think this speaks more this is not just about church, but really about community and even dare I say, beloved community, so you start off before the before people started reading the book to say, this book is dedicated to all who yearn what do you what can you say a word about that people yearning, people yearning. I grew up where we had front porches, especially when our family when we would go south, down south, we had a front porch and a back porch, with with with chairs that look like the chairs that are on the front of this front of his book. So and I grew up even I grew up in Chicago in the inner city, but we we had a front porch experience we had a neighborhood experience so so so say a word about that. What why you wrote the book and and do and is it your belief that people are yearning for this kind of experience?Rev. John Edgar:
Absolutely Bishop. I did write The book is, in part to tell the story of the 20 years that I and others have worked closely with folks in that inner city neighborhood called the south side of Columbus, to build an inclusive community, again, this intersection of congregational development and community development. For me, what I have tried to communicate when I say I wrote it for folks that yearn for that kind of inclusive community, and actually care enough about it, to then do something. Almost all of my ministry had been spent in, in an urban neighborhoods, transitional neighborhoods, churches with a mixture of white and black folks. And, and what we're doing on the south side is, we are finding ways to bring people together initially, with real simple direct service programs, we, we operate a free store, which is pretty much what the name suggests the store where everything is free, and anybody can come and shop, no eligibility requirements. We have a large fresh market where 30,000 folks receive healthy fruits and vegetables to eat healthier, and we develop housing. But what I'm trying to get at in the book, is the simple notion that there are a few key things we can choose to do, that will enable us to transcend the things that often separate us in our society now, of race and wealth and age and, and even, you know, sexual identity and all kinds of other things. We can create environments in which we bring people together, have positive experiences. And then out of that experience, we can draw people to worship, but also into transformed ways of living together. Part of what we have done is we've built over $100 million worth of affordable housing. And that means this neighborhood where we've been able to remove almost all the Blight can also stay an opportunity rich community where many people even low income people can still have a place to call home, as the blight and the negative influences go look go away. And it may be one other thing. You know, Bishop just picking up on what you said, I chose the title of a front porch, because just as you said, Bishop front porches, in many places, and certainly urban neighborhoods are that gathering point, I remember was actually Bishop Palmer, the bishop in the West Ohio area, who made an observation he said, you know, there was a day when everybody gathered on the front porch. And then he was being playful. But then he said, you know, people got more money, they moved to the suburbs, and now they're hanging out on the back porch with a privacy fence to keep everybody else away, you know, but on the front porch is where we meet our neighbors, where we can build relationships that bridge differences, and I think that is to pick up on your podcast title. That's how we can become encouraged. There are discouraging things in our world. There are all kinds of social and racial inequities, those are real and should never be discounted, but they don't define the the aspiration of the human spirit. You know, we long for community. And we can do really simple things that draw different people together, then we can learn and grow and worship and pray together. And, you know, the church that I had the privilege of leading till I retired this past summer is in many ways the most diversion I Methodist Church in the country, at least that intersection of race and social class so that the church is about half white, half black, just like the neighborhood. Two thirds of the people who are members of the church have income below the poverty level. And we're all in there together. And there is an energy and joy that createsBishop Julius Trimble:
you get any rich folks. So quiet millionaires, it doesn't hurt if you got a few.Rev. John Edgar:
There are a couple of those. As we sometimes talk about in our church, you know, we pay all of our apportionments you know, we've never had financial trouble. And but the secret in that video I keep this real brief is that we have so many low income people who choose to give sacrificially that true that widow's mite. Yeah. And that, that somewhere between inspires or shames the middle class folks like myself to think oh my goodness, if if that person is willing, when it is true, we had a missionary come from North Katanga conference. And at the end, a woman that I know lives on Social Security, gave $100 Put it in my hand say we'll give it to those folks and It's a woman doesn't even have a bank account. But you know, she had that money at the end of the month. And, and I've retold that story again to inspire or shame the rest of us into realizing we live inside a divine economy of abundance, and we share what we have it multiplies.Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
