Saturday, May 30, 2009

New Wanderers - Mogofians

The phrase "new wanderer" does not perfectly apply to Gale and Peter Mosgofian of the Arcata (Northern California coast) Vineyard. They are not "new" to the Faith, to Christian leadership and service, or to the Vineyard. So how is it that they deserve the honor of being mentioned in my blog series? Because of the way they have kept their mission and their community life "new" in the setting they are in.

A quick word about Eureka / Arcata, California where the Mosgofians live, work and minister. It is an area defined, in part, by its wooded surrounding, coastal beauty, and University (Humboldt State) youthfulness. Enter the Mosgofians who founded the Arcata Vineyard Community there. After establishing the Vineyard as a local church community, their mission for the care of the larger community moved them to establish a coffeehouse business (called "Mosgo's") in a part of town that was "dying", according to Gale Mosgofian. As a licensed Therapist and Vineyard co-pastor, she notes: “I have real concerns about people living so far from where they work. As a result they don't develop community where they live. They don't develop relationships where they're really vital.”

After studying the needs and developing the philosophy for their new endeavor, the Mosgofians took the rather large risk of opening their coffeehouse with a purpose. Not only does the site host the Coffeehouse venue but, thanks to a removable wall, can also be turned into a perfomance site that has featured local music acts and other performers -- from soft acoustic to the downright head banging stuff. One of the recent musical performers reflected on his experience by saying: "The people that work at Mosgo’s are top-notch people, and the coffee is great. They are genuinely good people who want to do something good for the community. I’ve had only wonderful encounters with the people there.”

In addition, Mosgo's space houses Common Ground Community Center next door which is available to anyone from the community for classes like dance and pilates, among other things. The Vineyard church also worships in this space on Sundays.

"If your church was suddenly gone tomorrow, who in the community would notice?" is a question that confronted Rich and Rose Swetman in Seattle who answered it in their own context as Vineyard believers (see earlier New Wanderers post). Peter and Gale Mosgofian and their compadres have come up with their own answer to that question given the challenges, needs and opportunities in their community. For them, Mosgos, Common Ground CC and the life of the Vineyard Church in Arcata have become more than destinations. They have become touchpoints through which relationships are begun and grown and the community around them is touched and changed. Perhaps these words from the Arcata Vineyard website say it best: "Someone's gonna change the world. Why not us?"

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