Unbroken Lines

Dear Inner Circle,

One of the markers of “cool” in high school in the 90s was being in a garage band. They weren’t easy to get into and were even harder to stay in as they tended to serve more as a marker of status than ability. So something that was meant to be fun and enjoyable soon became another way to practice exclusion, as if high schoolers needed that. Still with all of the available evidence of the futility of this project at hand, it was hard to resist giving it a crack. I even managed to get in and then kicked out of the same band three times! I can assure you that the world was not denied a great rockstar at the time, but I do lament the ways that exclusion has a way of shutting down possibilities to all that are denied in the world.

If you come to Wayside Chapel in Kings Cross on a Wednesday night you will see a group of people siting in the chapel with instruments that range from a guitar to a kazoo. The participants range from lifelong session musicians and professionals to first starters. Everyone is welcome in the circle and all tunes are sung with gusto. Last week, a nervous young man who was a newcomer joined the circle. He had quite a prominent stammer but wanted to sing, something he had never done in his life. The room almost fell silent as he belted out a wonderful, unbroken tune, much to the amazement of not only everyone present, but also to himself. His transformation through an act of radical inclusion was something to behold and gift to everyone present.

One of our values here is “No Secrets”. It points us to the truth that there is no formula that can manufacture our mission, nor a secret handbook, that if followed just right, can make someone move towards life through greater participation in our community. Even if there was we would be guilty of manipulation and disrespectful of the inherent dignity and freedom that all members of the “family of humanity” hold in common if we were to use it. So, we continue to be the “bold social experiment” that Wayside was always meant to be, in the belief that if someone walks away from here feeling “met” rather than “worked on” then it’s been another good day by the Wayside.

That’s something to sing about, thanks for being a part of our Inner Circle,


Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
Wayside Chapel

PS. For those of you who have already given to our Winter Appeal, my deepest thanks and gratitude for your generosity. You are helping us continue to be a place where people from all walks of life can feel safe and supported. For those of you who haven’t given yet, I would be grateful if you could support us, if you are able to. A donation given in love can make a big difference. Donate now.

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