We are four weeks out from our move from IA to MN, settling back into another temporary yet more familiar place, seeing the past three years solidify in what was rather than what is. There’s a real sense now of life going on without us even as ours continue forward, and a knowing that despite a rich sense of community, we will ultimately fade into the rear view as well.
When I say, “Goodbye, Davenport,” who I’m really talking to is our church family at Sacred City Church in Davenport.
When Garth and I moved here, we prayed for community. We were committed to finding a church we could participate in, a place with needs to fill and people to love and preaching to edify us. Leaving one temporary place and moving to another, we regretted not investing fully in the community we had been part of before, and we didn’t want to make that mistake again. It was worth being as present wherever we were as possible, even if we knew we weren’t going to stay.
Nine months into living here, in the full swing of grad school life and just coming out of the newborn stage of parenthood, exhausted and lonely and lost, we saw the sign. The literal sign. I don’t know how it was there, because at the time, the tarp with the church name and meeting time was only up during the service on Sunday mornings, but that day it was out later somehow. Just for us, maybe. All I saw were the words “Sacred City,” but it struck me as a church name, so I noted it to look up online.
I typed it a Google search. And there was the church website. And there were the words “Acts 29,” a network we were familiar with and trusted. They met in the Davenport Junior Theater – an old church converted into a theater now sharing space with a new church congregation.
We didn’t simply come in, sit, and leave. We were greeted warmly and welcomed by a few people on our first day. Within a few weeks, I found myself nursing in the lobby with other young moms. Because it was the only available space, nobody entering the building or on their way to the restrooms seemed bothered by these moms with babies under nursing covers out in the open. I kept thinking, “this how it should be.”
We were invited to three Missional Communities – the church’s name for weekly small groups each with a distinct mission – and chose the one that met closest to us. We folded into a group at that time who were mostly comprised of people in their early-mid twenties like us. Some just buying houses, some with babies, a couple new to the area and a number who grew up there. It wasn’t perfect, but it made this place feel a little more like home.
We kept showing up. We became members. We gave what we could lacking time and resources. We joined prayer groups (accountability groups named “Fight Clubs”), attended play dates, made friends. We delved as deep into community as we could and didn’t look back.
A year later, we were shaken up as our Missional Community was split in half to merge with another. I was angry because we had just made friends and certainly it was too late to form new friendships with these new people. But within months, rather than finding our community waning, we found it even richer and deeper. Really, we had more friends now. Our roots went further in this place, and we knew it would be that much harder to dig them up to leave.
Quad Cities, Davenport, Sacred City, Midtown MC folks, we miss you.
Photos courtesy Natalie Schneckloth – midwesthomeschoolmom.com
Garth and I were talking about leaving the other night, in particular things we never did. Never went to a River Bandits Game, never toured the breweries, never took Clarabelle to the Putnam or John Deere museums. And he reminded me that he will have reasons to come back. That Palmer will have homecomings, he’ll be back for seminars for his continuing education credits. Every few years will bring an opportunity for us to return. We look forward to making these times little family vacations. To bring our family back for visits, attend church services as former members, intermittently see your babies grow up at impromptu play dates with ours.
It won’t be the same as raising our babies together. We won’t keep in touch with everyone we’d hope to. Our temporal minds are prone to forgetting, but know that we leave with the hope of remembering, the hope of meeting with you again as we are able. So stay in touch. Lord willing, we’ll be back.
Thank you for being a taste of God’s kingdom in a foreign land.