The reason we originally incorporated was so we could take donations and allow people to claim a tax deduction. Our goal was never to make money for ourselves; I never planned to have a salary or to "be the Pastor". Rather, we wanted to collectively pool resources and give those funds away to the people in our lives who we knew needed the money.
As I referenced in A Bend In The Road, we were originally a "church plant" within the Association of Vineyard Churches. As such, we had some funds in our account as a start-up which had been a gift from our "sending church". So, over time, we simply gave all that money away.
One great example is a single mother whose minivan broke down. It would cost $1500 to fix it, or she could try and buy a used one for $2500+. She had about $1000 she could scrape up if she really scrimped, but either way she didn't have enough money. So, The Orchard wrote her a check for $1500, no strings attached. We didn't write the check to a mechanic or a used car lot. We wrote it to her personally and she got to decide what to do with it -- whether she used it toward a car or not wasn't the point. Expressing God's love to someone in need was the point. She was in tears and didn't really know what to say.
THAT's the kind of thing we wanted to do more of -- and so if people wanted to donate and help us decide where that money could best be donated, then at least all those who gave to The Orchard could get a deduction on their taxes.
Here's the deal though: no one ever gave us any money. No one. Ever. (not even us -- we didn't donate to our own non-profit!).
As the money in our account dwindled and ran out, we realized that we (Cathy & I, as a couple) would still be giving away money (and time and love, etc) to people around us who were in need, with or without a tax deduction, since that is not the point. And therefore we had no need to maintain a non-profit corporation. In fact, doing so sort of went against the basic essence of the last directive we really received from God about this whole journey we've been on here at The Orchard when The Orchard Master said to us:
"Don't build anything. Just love people"So as of this month, according to the State of Oregon, "The Orchard Community" does not exist as an official entity. We've been dissolved.
Dissolved. Un-solved. I like that, since there are no easy answers.
And we're also now more disillusioned than ever.
But don't get me wrong: disillusionment is a good thing!
Being more and more disillusioned means we have fewer and fewer illusions; less deceptions and false visions in our sight as we look at the people in our lives and in the world around us, as we look at ourselves, and as we look to The Orchard Master for where we are all headed together on this crazy mixed up journey.
In our early days here in Oregon and just before we moved, I described what we were seeing like driving on a foggy road out in the country. We were not sure what we would look like or how we would function and "be" the church. We had some ideas of course, but they were vague and nebulous -- like looking out into the fog and seeing a general outline of a house. We knew there was "something" up ahead, but we were not sure what it was. I thought as we moved closer we would see it more and more clearly. Instead, quite the opposite has happened. The longer we are here, the more we realize what we thought we were seeing was not what it was at all. There were a lot of illusions as our eyes and our hearts played tricks on us.
So this month as we celebrate the arrival of another Spring,
And we consider the timing and wisdom behind the dissolution of our non-profit corporation,
And we enjoy the journey of dis-illusion-ment, we might just be starting to see some things more clearly.
The imagery and symbolism of an orchard still makes a lot of sense. But if all we ever look at is the orchard itself, we miss so much around us. As we begin to look around us as the fog clears a bit,
maybe when it is all said and done and disllusion meets dissolution there really is no house up ahead in the fog; no "place" for us to inhabit and "do things".
Perhaps instead we're seeing a natural playground, a wide expanse to explore and enjoy with whoever we encounter along the way. That sounds relaxing and fun; daring and adventurous and exciting: full of possibilities and new life and growth as we experience, enjoy, reciprocate and express Creator's great and marvelous ever-expansive love.