My time with Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Dallas, Texas has been a whirlwind so far. Their congregation has connections to dozens of community organizations and collaborates with them regularly. I’ve spent my first two days here talking with tons of congregants about my work, sharing meals with inspiring community members, driving around Dallas to get my bearings, learning about Coworking, and exploring the ways that churches today can uniquely adapt to best support their local community (while also increasing their income to keep the lights on). It’s been a busy 48 hours so far and the conversations have been intense and refreshing.
Just a few hours after arriving to Texas I was taken to a Coworking space downtown, in Deep Ellum, called Common Desk. The pastor here at CCC used to work with the owners at a previous Coworking space and he still joins them for a weekly Wine Down Wednesday event that aims to deepen community and connect local professionals – all over a glass of wine (or water, if you prefer).
A group of around 15 of us gathered for the event in a small conference room in the center of the building. Beverages were served (Rule #1: You never serve yourself – practice hospitality and always serve one another) and a question was asked to spark discussion (Rule #2: Everyone participates). This weeks question was something to the effect of What is one character trait that has gotten you where you are in life?
One by one folks answered the question and we toasted to the aspects of their character that makes them who they are today.
“I’ve always been persistent; I never give up.” “To persistence!” *clink*
“I own my femininity in a male-dominated profession.” “To owning yourself!” *clink*
“I’m dedicated to my job and my customers. If I’m working with you, it’s because I believe in you.” “To dedication!” *clink*
And on it went, toasting one another and celebrating our unique strengths.
Finally, it was my turn.
I gave the group a quick introduction to my work with the church, specially focused on holistic refugee integration in the global church, and then began.
I think the character trait that has most helped me get where I am today is authenticity. I grew up in a small town where I felt like I couldn’t always be fully myself, and because of that I now strive to cultivate authenticity in my own life and create a space for others to do the same. When you show people your most authentic self, you give them permission to respond in kind, and that’s where amazing connections happen. Especially in my work with refugee resettlement, cultivating an atmosphere of authenticity is key.
I only spoke for a minute or two but having a safe space to share that in felt incredible. The people around the table were so supportive and encouraging about my work and me – they asked questions when we were finished (Rule #3: Everyone helps clean up) and cheered me on for my upcoming move to Greece.
Common Desk has curated a truly unique environment for professionals in the Dallas area to gather and connect in. People at the meeting came from a variety of backgrounds – some owned their own media companies, others were freelance journalists, one had just started a consulting firm, and a few worked for large corporations. All of us were looking for something more though, networking with a purpose that helped facilitate deep and meaningful connections.
Texas, you’re full of surprises. I can’t wait to see what the rest of my time here brings!