Tag Archives: Volunteering

Affordable Christmas comes to Pinellas County

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This year, we are once again proud to be sponsors of “Affordable Christmas,” an event put on by our good friends over at Current.

Affordable Christmas is a shopping event, hosted by the Greater Ridgecrest YMCA and Urban Young Life in Largo, that invites low-income and middle-class families to browse the “aisles” to find gifts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The gifts are then wrapped for them while they enjoy a meal (and child care), courtesy of the amazing volunteers!

Sounds awesome, right?

Our involvement as a sponsor means the following:

  1. We’ll be donating some new (unopened) toys and games to Current for the invited families
  2. If you don’t have toys to donate, you can donate money (even the smallest amount helps, and $20 buys a new toy)
  3. We’ll be volunteering that day at the event – Volunteers are needed to help out as cashiers, personal shoppers, gift wrappers and more!

This event is always lots of fun. And, we can bring our families along to help! The young ones can even play with other kids in the day care while we volunteer.

It will be held on Sunday, December 14 at the Ridgecrest YMCA in Largo from 3-6 p.m.

All you need to do to sign up is visit the Affordable Christmas site and under “Largo Event,” click “Donate” or “Volunteer.” It’s that easy. If you are in the Tampa Bay area and have new/unused items to donate (that meet the criteria on the site), and won’t be able to volunteer, you can drop them off with us. Just shoot us an e-mail.

NOTE: This is an invitation-only event. Families who are in need of help will need to register through Pinellas Urban Young Life.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO!

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Current of Tampa Bay presents “Affordable Christmas”

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This December, we are proud to be sponsors of “Affordable Christmas,” an event put on by our good friends over at Current.

It will be held on Saturday, December 7 in Tampa from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Affordable Christmas is a shopping event, hosted by Crossover Church, that invites low-income families to browse the “aisles” to find gifts they wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford. The gifts are then wrapped for them while they enjoy a meal (and child care), courtesy of the church!

Sounds awesome, right?

Our involvement as a sponsor means the following:

  1. We’ll be donating some new (unopened) toys and games to Current for the invited families
  2. If we don’t have toys to donate, we can donate money (even the smallest amount helps, and $20 buys a new toy)
  3. We’ll be volunteering that day at the event – Volunteers are needed to help out as table workers, personal shoppers and gift wrappers!

This event is going to be lots of fun. And, we can bring our families along to help! The young ones can even play with other kids in the day care while we volunteer.

All you need to do to sign up is visit the Affordable Christmas site and under “Tampa Event,” click “Donate” or “Volunteer.” It’s that easy.

Hope to see you all on the 7th!

P.S. If you are in the Tampa Bay area and have new/unused items to donate (that meet the criteria on the site), and won’t be able to volunteer, you can drop them off with us. Just shoot us an e-mail.


Religion 2.0: The Formation of the Integral Church

You know that moment when the sand at the bottom of the hourglass starts to cave in toward the center? And it seems like suddenly the grains start to quicken, to pick up speed. But it’s an illusion, right? They don’t really move any faster, do they? Time doesn’t speed up if we have less of it. Or does it?

2012, The Year of the Dragon (my birth sign) is coming to a close and I was told to expect both profound “promise and demise.” Looking back on this year, I suppose both of those things are true. On one hand, I wasted most of the year — beating around the bush, hesitating out of fear, trying on old habits, instead of taking a deep breath and stepping onto the end of the diving board. And on the other hand, I also took my time and I meditated. I’ve finally come to a decision, deliberately and purposefully, about what my next steps should be. Something in me has been building steam for quite a while, and it’s high time that I tell everyone what I’ve been up to. Not just to share the news with you — my friends and family — but in hopes that by giving voice to my intentions, by articulating my plan, I will help to further realize it in my own heart and mind.

I am forming a non-profit, religious organization called the Integral Church. Something that is, in the eyes of the Internal Revenue Service, a brand new religious denomination. Something that until very recently, hasn’t existed.

