Imagination for a New Year

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” — Isaiah 43:19.  

As we begin the first full year of our operation as Pro Deo Foundation, these words from Henri Nouwen are so crucial for us:

We must learn to live each day, each hour, yes, each minute as a new beginning, as a unique opportunity to make everything new. Imagine that we could live each moment as a moment pregnant with new life. Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to the voice saying to us: “I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!” Imagine.

Henry Nouwen

The practice of imagining for adults is challenging because it involves seeing with new eyes, or seeing that which is not readily apparent, or seeing potential where there seems to be little. Kids are good at imagining because they have not yet been duped by what we adults call “a taste of reality.” The older we get, the fewer possibilities do we see before us. We become tainted by our negative experiences and fail to believe that there may be a stream in this desert.

Fortunately or unfortunately, we do not have the luxury at Pro Deo to give up on the search for the watering hole. One hundred percent of our work is predicated on our capacity to imagine something new—new solutions to old social problems, new relationships, new partnerships, new programs, new pathways for children and youth to flourish.

So, we are committed to the practice of imagining as we set out on 2019. Here are a few imaginative goals for the year:

  1. Site Acquisition – As we begin to design the Pathways program for Carpinteria, we can imagine a space out of which we can run vocational mentoring, manufacturing, retail, community events and wellness programs for at-risk youth. We envision a warehouse downtown close to food, the middle school, a park, and the beach. We imagine what it might be like to use shipping containers to build out sections of the warehouse, and we even imagine the possibility of partnering with a for-profit collaborative startup business.
  2. Digital Initiative – We imagine using the web as a platform to provide resources for fathers to improve their primary relationships—through meetups, online content and online community. We imagine a podcast where we interview leading experts in the field, conferences, excursions and adventure trips. We imagine this site being helpful for both suburban and incarcerated fathers. 
  3. Collaborative Relationships – Our first six months of work has largely been spent researching – doing “landscape analysis” intensely in our home community and loosely throughout Santa Barbara County. We have been surprised and grateful for a strong receptivity all around. From this research, we now imagine leaning into some of these relationships for further development and the formation of a launch team for local programs.
  4. Spiritual Leadership – Imagination is required for me to consider using my pastoral gifts in the community, as this is the first time in my life as a pastor without having a church to bring me spiritual needs every day. I imagine both doing a little preaching and walking alongside individuals seeking spiritual renewal and direction for their lives. I imagine the development of a book project on spiritual leadership. And I imagine opening up our home and family for spiritual renewal for the community. The question is whether I can imagine the time this will require!
  5. Granting Partnerships – After narrowing our list of granting partners, we now imagine going more in-depth with a few, while developing some new partnerships that better align with our mission and vision. We imagine granting relationships that are neither geographically nor financially limited. Our strong relationship with ByGrace Children’s Home and our emerging relationships with Better Together Ministries and Hope Refuge are examples of this imaginative approach to granting relationships. 

With this kind of work set out for us, we recognize the negative forces that want to kill our imaginative energies. We know that we must open our minds and our hearts to the voice that resounds through the valleys and hills of our lives saying: “Let me show you where I live among my people. My name is ‘God-with-you.’ I will wipe all the tears from your eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone” (Revelation 21:2–5). This is the future we imagine.

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Imagination for a New Year

Chris Pritchett

Chris Pritchett was our first CEO of the Pro Deo Foundation. He currently resides in Salt Lake City, Utah with his wife and three kids. Chris is the Senior Pastor of Mount Olympus Presbyterian Church

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