Yeah, there's a I was really interested to John and they you got to some terms you use in your book that I think are important, we give a little definition to a little context to what you're talking about, what are those? You've touched on? What I'm already a front porch? And May we'll dig a little deeper on that. But I'm interested in your term, sustainable mixed income community. And I love that terminology. But help, would you unpack that for us to help us understand context of what is what you found there, and what the vision is to go to?Rev. John Edgar:
Sure. So is I mentioned just in passing, you know, I've been a pastor for 45 years, and all of my time in the local church was spent in what often is referred to as transitional neighborhoods. And there was, these are neighborhoods where there was a mixture of white and black folks, but largely, one group was moving in and another group was moving out. And a lot of that had to do with the economics of what was going on at the time. And so you know, often wealthier people were moving away, people with less income, were moving into neighborhoods. And that was dynamic. But the point I'm getting at is that was not sustainable. In other words, you could take a snapshot and say, Wow, this is an amazingly diverse neighborhood today. But it wasn't that way, 10 years before, and you go 10 years forward. And it's, and it's flipped one way or the other, either disinvestment or gentrification, and so on this, what we're doing on the south side, is what we're doing real simple things as a church, community direct services worshiping together hanging out on a front porch, we also are trying to look at some of those social forces. And the reason we got involved in developing housing initially was in a neighborhood that was filled with vacant blighted properties, it was really tough, we had streets where a third of the places had been abandoned. But we form partnerships, I won't, in this moment, get into that. But with groups like a large pediatric hospital down the street, and in a few years, we were able to buy up a lot of that property, fix it up, and the Blight went away. And it looked really great until we realize that when the Blight was gone, there were all these social pressures for more wealthy people to move in. And the lower income people that we cared so much about, we're at risk of being pushed away. So we pivoted, and for the better part of the last decade, we decided with the hospital to become landlords at scale ourselves, to ensure that we could make certain that the rents stayed affordable. And so part of talking about it being a sustainable, inclusive community is creating enough diversity in the housing that's available, so that people all across the income spectrum, can can move in, whether it's an apartment or a house, whether it's a rent renting, or oni. So that's one part of it. But then, if I'm not taking too long in this moment, one of the other things that we learned along the way is that simply throwing people together who are different doesn't ensure that we build an inclusive or Bishop, I think you were referring to a beloved community. In fact, there's a lot of sociological research that suggests that if you just throw very diverse people together, they scare each other, and everybody retreats to their own corner, and you actually accelerate social alienation. However, there is a secret sauce in this, then if you can create settings where people come together, who are different, but have positive experiences, then all of a sudden, we have the opportunity to to bridge those differences and created a neighborhood that's inclusive and sustainable. And so part of us doing that was trying to have the church be one of those places where everybody comes together. And there's another term I use in the book called A third place that I borrowed from a renowned sociologist. It's this notion of the first place in your life is where you live. Second place is where you go to work. But we all have third places where we hang out when we're not at work or at home.Bishop Julius Trimble:
And Starbucks calls itselfRev. John Edgar:
Yeah, yes. And if we can make those be places that draw diverse folks, and so that's why we got involved in lunch, social enterprises, we operate a Community Bike Shop that brings different kinds of people together. We take donated bicycles and we refurbish them and their primary transportation for low income people. But we also are close to the wealthiest census track in the city. And a lot of people bike recreationally, you know, and have these little expensive bikes and we bring those folks together, we actually operate an art gallery that that celebrates the art of people in the neighborhood, especially low income folks. And just last week, we opened a coffee shop, you know, we're gonna give Starbucks some competition, you know, and so, so always to bring these folks together. And then in the midst of that, maybe we'll get into it more later. What does it mean to then offer Christ in a way that can connect in the settings, which might seem secular, but where we can help people in another phrase, we talk a lot about how do we help people touch God's grace?Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
