One afternoon, our neighborhood association called. They wanted to know if our church could help them "throw a party."

They had money available to spend on something the neighborhood cared about, but they were having trouble getting input from people who lived in two local complexes: one large low-income housing unit and a building that was home to people living with HIV-AIDS. The association had received a lot of input from homeowners in the neighborhood on how the money should be spent, but they wanted to be sure everyone was represented. They thought that a party might be a safe place for us all to gather, have a good time, and complete a survey on how to spend neighborhood money.

I was shocked. I remember saying, "Let me get this right. The neighborhood association wants to know if they can hire the church to throw a party for the people living in these two buildings?" That's right, that's what they were asking us, and they had several thousand dollars ...

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