Religion means so many things to different people, that for our purposes here, we should make an attempt to define it. “Religion,” in my opinion, is not just dogma, doctrine or creed — which all refer specifically to passages of scripture, koans, mythology, mantras, law, ethics, etc. These are parts of religion, yes. But they are not the whole story. Religion, to me, relates to the way an individual understands their own consciousness, it is the method in which they are self-aware, and it is the way that person struggles with or attempts to answer life’s big questions. The big questions like, “What is my purpose,” “What (or who) is God,” “Where did the universe come from,” “What is the nature of time,” etc. These questions can be tackled by personally investigating the nature of the self and the universe — by doing the experiment and seeing with your own eyes, they can be contemplated and interpreted through mythology and storytelling, or both. But the big question is usually centered in the “I.” How do I relate to the universe/God? What happens when I die? And it’s through the exploration of these questions that a spiritual practice and ways to honor the cosmos or God are consciously developed (or not).

You don’t have to tell me — religion has been a less than perfect solution for a lot of things. But that’s why now, more than ever, we need to build something new. Something that the world has never seen before.

Why?

The reason for starting a religious organization, and not simply another community non-profit, is the next logical step in a personal journey that began in the woods of Central Wisconsin as a teenager. That is where I experienced my first epiphany — a vision of the universe as a spinning record, and myself as the needle. I was nudged down this path when asked by a dear friend of mine to officiate my first wedding (I have grown to further appreciate and understand the deep importance of ritual in family life and have since performed my sixth wedding, a memorial service and countless fatherhood rituals). An intellectual seed was planted when I discovered the writings of Arthur Koestler and Ken Wilber, and began to sprout when I realized that their life’s work was a continuation of those who came before them — Sri Aurobindo, William James, Aldous Huxley. When I finally discovered the writings of the modern Catholic reformers — those who had been exiled from the institutionalized religion that they loved for demanding further reform and more inclusive liturgical structures (i.e. Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox, Bishop John Shelby Spong, and Fr. Richard Rohr) — I began to see the forest for the trees. I also saw the path that cut straight through the archaic wilderness to the heart of a post-modern center. I understood that we needed to build something new.

But none of this justifies the foolish act of starting a religion, does it? Starting a religion is a crazy thing to do, right? Especially in Florida. Nobody does that.

Let me be perfectly clear: the reason for this undertaking is not just because we need a new vision of the world, a world where religious tolerance is the rule; where religions are not seen as warring tribes, but as neighboring families that each contain their own spectrums of consciousness — from traditional conservatives to modern progressives. A world where believers and non-believers alike can find a common language and a sense of context. There are too few places where compassionate atheists and humanists can get involved with environmental causes or helping the less fortunate. Our vision of the world includes the creation of — and access to — these types of programs. But, it also includes children being taught mindfulness and modern (peer-to-peer) informational literacy, it includes cities being built (or re-built) around biodiversity, community farming and cooperation. It is a world where everything is a Holon¹ (a whole and a part) and where “spirituality” is understood (and practiced) in very real terms, knowing that there is indeed an energy in me that is identical to the energy in you. In an integral context, that means an individual approach that at once includes meditation/contemplation, exercise/nutrition, sustainability/environmentalism, and community service/civic engagement². In this new world, being open-minded is celebrated, “transcending and including” is the new norm and those who change their mind can more easily imagine a changing world³.

The reason is also not simply because many of us are finding that we have a shared set of beliefs — a belief that God is beyond gender (neither male or female), that human gender roles and sexual behavior do not exist discretely as male or female but as points along a continuum†. A belief that science and philosophy are tantamount in answering life’s big questions. A belief that new gender-balanced mythologies (that have yet to be written) are necessary for our modern age — stories that take into account how we interact with the technology and computer networks that we’ve built to encircle our planet and how we use these networks to communicate with other nations and nationalities around the globe, sometimes on a daily basis. And, finally, a belief that the First Cause that created the universe is simply unknowable and that love may very well be all you need‡.

The reason for starting a religious non-profit — for building a “ministry” — is to spread the message that we change the world by living in it ∞. That our personal unfolding, our continually-expanding consciousness, the ability to take more and more perspectives, the primordial drive toward increasing biological complexity, is directly related to the evolution of the entire cosmos. We — our interiors and exteriors — are all part of that whole. It is one action. In fact, it is Spirit-in-Action. Continue reading


Feeding Children Everywhere brings “Project 3” to Ybor City

Thanks to everyone at Feeding Children Everywhere who hosted a food packing event in Ybor City during the 2012 Republican National Convention. Our shift alone packed 100,000 meals in two hours that were sent to hungry families within the United States, and the event lasted for three days.

Hoola for Happiness was on-site providing hip-gyrating warm-up activities while we waited for our shift to begin. We were honored to serve alongside all the other churches and community members that came out to support and volunteer.

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