Bishop, that sounds pretty awesome, doesn't it? But my question to you Bishop, in reflecting with John is, is this repeatable? Is this something that can be done in other places? It sounds great, but it also sounds extremely difficult to pull off for many reasons. But Bishop, your thoughts about how this can be duplicatable?Bishop Julius Trimble:
Well, I think it's, I see pieces of this happening in Indiana and other places, and even places, pieces of it in places where I've served as well. In fact, the book convinces convinces me that it is not only repeatable, because of the essential principles that John talks about, which kind of carry throughout the book. One, the glass is half full. Hospitality is radical. And Grace is touchable as he just made reference to. So I think, I think it's, I think it's repeatable, because what I really like about John's book, and, and his approach over a long period of time, is that a lot of this is rooted in the Bible, and an understanding of the Bible, that the Bible is more than just important to you, John, I don't want to put words in your mouth. But based on me reading that reading this, the Bible is more than important. You say it reveals God's nature and intentions. And one of those things that you clearly write significant about is this notion of abundance. Now, abundance is different. I don't read in here, you're not preaching up gospel, a prosperity gospel. But when you when you wait, but when you point to the feeding of the 5000 are God's faithfulness. You're saying, Hey, listen from creation, from Genesis to Revelation, you know, so the ethic, the essential principles, convinced me that this is this is repeatable, and it would be different in different contexts. Certainly, but but same word about those principles. The glass is half full. Hospitality is radical, I really want to, but we could do a whole show on that. And Grace is touchable. And I know, both of both, Brad and I wish we could, we'd love to do just a whole whole program. And we maybe we should, on this notion of grace, because I've had a lot of conversation with people, Protestant and Catholic and those who are non Christian, around what is this understanding that particularly you Methodist, you throw it around a lot, but you don't want to hang hanging? really explain what do you mean by grace, and you say, grace is touchable?Rev. John Edgar:
Yeah. So glad to respond, maybe give me a couple minutes, I'll do two parts of that. So So in terms of the glass is half full first. So we launched in 1999, while I was still a district superintendent, this real simple program called a free store and, and Bishop I originally did it as a DS, trying to find a point of local mission for the seven eight churches that were in the district. And so we invited people to bring in gently used clothing and household items, we rented a storefront on the south side. And then we just gave things away and invited people to come and shop. And then we tried, with some success, to build relationships of mutuality, as I was talking about. But what happened that really caught me by surprise, the ship was a whole lot more people came to shop than we ever imagined. There are about 20,000 folks a year that come through this store now. And maybe I shouldn't have been surprised that people would flock to a store where everything was free, and there were no eligibility requirements. But the thing that surprised us even more was we never ran out of good things to give away. We've done it for 25 years, it's open five days a week. And every day we start the racks are filled to overflowing with clothing and other household items. In fact, the biggest problem in the free store is not to be buried under the flooded donations that come in the back door but but to move the story along and pick up on some of what you just said before Bishop so after a while, we started wondering why don't we run out of good stuff, you know, and for a little bit, I thought well You know, maybe it's just coincidence. And then Bishop has maybe you can appreciate both as a DS in your current role. For a brief moment, I wondered whether all the churches kept bringing things because we had pastors that wanted better appointments. And they thought if they you were descended the rain superintendent, and clear out their claws and said, I go talk to the bishop and they get a better church. But donations went up when they stopped being a DS rather than going down. So that would mean so when, when most Christian folks and I confess I'm in the group, when we can't figure it out on our own, sooner or later, we are going to pick up the Bible, you know, we're gonna try to sort this thing out. And you nailed it, Bishop, from the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible's really clear, God made it all God made it good, God made it abundant. There is more than enough for every good purpose, as long as we share what God has given to us and and it is the story of Jesus feeding the multitudes and I think shows that it is I often talk about, it's the only