November 2022 – Rev. Matthew Kern

Death, it seems, is fertile ground for new life.

This observation doesn’t come from abstract thought but is something I happen to witness on a near-daily basis in my line of work. As a hospice chaplain I am welcomed into a sacred yet admittedly particular space in the lives of others – namely, at the end of life. I join patients and their loved ones in the final stretch of life, journeying with them from the familiarity of this life to the mystery and promise that lie beyond it. However, what seems like a definitive end seems to sometimes also serve as the genesis of something new in the making. This looks like…

  • a patient with a terminal diagnosis engaging in a meaningful life review and, in the process, engage themselves in a way never done before; 
  • family members finding new ways to organize and rally themselves for a new reality moving forward without their departing loved one;
  • the blossoming of a peace, serenity, and/or contentment in the one passing away that, even if for the last season of life, is life-giving in itself.

While I will confess my surprise to see so many beginnings showing up in the midst of loss, I must also admit I really shouldn’t be that surprised at all. This rhythm of gaining in losing, receiving in letting go, yes even life coming forth from death is what Jesus called to our attention – not as new ‘rules’ to live by but an invitation to enter into the flow of the Universe that is always giving new life.  

Crave works in the midst of the many forms of death that exist in our society. For those whose hope seems to have died, whose windows of opportunity seem to have passed away, whose trust in the prospect of a better future has long been buried six feet down, I see Crave and its leaders serving as agents of that new life that springs forth in the midst of so much loss. It is you, Crave, that are harbingers of that something new coming forth from the loss of the old. I can say this so confidently because I lived it through Crave itself. 

At a time of very real loss and personal deaths of sorts, Crave invited me to experience something new in the midst of what was falling away from my own life.  Joining the first Sanford cohort, I was given the opportunity to find new meaning out of old broken dreams, community out of places of solitude, and in a proverbial yet very real way, life out of death.

Death is an end, no doubt…but do not ever forget it also serves as rich soil for new things to spring forth. Continue to be that new thing in this world, Crave.

 

Rev. Matthew Kern

Crave Sanford I


February 2021 – Terri Hartman

How Crave Has Changed the Direction of My Life

I have been a book lover for as long as I can remember. Promoting literacy has always been a passion of mine. In August of 2016 I installed a Little Free Library (littlefreelibrary.org) in my front yard. It brought me such pleasure to share books with the neighborhood and to become more acquainted with my neighbors. I began having little contests for the kids in the neighborhood and giving out books on Halloween. It was a wonderful experience!

 

I soon wanted to do more, and I began to research bookmobiles and book purchasing. My hope was to have a bookmobile that could reach areas not close to the public libraries. I also wanted to teach reading to adults so they could, in turn, read with their children. I knew Karen Roby from when she managed a local bookstore. I wanted to pick her brain about book purchasing and running a bookstore. We met for dinner and, after hearing my idea, she told me about Crave.

In August 2019 I joined Crave as a leader. I met the other leaders and was amazed at the passion and energy everyone had. The overall feeling was one of giving and love and I felt at home. One leader who had a big impact on me was Marquis McKenzie. After one conversation with him, my view of the world completely changed. I went from thinking I knew how the world worked to realizing I had seen everything through my own white-colored glasses. He blew me away and inspired me in so many ways. He literally made me want to be a better person, and made me want to share that inspiration with others like me.

As my year as a Crave leader continued, I realized that a bookmobile was not the path I was meant to take. Instead, I applied for, and was accepted to, Adler University’s master’s degree program in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. I want to find a way to help non-profits run smoothly and efficiently, and to be more inclusive. Adler University’s mission is to graduate socially responsible practitioners, engage communities, and advance social justice. I am already applying what I’m learning in my current role as Crave’s Alumni Development Chair.

Crave led me on a path I had never thought or dreamed of and I’m eternally grateful for the entire experience.

Terri Hartman
Crave Alumni
Advisory Council Alumni Development
alumni@cravefla.org

July 2020 – Brian Vann

Endings and Beginnings

With the third year of Crave coming to an end, we celebrate the two Crave Leader graduating cohortsone from Orlando and one from Sanford. The Crave program runs from August to June so this year’s classes completed the Crave curriculum during a most unprecedented time in our country’s history. As all non-profits do, these leaders had to overcome the challenges COVID-19 employed. They did so with integrity, character, perseverance, and determination. As they grew, so did all the individuals who make up the Crave Universe. With the third year in the books, we are excited to begin year four!  

The fourth year brings excitement, but also sadness. The third year marked the end of the tenure for some of our board members. We are saddened to see these friends and colleagues roll off the board. Even though they are no longer on the board, their legacy will be felt for a long time to come. Some of these individuals helped start Crave while others shaped it into what Crave is today. We pray for their present and continued support while staying within the Crave Universe.   

Thank you to outgoing Orlando council members Tom Harris, Adam Hartnett, Jon Tschanz, Rick Jones, Kelsey Kerce, Sarah Skidmore, Tonya Tolson, and Karen Weatherford. Thank you to outgoing Sanford council members Pasha Baker, Nancy Groves, Jolene Lovemore, Erin O’Donnell, and Tom Royal.

The fourth year marks a critical time in the growth of the Crave organization. The organization is no longer a start-up as it begins its growth stage. The growth we are experiencing afforded us the opportunity to expand our leadership. We now operate with an Advisory Council of Orlando and a Board of Directors. We are thankful to welcome many new members of both the Advisory Council and the Board of Directors. These individuals are some of the most influential in our community. We are working on some amazing projects such as creating a certificate program for the Crave curriculum. We are blessed to welcome a new group of social change makers to our fourth year Crave Leader cohort. These individuals are dynamic, intelligence, and inspirational. 

