In 2007, we opened the doors of Flatlanders Inn for the first time and they’ve remained gloriously and sometimes painfully open ever since. Over the past decade 112 different people have come through these doors to call Flatlanders Inn home. But they haven’t just come through our doors. Many have also responded to the challenge of community living by opening their hearts as well. In the anniversary newsletter, you can read about how many of these folks have moved on with a piece of Flatlanders lodged in their hearts – of the Kingdom inching in. We hope you’ll also get a sense of how many people have left behind their own gifts in our hearts as well. Over the decade, some stays have been brief for whatever reason – sometimes it’s just not working out and other times it’s working out so well they get back on their feet quickly. Others have stayed longer. We don’t judge success or failure by the length of stay. We simply and faithfully share our lives, open our hearts, and welcome the stranger into friendship as they come through our doors. Such is the way of Flatlanders – such is the way of the Kingdom.
Over ten years ago, there was a seed of a dream. It was to have a place – a home, really – for people to share life together in the way of Jesus. A place where real community could grow. A place where those who had been overlooked, lost in valleys of abuse, oppression, loneliness and shame could be brought onto a level and healing playing field. A place where many of the barriers to real relationship with others, God and creation could begin to be levelled. This is still the way of Flatlanders – and it is the way of the Kingdom.
The seed of this dream sprouted in March of 2007 when our doors officially opened. It was planted in the fertile soil of the Vineyard. However, the dream began to take shape before the physical space did. From a bunch of guys sleeping on couches and taking in people off the street in the Comfy Couch Room, to families welcoming others into their homes, the heart of Flatlanders Inn was germinated in many ways. Welcoming the other, the stranger, the one who just needs to get back on their feet again – this was and is the way of Flatlanders – this is the way of the Kingdom.
Community living rises and falls around the kitchen sink. It’s difficult, and messy, and challenging, and beautiful all at the same time. Everyone needs to clean up after themselves and clean up after others a little too. There’s mess involved, but there’s also great joy. Like Bruce Cockburn sings, “nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.” The past 10 years have seen many hearts creak open to experience the beauty and mess of the Kingdom. May it continue to be true of Flatlanders as we welcome the reality of Gods’ Kingdom. Thanks for celebrating this milestone with us!
I Thess. 2:8 – “We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”
Andy Wood has been part of the Flatlanders leadership team since the beginning. He is our pastoral liaison with Winnipeg Centre Vineyard church.