miracle in all four Gospels and I do not think that's a coincidence, you know that. But when you're in the Virgin from the Gospel of John, you know, Jesus takes the one child's lunch five have a little loaves and two fish and and feeds everybody. And Bishop, you might recall a grant that in that story in John six, it says that Simon Peter's brother, Andrew brings the kids lunch gives it to Jesus, and immediately denigrates the gift. I mean, it's in there literally, in chapter six, it says to Jesus, but what good is it anyway, when there are so many? So in a discouraging world, even in that moment, Andrew is saying, Yeah, here it is, but it's not worth much. And in that moment, vision, Jesus says, oh, to the whole crowd at that exact moment, he says, oh, sit down, as if he's just thoroughly disgusted, that they don't get it. And then you know, it makes the disciples you know, share the elements, you know, bless his breaks the bread and shares it and, and it multiplies. And, and I am convinced that the free store for us is the living proof of that divine reality that you did. When we take what we have, no matter how meager it seems God is going to multiply it. And Bishop You're so right. I am not preaching a prosperity gospel. I mean, the prosperity gospel gets worse. And I think it's normally close to at its worst, is do free things for Jesus and you get a Cadillac. And that'sRev. Dr. Brad Miller:
one of the things that one of the things that I love about what you share here, and I'll just put it in two words. So those two words are what if? And the what if is that, you know, you had your aha moment, you've been preaching to some sort of a church event of some sort? What if the generosity is true? What if this abundance thing is true? What if the Gospel is true? What if, and you can be reminded of Acts chapter two where it talks about, you know, people gave all things to all people to serve, you know, and they believed and so on. And the Lord added to the number every day to their number. So that would be if that Lord added one day, one person a day, that'd be every church would have 365 new people every year at least. Right? So I love that. So basically, what what if, what if the church really was like the Bible says, John, what do you think here? What if?Bishop Julius Trimble:
Well, I think I think we would experience more of the second part of our mission statement as United Methodist. And John has talks about this quite a bit in here. And that is transformation of the world. In fact, I think we, we should start a mission statement, to transform the world by making disciples of Jesus Christ is something that people want to some people want to help people get ready for heaven. But people are experiencing so much hail here on Earth, that they don't experience transformation. But But John, do you say something? I'm gonna push this a little bit? Jesus comes to us, again, from John, full of grace and truth, but grace and be touched. And you talk about that, and stories from multiple stories from the Freestore. But But what what how can grace be touched? Right? Yeah. Thanks forRev. John Edgar:
bringing us back to that. So. So for your podcast, Brad, this will be the little bit of ancient Greek and I keep it real brief. Okay. Yep. Yeah, the New Testament, of course, was not written in English. The it is not King James that wrote the original Bible. It was in Greek, and in grace is the English translation of this word from ancient Greek Karis, and in 2000 years ago, in biblical times, Kara's simply meant a gift. So if you're going to somebody's birthday party in Nazareth, 2000 years ago, you'd bring a birthday Karis with you. And you know, if you wanted to show appreciation to somebody, you might bring them a present like Karis, a gift, but the early church in the very beginning They took that word and that it sort of injected a richer meaning. And the early church began to restrict the use of the word Karass. To mean any gift from God. And so when we talk about Amazing Grace, How Sweet the Sound and all the rest of that grace is a translation of a word, from the original Bible, that means a gift from God. And as soon as we keep that in focus, and all of a sudden, it gets fascinating to not only think but to talk and quite frankly, be very, in this sense, evangelical, I mean, you know, inviting people in around the fact you can touch grace. And so, for example, in that free store, and by the way, there are now about 8200, free stores around the country, all based on this model. Bishop, including one is really outstanding in Canton, Ohio, but but it so when people come and shop at the Free Store, if you think about it, say there's a mom that comes in and she's shopping, and she was picking up some jeans for her daughter. And when she does that she's touching a free gift offered in the name of Christ through this church, she is touching grace, and then if she goes in shops for other things, and then that we put all those donations in a bag, and then she walks out of our free store carrying grace with her. And if you push it just a little further, she goes home, you know, and, and I, at least in my imagination, let's say our daughter comes home from school, and the mom shows the things she got from the free store. And if that girl is anything like my granddaughters that they get clothing that they really like, the next morning, that girl got up, put on those jeans, and maybe a blouse, and that girl clothed herself literally in grace and free gifts from God. And she wasBishop Julius Trimble:
free, right now. Yeah.Rev. John Edgar:
And so what we're contending, Bishop is that, it when we really think about it, if you trace it back just a little bit, almost everything that we receive is a gift from God. And so like we run this fresh market in youth, like in 30, plus 1000 people shop there, but they're picking up grace, you know, they're, you know, they're taking this healthy produce home, and they're preparing it. And then again, if you just we use our imagination a little bit, let's say there's a grandmother that came to shop and they and she gets everybody at the dinner table that night and is using the fruits and vegetables. And, and the and in my own imagination. This is a good United Methodist Grandma, you know, who insists that one of the kids say, a blessing and what she says to their family that was we're gonna say grace before we eat, right? That's what she's gonna say, yes, because she's gonna thank for these free gifts, and then they're gonna eat that food, they're gonna literally taste God's grace, that that's free fruits, vegetables, and they'll consume and it'll be within them. But if you allow me to go one step further Bishop with this. And this is the most United Methodist I'm going to be I mean, I am a good Methodist all the way through. And now, but, but if there's anything distinctive in our theology, you know, as Wesleyan folks it is this understanding of grace. And just real quick, Bishop. And I talked a lot more about this in a book that John Wesley talked about grace, a couple of levels, you talked about a prevenient grace, which is the grace that surrounds you before you know what God's up to. And so sure, we literally have 1000s of people on the south side that are clothed in God's grace, and it's prevenient grace. So that means they really don't necessarily get it. But we run church services every day before we open the free store. And we teach our volunteers and others, these key concepts. In fact, I also get that, you know, during the 20 years, I was the pastor there, there are more folks on the south side of Columbus didn't know a few words of Greek than anywhere else in America. Because we really talked to people about when you go shop, you're gonna touch grace. And, and so, you know, for John Wesley, and I'll finish this up. And it was a then talked about going for provine grace to justifying grace, it's when you wake up to what God is doing. And that's what we discover. And that's how the church has been built. People coming to appreciate that what they're touching is God's grace. And then we invite those people into the full life, that church and then the last part of what Wesley said is, you know, when you come to know that it's all a free gift that God loves you just the way you are. But God is not finished with you yet. And so Wesley talked about sanctifying grace, how we live into that how we get up onto that front porch, and well they're together and so they're at our best, that's where we're inviting people to do, including a mother that comes to shop at the free store one day and then gets it and ingratitude BRINGS CLOTHING that never toys her children have outgrown to give it for itself. So yeah, we do think Grace isRev. Dr. Brad Miller:
Bishop, we've got some biblical exegesis here, we've got some, we got seminary Greek, we got some Western theology, we got it all going on here. But let's take a bowl. But if you don't mind, let's put in mind that pastor of that church in Ohio or Indiana or Colorado or in India or wherever they're listening to us today. And maybe that's a baby that layperson is listed just in foot lay person who's saying, okay, Bishop, Pastor, John, you've got these great things going on. We also got all this nonsense about the division of the church and all this type of thing, too. But what if we really want to get about the business of doing this? We got financial problems, we got people who are mad about this, and that we've got, you know, volunteer issues, we're at aging congregation, we got all this needs, we don't have the resources. How do we implement some of this? And I just like to hear from both of you about this.Bishop Julius Trimble:
Right? Let me answer first. And I'm gonna use John Eric are the answer it because I've read it read enough for the book. Well, and I, my background, I grew up, I didn't go directly to seminary, I came out of college with a degree in sociology worked in social work, and community organizing. So John McKnight, whom you quoted significantly, and you say that this is something I think we need to invite people, Brett to consider asset based approaches to ministry as well as asset basis, asset based approach to building community. So I wasn't successful with this. But I tried as a superintendent, as a pastor to say, folks, you know, we worship a God of abundance. And you, you don't have any kids, right? If I step outside of the church and throw a rock, I'm gonna hit the elementary school, which is right across the street. So So sometimes we don't see the assets