Whose Child Are You?
by Heather Deifell
A friend invited my sister and me to check out Haywood Street after hearing of our global adventures and desire for a diverse, "out-of-the-box," faith community. He thought it might just be what we were looking for. The food was still being served soup kitchen-style back then and the line wrapped around the dining room. Brian said something controversial in the service which brought about some lively discussion from the eclectic mix of people who had all kinds of opinions. We ended with the inclusive question, "Whose child are you?" and in spite of the difference, we all responded "God's child!" I found my faith family.
Through the last 13+ years of life's rollercoaster, Haywood St. has kept me grounded. Some people think I'm crazy to bring my 9-year-old daughter, Iona, while some encourage her shy engagement. Connecting with people by showing unconditional love is a theme for any time you spend at Haywood St. and everyone knows that whether you're a companion, friend, supporter or staff... the young, the elders, the widows, the refuges, the addicts, and even the animals. Why wouldn't I want Iona to know and understand that kind of love mixed in with all the holy chaos... especially because of that mix?
She’s seen fights, heard lots of foul language, and been served communion by someone under some influence. She’s also been allowed to run around the sanctuary during services, play under the alter, sing in the kids' choir, and help with prayers and the offering. When asked, Iona said she loves that everything is free at Haywood Street for everyone and that anyone is accepted, even kids being loud in the service. She knows she can’t fix everyone’s problems or struggles, but she can try to bring a smile to their hearts…and wouldn’t have it any other way.