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Introducing Shelly Denmark

 

I knew the Crave community was something special the moment I entered the second floor of the East End Market. There was a sense of closeness and connection and common purpose among everyone present. It was evident from the way Michele, the Crave leaders, the Board members, the Mentors, and other support partners interacted with one another; they were deeply invested in each other’s lives as part of a spiritual, meaningful community. I have tried to capture what Crave is and what Crave does when sharing about it with other people, and yet, there’s a magical element of needing to experience the Crave community in some way for oneself in order to grasp how the Spirit is moving. I am beyond thrilled to join Crave as the Director for Crave Orlando III, and I am confident that this transformational, hope-inspired community will continue to thrive and expand to new cities in the future.

To understand why Crave had such an impact on me in that particular moment, you’d need to know a bit about my recent history. Last fall, I decided that I would take a break from serving as a pastor in a local church, starting this summer. There were many reasons for my decision, but mainly I had a hard time seeking balance in a system that oftentimes is set up for the contrary.

Underneath it all, however, I felt a holy discontent. There was something about the way we have “done church” all these years that felt like it wasn’t working anymore, nor able to carry us into a new, creative future. Some say that mainline churches in the United States are in a “Reformation” moment. Many churches are in decline with many things needing to change, but a lot of leaders aren’t sure what those necessary changes looks like. To borrow from Tod Bolsinger in Canoeing the Mountains, we are in a “Lewis & Clark” moment. We have to adapt and innovate. Enter Michele Van Son Neill and Crave.

Around the same time that I was feeling this urge to do something different for awhile and have more time to devote to my family and overall sense of wellbeing, Michele and I had a two-hour mutually-beneficial conversation. We felt a similar need to find balance as spiritual leaders and mothers, we both sensed that ways of “doing church” in the future looked radically different from the models we have now, and we were set on encouraging one another to take brave steps in order to address both of those issues. A few months later, we had another conversation, and Michele invited me to the Crave II graduation to get a better sense of an alternative way for churches to connect with people who are already transforming the world. I was hooked, especially after applause in the Crave community meant a standing ovation! And I am even more excited, having read the stories and projects of our Crave Orlando III applicants who are engaged in meaning-making work here in Orlando. I can’t wait to learn from them, support them, and journey alongside them this year!

Shelly Denmark
Director, Crave Orlando                                                                                                shelly@craveorlando.org  


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Tags: Crave 3, Shelly Denmark

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Thank you to the following generous donors:

CRAVE CHAMPIONS ($20,000 +)

Susan H. Marcy & Wilbur H. Marcy Trust, Winter Park FL

Dean and Jill Bosco and Family, Orlando FL

Davidson Family Foundation, San Jose CA

Bill Walker and Rev. Debbie McLeod, Winter Park, FL

 

CRAVE CHEERLEADERS ($2,000 +)

Rev. Michele Van Son and Rob Neill and Family, Winter Park FL

Ivor and Mary Scott Singer, Winter Park FL

Future Generations Fund, Lakeland FL

Florida Methodist Conference, Lakeland, FL

Kathleen Hoffman, Clearwater FL

Phillip Henry, Orlando FL

Charlotte and Dave Nielson, Winter Park FL

Bell Bank, Winter Park FL

Angie and Jeff Winn, Windermere FL

Ashley and Brian Vann, Winter Park FL

Katrina and Mark Jackson, Winter Park FL

Jim and Liz Stroz and Family, Winter Park FL

Blaire and Josh Lynch and Family, Winter Park FL

Barbie and Steve Boyd, Winter Park FL

Laura and Miles Toshie, Winter Park FL

Carin and Oscar Anderson, Orlando FL

RJ Sonomo Family Giving Fund, Orlando FL

Catherine and Skip Matthias and Family, Winter Park FL

Debby and Jim Manuel, Orlando FL

Kristin and Ryan Morgan and Family, Winter Park FL

Janice and Randy Ellington, Maitland FL

Massey Services, Inc., Orlando FL

Bailes Family Foundation, Winter Park FL

Beth and Bill Neidlinger, Winter Park FL

and the over 200 Crave Community Builders who’ve donated $2 to $2000.00!