Holly Little helped found Awake, is on the Leadership Team, and taught as an instructor in our summer reading program. Holly moved to Berwyn from Nevada as a young adult and has a background in after school programs and childcare.
A little over two years ago we started a “coffee committee” here at Unity to help imagine a coffee shop in Berwyn. Since coffee is 57% of the makeup of my personality, I joined this committee quite willingly. Even though I was not and probably never will be a morning person, I dragged myself here every other Tuesday morning for meetings. Our numbers grew and shrank and our focus shifted but the Spirit of God was present at each meeting. This was a particularly difficult season in my life and these meetings became a place of solace and healing for me. I cherished these times of creativity and imagination. I looked forward to spending time with the brilliant people on our team.
Around the time the coffee committee officially became Awake, we held a meeting at my house. Our committee was joined by church council to talk about our mission and answer some questions that ultimately helped Awake become an affiliated mission community of Unity Lutheran Church. I remember this meeting well because it was filled with both laughter and tears. Stories were shared from the last days of Berwyn United and First Lutheran churches and from the first days of Unity. Members from each congregation expressed feelings of sadness and frustration, joy and excitement, worry and fear, and loss and acceptance. From the honest sharing of these feelings came healing and further clarity of what Awake’s mission should be.
Since our official launch this spring, countless more stories like these have unfolded. I have watched healing take place in many ways. Different cultures have had a chance to be shared and better understood in our Spanish and Tango classes. Justice and leadership have taken place as youth from the community were given meaningful jobs in our summer tutoring program. Empowering skills have been learned in sewing and cooking classes. Simple fun has been had in workshops like Saturday’s Jam Awards. We truly are rising up to be Awake in our community.
This is why Awake matters to me. Through advocacy for justice, leadership opportunities, and good relationships, God is using Awake to heal us personally and as a community. One of the most amazing parts of this is that we, as Unity Lutheran Church, are helping to make this possible. I look around the room and see so many of you who have poured out your time, talent, and resources to this mission. Awake is not simply a program of the church. We the church are Awake.