Welcome new board members Faith Buhler, Gina Dole, Woody Rodriguez, and Jarvis Wheeler; and council members Chantel Aquart, Blu Bailey, Katie Brown, Terri Hartman, Stephanie Preston-Hughes, and Katrina Jackson,

I am excited to kickoff a new Crave year!

Brian Vann, Chair of the Crave Board of Directors


Announcing Crave Sanford!

Next Up: Sanford!

I have long been aware that my generation gets behaving and belonging before believing (to borrow some words from the brilliant Rev. Ben Collins). I know that intimately because that is part of my own story, even in realizing I was called to ministry. If you asked me when I was 21 if I wanted to be a United Methodist pastor in a local church, after laughing at you, I would have mumbled some curse words under my breath and rolled my eyes at how irrelevant the church is in solving the world’s real problems.

25,000 kids die globally of preventable diseases and hunger every damn day.

2.5 million kids and youth experience homelessness in the US every year.

Even though the Fair Housing Act and the Voting Rights Act were passed 50 years ago, our neighborhoods are still painfully segregated.

Fresh out of college, I worked full-time for a shelter for youth under 21, and I gave approximately zero cares about believing anything that didn’t lead to some kind of liberation for 18-year-old single parents living under bridges and in bus terminals. What I did care about though, was deeply investing my life and my passion into making the world a better place for them and for all of us.

Now I realize that’s a pretty run-of-the-mill experience for folks who have gotten burned out on organized faith, but often not on Jesus, the pursuit of a beautiful belonging, or the desire to make Good in this world.

After a few years at that shelter, I reached what is called “Compassion Fatigue” by people who know what they’re talking about and I ended up in a therapist’s chair because my best friend loved me enough to call and say, “Yeah, Richard? Its an emergency.” I realized that I would not survive without a community that literally carried me on the roughest days and a deep abiding formation that could connect me to Something Bigger than myself. That’s when I began to grasp what “the church” should be and could be: a place of belonging, formation, and enacting goodness now.

This is why I’m so excited that Crave’s next home will be in Sanford, Florida, where we can create a space to ask:

  • What does it mean to commit to a place and a people in a transient, globalized world?

  • What would it look like to gather with other folks trying to make the world a better place, even if they’re still figuring out what they believe along the way?

  • How can folks who so often create belonging for others (i.e. the world-changers gathering, growing, healing, investing, incubating, innovating) find a place of belonging for themselves?

  • How can the church invest in the big dreams of people who may never join their church but have already joined the mission to bring Goodness here, now?

We’re not sure about the answers, but we’re excited to ask these questions and more in Crave’s next cohort of spiritually curious world-changers in the best town in Central Florida: Sanford. (Try to fight me on this if you want, but you’ll see: we’re awesome).

Want to learn more? Let’s grab a coffee or a swing on the waterfront and dream together.

Meghan Killingsworth
Director, Crave Sanford
meghan@cravefla.org

#CraveFLA
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February 2018 – Caitlin White

As the youngest person on the Crave advisory board, I look a lot more like a Crave Leader than your traditional “board member.” Good news: this is no traditional board! The team of advisors and mentors that help to guide the vision of Crave is as alive with innovation, spiritual curiosity, and entrepreneurship as any I’ve experienced, so it was a natural choice to include many young leaders on the team that would shape this incubator for other Millenials.

Crave is rooted in the knowledge that age never defines wisdom, just like religious affiliation never defines true spiritual connection. From founder Michele Van Son to our advisors, from Crave’s current Leaders to community partners, everyone at Crave is on a journey of self-development, listening, and spiritual awakening.

As a young, female pastor who likes to stay on the leading edge of spiritual innovation, I got involved with Crave because it breaks the old mold and the established rules. Conventionally, churches and religious groups “support the local community” by offering a service they can control or by giving resources to efforts they can approve of (and eventually colonize). Often this results in a bait and switch: the church gives to the community in hopes of connecting with new people, evangelizing them, and teaching them about spirituality. Crave does the opposite. We believe that something good, life-giving, and inherently spiritual is already at work when people do meaningful work, meet needs in their community, and gather people around common purpose. So we say, “Look at that inspiring thing you are doing. Please come evangelize us to your way of thinking. Teach us something new. Help us to meet the needs of the people around us like you do.”

For people who are used to the old paradigm, this takes a huge leap of faith and a ton of courage. I learned one of my most important lessons in business and leadership when I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail: the difference between scary and dangerous.

Jim Koch, founder of Sam Adams Brewery, gives the example that rappelling of a cliff is incredibly scary but totally safe. Whereas, skiing across a melting snow field on a sunny day in May is not scary but incredibly dangerous – that’s a recipe for an avalanche, fellow Floridians!

Many of the great entrepreneurs of our time have a background in outdoor recreation and endurance athletics. These pursuits teach lessons that are particularly useful to innovators. I suspect this is because social and business entrepreneurship, just like outdoor recreation, is about risk management, not risk elimination. You can’t control everything. If you did, you’d never be inspired.

The success of innovators, whether in business, community organizing, community building or religion, will hinge on our ability to discern the difference between scary and dangerous — and to guide others through that discernment. Crave puts people in relationships where we explore that line together. Molli Miller, whom I mentor, also mentors me right back. She keeps me connected to fierce bravery by stepping out of her teaching career to start a surf school, to inspiring others through therapeutic athletic experiences and experiential learning, and to transformative vision as she builds a business that is more about giving back to people’s lives than realizing profit.

We need all need community where we can have courageous conversations and relationships with co-conspirators for the journey, and that is the exchange at the heart of Crave.

Caitlin White
Advisory Board Member, Mentor
Crave, Inc.