that we have we what we see is a crumbling building, that we're trying to keep propped up, as opposed to see, and even if it's a handful of people that can get excited about starting a free store. And we've seen this happen. I've seen this in some of the some of the rural churches here in Indiana, when they've caught a vision of a mission, something they can get excited about all of a sudden, it's not about whether we can pay our conference tie. But whether we can really connect with the community. It doesn't always happened. No. But I think I think the persons in this book will help anyone who really wants to take a look at. And John can help better explain this, the whole notion of asset based approaches to ministry, as opposed to starting with we have we have a negative amount in our checking account. Now there are some realities. You may be you maybe you can't afford a full time pastor. But there were churches, we there are churches that without pastors and ministry that don't need a full time pass. Yeah.Rev. John Edgar:
Very well said, Bishop. Yeah. And I would just piggyback on that, in that. I do think it is when we get this notion that we live inside of divine economy of abundance, not scarcity. And that scarcity is really a false construct. It's driven by our own sense of fear, or that discouragement and where we feel there's not enough. But in reality, not only can we never outgive God, but we can, we can start or renew a ministry, simply by choosing to invest what is available to us. I talked a lot about start small, but start. And in some of it is that what do we do that is energizing for us rather than draining. And so I, one of the illustrations I use, and I try to keep this brief, but but we have a lot of churches that for all, all kinds of good reasons will decide, hey, we're going to try to feed hungry people in our community. So they'll do a community mediate meal, maybe they do it once a week or once a month. But what often will happen is that folks will then do that in a way where people get tired out because you know that the classic model is will the people, the poor people will be invited into the church fellowship hall, and the church members set it up ahead of time the church members prepare the food, the church members kind of hide out in the kitchen. And I have sometimes kid that, especially in changing neighborhoods, that those service pastor windows, were simply there to protect the Congregation for the people they wanted to help. And then after those folks have been served, then the church members may it's leftover food they'll eat but they'll sit at a table all by themselves, and then they have to clean up afterwards. And I'm trying to say, i i The older I've gotten, the more convinced I am to never denigrate anything anyone does when they're trying to do good, but what I am saying is that's a pretty exhausting way to try to do a ministry. But if you flip the script just little bit, and realize that everybody that comes to eat is somebody that is worth getting to know and somebody that could help, then all of a sudden, if we use that meal, and instead of the people hiding in the kitchen, but we just invite people who come one week to come back early and set up the chairs. So next week, people can help prepare and serve food. And then everybody sits together at that table, you know, and shares the meal. And then when it's over, people stay and clean up, and we depart. And we're energized, because we're getting to know each other, you know, then we're dwelling on this front porch. And i i One level, I realize what I'm saying is very simple, but it's mostly, in other words, it's possible to take something as basic as that. And it doesn't require any more labor. In fact, it's a little less labor, but it can be renewing as we go. The other thing and this notion of glass is half full, not half empty. It's It's the belief that we should always plan ministry in the moment, using the resources that are currently available. And believing that a small success is what generates the enthusiasm attracts new partners. And things expand gradually, over time.Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
We're good. But what things we like to do, John is to, when we kind of start to wrap up our conversations is really find out what is encouraging, you certainly given us a lot of encouraging news about the church for all people and what they've done, and how that can be implemented in other places. But it's not to give you a moment to share anything that you would see as an encouraging word for the church as a whole, and for churches that are in in these positions. And also give us some details how people can get your book and like find out more about you.Rev. John Edgar:
Sure. Well, first part of it, one of the things that I find very encouraging, is that almost all the people that I interact with, you know, across this wide economic and racial span, people do yearn for community we do you know, and, and, and in this world with discouragement, it is so frustrating, you know what, and so whenever folks begin to flip the switch, and you know, and just again, as your whole podcast Bishop is intended to do to offer an encouraging word, to say, look, we can, it may seem small, but we can do something positive. And we will be blessed by that ourselves, that it renews enthusiasm. And that's what I see, quite frankly, all the time, are people who are feeling blessed to be in settings, where they are doing something simple to help someone else touch grace, and then just pointing to that, and celebrating it. So so that's one of the things I see. Another way is way of talking about it is early on, as we were first getting started my colleague, a lay person, but who was our late Pastor dayanita. Harris, pointed out to me, he said, John, if you notice how people are starting to talk about what we're up to, and in what she was saying was, which is true. There'll be a number of people in the neighborhood who knows what we're doing and and they would talk about us by saying, you know, the church at that corner the church that does what a church is supposed to do. So we can be encouraged because people do notice what we're doing or what we're not doing, you know, for for that matter. And so, it does does grow. Then one last way of talking about it, I I may have mentioned real briefly Bishop but in downtown canton in the East Ohio conference, that large church this is now been renamed as Crossroads United Methodist, I don't remember its historic name. It was a church that declined with the decline in that part of the Rust Belt. But there's a fairly new pastor there has been about four or five years Don Ackerman had been a seminary student who was in and out of our free store and a lot of things and in a very brief period of time, it's amazing what he has done he created an organization called Canton for all people, you know, and, and opened a free store to build community and that church and just four or five years now is the point of doing millions of dollars worth of housing, they've taken over Bishop building about 11,000 square feet and turning it into a grocery store and a sliding scale and a health clinic and, and all I'm trying to say is that that when people catch the spirit, you know and decide they really want to try it's amazing how quickly some thingsRev. Dr. Brad Miller:
can develop. And one of the whether to one of the tools that people could use to catch the spirit is your is your book, and we could tell these stories all day long. I want to I want to talk to you basically when I hear these stories all day long, but tell us how folk the name of the book is our front porch for all people, tell us how people can get a hold of your book. Sure,Rev. John Edgar:
what a surprise, I actually have a copy here. But there are many ways to get the book, if you want, you can simply order it online from Amazon or binds Barnes and Noble. And that's a good way you can do that as a book that will be mailed to you. Or you can download it as an ebook. If you and I think through those sources is list price is $23. And I think you can get a couple of dollars knocked off. If you want, you can get it cheaper than that by going to a website that I created, you know, for the book that simply called front porch book.com. And, you know, and I in the book there, I think is for $15. And so there are different ways to do that. And then and then I would also say without, you know, and I because I appreciate the forum that you both myself now in retirement, other folks in church, the people, church while people are available to come and meet with folks, you know, we we've helped to foster, I'd say free stores in multiple places and cities. We've had wonderful partnerships, I was up in Canton, Ohio. And you know, it's not that far from Columbus, Ohio to Indianapolis, you know, so if there were times inRev. Dr. Brad Miller:
which people were mentioned, as well as other points, we go to theRev. John Edgar:
whole world, John, wow, there you go.Rev. Dr. Brad Miller:
And so we will put links to your book and your website, at our website, which is to be encouraged.com. Bishop, we'll give you the last word about that give John a good word of thanks. HereBishop Julius Trimble:
was Thank Thank you, brother, John, for, for your witness, and for telling the story of a front porch for all people. There's another John, famous John that really has been kind of a role model late later in my life. And that's the late John Lewis. And he said, he said something very, the late Congressman John Lewis, who people know know them for the, quote, good trouble. But he said something very similar to what you say at the end of the book. He said, Everybody can do something. And sometimes it may seem like a small thing. But if we just start, everyone can do something. For just for just says, the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many are one body, so it is with Christ. For in this spirit, we are all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves are free. And we were made to drink of one Spirit. And deep hospitality is radical. The lectionary texts for today is really the 23rd Psalm. And I think we need to be reminded that the Lord is a shepherd and we need not fear about not having enough because God is a God of provision. We give thanks to God for all of the times that the Good Shepherd is LED and guided us and fed us and provided for us what is God calling you? What is God calling me? What is God calling us to do? And response to God's powerful grace?