• Allison Pelyhes

writer: Allison Pelyhes is a wife, a daughter, a true Michigander, and passionate follower of Christ who is so happy to have found Storied Church in her new community.

Recently in a conversation with a Black professor at Elon University, I was struck by a wisdom which I now seek to permanently etch on my heart. It arose out of an email chain of schedules and administrative tasks. Amidst the necessary everyday work was a pattern in which we shared our “Christian-ness”. Having never met in person, we communicated our collective belief in our signatures: “peace and blessings”, “in Christ”, and other “Christianese” terms. We began to talk more and more about the present moment in our country and what it means for our commitment as Christians. At one moment in chatting about activism, I applauded her for her tremendous courage. I was struck silent by her next faithful, honest words. She shared that to suggest she has courage is to suggest fear, “and I have none about the work or mission,” she said, “which in itself makes me dangerous.”


This was the first time someone in the church suggested to me that we as Christians be dangerous. Loving with all we have, yes. Radically serving God and others, yes. Actively seeking Justice in peaceful protest, yes. Dangerous? Did I like the assertion that Christians are dangerous when it comes to the Kingdom and what it offers? Strangely and slowly as I pondered, I came to understand the answer was: yes. So, I answered my friend back:

“Praise God! God gives us the strength to do what is asked of us, to surrender, repent, and push forward. I never considered myself dangerous, but I know Jesus was a radical man of color! So, I know it makes sense for us to live dangerously as Christians. The Kingdom is worth the fight.”

Then, I was sent on a mission to find what values in my faith could not only make me courageous, but also make me dangerous. Through prayer, God laid something on my heart:

HOPE can be the most dangerous thing we have.

Hope can be defined as, “to expect with confidence”, “to yearn for something with optimistic expectation”, or perhaps my favorite, “to cherish a desire with anticipation”. Having faith embodies this value of hope. Not only desiring for the Kingdom to come, but to expect it to come through the assurance of faith.

But what about when faith fails? Rachel Held Evans, celebrated author who passed away last May, used to preface parts of her story or sermon by saying, “on the days when I believe it’s true…” referring to the resurrection. I feel that. I feel her wanting to have faith in the resurrection which is core to our Christian belief. In those times when we don’t fully think we believe or what to believe, hope steps in.

Hope yearns for a Kingdom in which there are numerous blessings for the earth and for the nations (Genesis 12:2-3), a Kingdom which resides in us (Luke 17:21). The Kingdom promises shalom, a flourishing peace which theologian Walter Bruggeman says, “is known only by the inclusive, caring community”. We cannot see the Kingdom or know it so much so as we believe it was promised. Yet, the virtue of hope readies us for the anticipation of its coming. We cherish our desire to be reunited with God in unity with the Spirit. We hold on to Hope so that we can continue to mold our world to be “on earth as it is in heaven”.

For our present moment, hope in our spirit makes us dangerous to those who would prevent the justice of God’s kingdom from coming alive in us here and now. Hope gives us wings to wrap around us amidst oppression, racism, and heartbreak. Hope gives us strength to continue to soar dangerously instead of fearfully. In hope, we begin our climb toward and continue to actively seek kingdom justice.

  • David Gaddy

writer David Gaddy Covenant Team member

Pastor Jason and I (Gaddy) get coffee every so often at Reed’s in Mebane. Over the last few weeks, we have both participated in the unity walks in Haw River, Graham, and Mebane. Many of you have participated with us and we are elated by that. Some of our conversations today surrounded these walks, their necessity, their effect, and the need for continuing conversations.

There was one particular item we agreed on as we talked about these walks. We noticed some of the religious, insider language used is only leading to easy answers to complex problems. Most notably of this language is the phrase “What we have is not a race issue, but a sin issue.”

While it does fall short of the walk with Jesus to hate someone, simply calling racism sin would seems to point to Jesus alone being the answer. I used to joke with students when they would come to me with questions and just say “Jesus.” You have likely heard someone say, “The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it.” Very quick, simple, answers to what are likely complex problems, including systematic racism. If some of these quick answers were true, the Church would have been on the front lines of many issues and we would have been much further in the fight for equity and equality. Maybe the short answers people tend to give are easier than confronting the person we see in the mirror and the biases we may have within. It is difficult and it is scary.

