The Heirloom Seeds of an Ancient and Profoundly Relevant Faith

sngBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (right), a pastor, parent, author and organizer in Portland, OR

*This is the third installation of a year-long series of posts from contributors all over North America each answering the question, “How would you define radical discipleship?” We will be posting responses regularly on Mondays during 2019.

As is often quoted within Radical Discipleship circles, ‘Radical’ comes from the Latin: radix, meaning root — getting to the root causes, the root pressures, the roots of our faith. Yes! Let’s get to the roots!

But today as I reflect on what Radical Discipleship means to me, and why it is necessary in the first place, I want to talk about seeds. Continue reading

The First Hope in our Inventory

SNGDay 31 of our Lenten Journey through Dr. King’s “Beyond Vietnam” speech.

We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation. The oceans of history are made turbulent by the ever-rising tides of hate. History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations and individuals that pursued this self-defeating path of hate. As Arnold Toynbee says: “Love is the ultimate force that makes for the saving choice of life and good against the damning choice of death and evil. Therefore the first hope in our inventory must be the hope that love is going to have the last word.”

From Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin (photo above, with family), Wilderness Way Community (Portland, OR)

I turn my headlamp off. A faint pulse of fear shoots through me in that split second of complete darkness before my eyes adjust. Wind whips. Salty water sprays off the crashing waves. The ocean roars. I mean, roars.

This is not a habit of mine — venturing alone to the beach at night in gale force winds. But I cannot find my place in the camaraderie and singing around the campfire. Tonight, I am overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the turbulent oceans and ever-rising tides of hate manifesting in our country. Overwhelmed by the tidal wave of climate change already literally crashing in on our shores. Internally I flail and gasp for air, inundated by the torrential consequences of greed and corruption, sexism and homophobia, racism and classism, colonialism and violence — everywhere it seems, violence — economic and ecological, sexual and physical, psychological and spiritual. The deluge just. doesn’t. stop. Continue reading

The earth we are leaving for our children…The children we are leaving for our earth…

Wilderness WayBy Solveig Nilsen-Goodin

Just a few weeks ago, the Wilderness Way Children’s School (read: Sunday School…Wilderness Way style) opened its doors to invite children whose parents are not regularly participating in the life of the community. Why?

Imagine this…

Imagine a “Sunday School” program happening mostly outside.

Imagine a Sunday School program led by two well-paid (for the few hours a week they prepare for and work with our children), highly skilled and experienced teachers of children, who view their work with children as a calling. Continue reading

Empire Cracking: An Interview with Wilderness Way

wildernessThis interview was taken by Lydia Wylie-Kellermann as part of a writing project for Geez Magazine entitled “She is Breathing: Listening for Another World and an End to Empire.” It was published in the Winter Issue.

Lydia Wylie-Kellermann: Biefly, what is Wilderness Way’s story? How did it come to be? What was it in response to? What was it a calling away from and a calling to something different?

Solveig Nilsen-Goodin: Wilderness Way began with a friend of mine coming over one day in 2006 saying he was feeling led to start an alternative church at the margins of Christianity, and something inside of me immediately responded, YES!  We spent the next six months listening for what “at the margins of Christianity” meant to us, and gathering others to join us, and soon the name, Wilderness Way Community, emerged.  The name signifies the particular place we are planting ourselves.  Biblically, the wilderness is the place outside the walls of empire, the place where prophets are called and fed, the place where manna is given and enoughness is taught, the place where John the Baptist initiated those who were defectors from and dehumanized by empire; the place where Jesus was tested and prepared for his prophetic, spiritual leadership.  Wilderness also signifies the wild spaces that emerge and exist without human control.  Within the context of Western civilization (particularly urban contexts) most of us are profoundly cut off from the “natural” world – a disconnection that is having devastating consequences for the planet, the poor, and our very souls.  The values we seek to bring forward are, in fact, values found deep in the wilderness of both scripture and nature: the values of Sabbath, jubilee and shalom. When manifested, these values look a lot like what Jesus called the Kingdom of God, and that’s the new (old) world that is emerging. Continue reading

When Bees Talk…We Listen

BeesBy Solveig Nilsen-Goodin, Wilderness Way Community, Portland, OR

“I heard something…” she said.

I had just spoken the final, “Amen,” closing the prayers at our weekly gathering as the Wilderness Way Community on a sunny Sunday afternoon in early June. But she had heard something. And she needed us to hear it too.

It was a message from the bees.
Continue reading

Taking the First Step: Addiction, Ecology & Recovery

SNGBy Rev. Solveig Nilsen-Goodin of the Wilderness Way Community in Portland, a team of Jesus-followers committed to “discovering wisdom for our time, healing for ourselves and our planet, and the power of untamable (resurrection!) life!” She and her partner Peter are also active participants with Eco Faith Recovery, a growing network of faith-based people and institutions within the Christian tradition, waking up to the enormity of the ecological-economic-spiritual crisis before us. Their children, Soren & Stig, recently interrupted our dinner conversation with chants of “We hate coal! We hate coal!” (above: the Nilsen-Goodin family)
The profound ecological degradation we are currently witnessing and the rise of addictive behaviors such as alcoholism and drug addiction are two sides of the same coin.
Albert LaChance

Waking up to the developing global ecological crisis is like moving from being a child in an alcoholic family to growing up and going into recovery.
Continue reading