Dear 40 Orchards Community,
This email is to inform you of an important development in the life of 40 Orchards . Rabbi Alan, one of our beloved teachers and our friend, has felt God's call to focus his energies on communities in New England. Being an itinerant teacher comes with the weight of knowing when it is time to be willing to go. While this transition is sad for us, we celebrate both God's call of Rabbi Alan and the promise of the potential here that will move forward. Please read below to hear more from Rabbi Alan, 40 Orchards staff, and Jenna Daniels, a former cohort and current board member, about what this means for us and our hope for what’s to come.
In anticipation of the future,
40 Orchards staff and leadership
From Rabbi Alan
There is so much to share and so much to say about where we have come from, where we are, and where we are going. i feel an intense gratitude to God for the gift of it all.
In the past two years i have been walking a journey of three rivers. There has been everything that we have been developing together with 40 Orchards and all that is happening in the Twin Cities which has been, is, and continues to be an astonishment. There was-is our son Noah being called to learn to teach God's Living Word and all that has and continues to come forth to life. And there was another dimension of the journey: God began calling me back to the New England Jewish community, which also began two years ago.
i began to serve the New England Jewish Community 33 years ago, and got the call to teach in 1987. In the last 10 years though, my focus more and more has come to be in other places. First, it was in Ireland. In the last five years my focus and my heart grew more and more interwoven with people and communities that i grew to love and admire in the Twin Cities. Each of you became a part of my community in a way that was a surprising joy. When i began to get the call to return to New England, and as events continued to unfold, i felt so very conflicted. Finally this past December God brought me to two burning bush moments and i surrendered to what was a very clear message calling me back to bring forth in the New England Jewish community some of what God has created and brought forth in the Twin Cities.
So this is a time of transition and a time of passing the mantle. There are so many people who i see carrying things forward. Stephanie and Lisa will continue to bring forth tov through 40 Orchards that i know will be a blessing to so many. What has been done with 40 Orchards in these past two years is both a fulfillment and a beginning. It is exciting to dream about all that is ahead. i am deeply grateful to all those who have participated in and been a part of making the cohort program an immensely life changing experience. It is also a blessing to witness all that is happening in local church communities and new church plants, all of which hold tremendous potential and so many seeds.
i can not express enough my gratitude to all of you for how you have walked with my family and me. i love you, and know in my whole being that i would not be the person i am now without the gift of all that we have shared. i'm sad that i will no longer be able to share in it all, as i have in these last 9 years.
Finally i would be remiss if i did not mention Becky and Rick Patton. Becky and Rick first brought me to Wayzata for two days in February of 2009. They were instrumental in what has come forth from 2009 through helping form the beginning of 40 Orchards.
Well there is so much more to say about it all but for now thank you and
i love you all,
From Stephanie and Lisa
Who could have predicted all that would happen in the last two years since 40 Orchards was birthed? It has been a joy and a privilege to be part of what God is doing in the Twin Cities.
From the beginning, we knew that forming 40 Orchards was naming a mission and vision beyond any single person. Rabbi Alan has shown us a way of study that roots us in the Scriptures, makes room for questions and wrestling, and enables us to hear from the voices of community. As we have done that, we have begun to see what people are hungry for and how we can help meet needs in the Twin Cities. We are committed to continuing to follow God's lead from where we have been, to where we are, and to where we are going.
We are excited for the future of the cohort program, roots, and more. There is so much good coming from the participants in these programs and we are excited to see how this will continue to impact each of their communities. We know that there are changes, challenges and bumps in the road ahead of us. One of the first changes is about timing and we would ask that you please be patient with us as we navigate how and when we will be offering our programs, especially as it relates to the schedule of Rabbi Alan's upcoming visits. We plan on releasing the April schedule next week.
During, and especially, this time we would love to hear from you. How has 40 Orchards impacted your life and communities? What are you dreaming about for the future? How can 40 Orchards join you and your communities in bringing good into the world? We would love to discern with you more about where God is leading all of us.
Before the Israelites cross over into the Promised Land, they are given the priestly blessing. It is a conscious remembering of what is and is not ours to worry about and control. We are blessed, looked upon, and guarded by a God who loves us.
Stephanie and Lisa
From Jenna Daniels
For those of you who don't me, I'm Jenna Daniels. As a board member and a cohort member, I want to weigh in on what's happening with 40 Orchards. It's a natural thing to have questions and even concerns as an organization experiences a transition like this. I first studied with Alan back in the day before 40 Orchards even existed as an organization. I remember 2 things from that first study. First, I wondered what on earth "the light of day one" was, and second, I had never felt more alive and engaged in studying the text before (keep in mind I was in my third year of seminary). There is no doubt that Alan has been an influential person for many of us. AND my experience is that the "tov" of 40 Orchards goes far beyond the reach of a single person.
I've had the privilege of being a part of the first cohort, "alef," as we like to call ourselves. During this experience I watched people's lives change. I saw people do brave things. I saw people be vulnerable with one another in ways I've never experienced before. I saw myself deepen in knowledge and hope. And the elements that created this reality was a group of people saying yes to God and one another. This is one of many places within 40 Orchards where tov is bursting forth.
The test of if something is actually tov is if it lasts beyond the first generation. So that is where 40 Orchards is. Will the tov last? In my estimate, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. We're not done. The generative power of the word of God has never depended upon the physical presence of one person. So, will we be the people that keep saying "yes" to God and one another?
If there is anything that you might need or want to discuss with us, we are available. The April schedule will be released next week and we are also trying to plan a larger gathering for July. If you would like to participate in the planning of a July event or have something that you would like to share, please let us know. Through this transition, our values remain the same, to be face to face, spacious, life-giving, rooted, wrestling and expectant.