The start of combating systematic racism is realizing none of us are colorblind, none of us “don’t see color.” We must realize that the race issue is an "us" issue. All of us need to grin and bear and struggle with this issue and do it together.

I am a Math Teacher by trade. Jason made an analogy that fit so perfectly, it was worth quoting him on it. Back in the day, we used textbooks! Y’all remember those? In the back were answer keys to the odd questions only. The teacher would call you out for your answer. Jason said, “You could argue that you had all the right answers. However, inevitably, the teacher would ask you ‘Where is the work for the answer you gave?’”

We have used simple answers for a long time and look where we are now. Doing the same thing over and over, saying the same thing over and over, and expecting the same result is the definition of insanity.

Our simplistic answers will never mature, cover, and heal unless they are backed up by hard work and dedication for real, long-term solutions on multiple fronts.

I have been blessed to be part of the services at Storied Church. One of the prayers Jason has shared with me to use is typically our dismissal. May this dismissal motivate us to seek more than simplistic answers to the complex issues of our day.

May this dismissal reveal within us the capability to put in the hard work to heal the hurt that exists around us. And may this dismissal remind us that we are not just dealing with a sin issue, but the real calling on our lives to the way of Christ “do good, seek justice, help the oppressed, defend the cause of orphans and fight for the right of widows” (Isaiah 1:17)

“May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers,

half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth

boldly and love deep within your heart.

May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.

May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer

from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so

that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform

their pain into joy.

May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really

CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God’s

grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.

And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus

Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Savior, and the Holy

Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this

day and forevermore.

  • Storied Church

In the early 2000s, I had my first job at my home church as a youth intern. It was a transitional season in my life. The youth pastor was leaving and the worship leader would be the interim. My friends were all going off to college while I attended a community college. I struggled to be a youth intern in this really emotional season of my life. The job didn't last long. A job I was really excited to get. I hastily quit the youth intern position.

One of the youth leaders a psychologist reached out to me following this and was concerned about my quitting abruptly and offered me counseling for free. I had never been in a counselors office up until that point in my life. So I did it.

It was a great gift to me then and now. Because it disarmed all the baggage that surrounds counseling.

I found myself able to talk about the transitions happening in my life, my struggles, and it gave me a path that was hopeful and not hopeless.

I journeyed with this counselor for the next few years of my life. And some of those years I didn’t feel like being a pastor anymore. More often I wanted to quit and do something else. But he was the one person that always kept me on the path.

One of the main things that counseling has taught me that I learned slowly is not waiting too long till it is too late. This is something that I think we all do…

I quit a lot of jobs in my early 20s. A lot. When I would get stressed and anxious about a job. I quit. I gave up.

What he taught me is the idea of processing before you act and not making rash decisions without talking through it with someone. I learned this the hard way.

Last year before I knew anything about Storied Church… or knew that it would become a reality. I found a counselor. Somebody that I could talk to about my family, community, church life. Someone that would help me process and identify areas of my life that needed addressing.

The greatest part of this work for me has been believing in myself. Because really I came into his office beat up by church life. I didn’t realize how wounded I was and all the baggage I was carrying. I didn’t believe I had the capacity to do this work. I thought I was an imposter. I was pretending to be someone I wasn't.

Having a counselor to journey alongside me has been a great gift to me. And I really can’t imagine a life without someone to help guide my life in a positive direction. It’s not a one time shot… but someone that walks with you regularly.

I don’t shy back from telling people I have a counselor. Most people’s reaction is “why do you need a counselor? What’s wrong?”. The truth is that nothing has to be “wrong” or feel “wrong” to be in counseling. It can also be about being healthier mentally and working on the blindspots in own lives that we don’t realize exist.

If there is an inkling of an idea that this would be good for you. Then do it. Not later but now. We as a church have great resources that could guide you to someone in our community.


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