(An update blog by Jordan Kelly)
Every Sunday afternoon the JUSTembrace house opens up their yard and house for the community to come and hang out. These “open houses” usually consist of food, games, and music, with the house becoming a place full of activity and life. People can be found in the yard playing bags, croquet, mingling, playing checkers inside the house, or just sitting back and relaxing.
My favorite aspect of these open houses is the community that has formed. Both people from the neighborhood and outsiders have become regulars, forming relationships that would not have happened if it were not for JUSTembrace opening its doors on a weekly basis. As a former JUSTembrace intern, many of my closest relationships in the Uptown community have stemmed from Sundays at the JUSTembrace house.
It is always interesting to consider how outsiders look at our Open House events when they walk by. It must look out of the ordinary to see such a diverse group of people interacting with each other. With Uptown being so diverse and having a strong gentrification movement that is pressuring low income people out, a community like the one that has formed at Open House goes against the grain of people’s expectations and imagination.
While I love Open House, my favorite part about Sundays at JUSTembrace comes right afterwards, when I have the chance to lead the small group Bible study in an evening prayer liturgy called Vespers. Though it is usually a smaller group that sticks around for vespers, it is in my mind one of the best ways to process together the miracles we see and experience during Open House.