i posted last week that mayor halverson had responded to my request to have coffee with him and allow me to ask him four questions. today was the day scheduled for our conversation. i’ll try my best here to summarize here most of what we talked about. i want to start off by saying that i really enjoyed my conversation with him. since i live in plover i “have no dog” in the stevens point political system. mayor halverson wouldn’t really gain any political traction by meeting with me, the pastor of a small church who doesn’t even have the ability to personally vote in stevens point political issues. he could have therefore thought that spending an hour with me was a waste of his time but he didn’t and i am very appreciative of his graciousness. my conversation with him was one that went down a lot of paths and one that i really enjoyed.
here’s a reminder of the 4 questions i wanted to ask him.
- what do you think are the biggest needs in the point area and how do you think the churches of the area can be a part of the solution to these needs?
- what do you wish a church in the area would do?
- what is the best kept secret in the point area?
- can you tell me three other people who love the area that you think i should take out for coffee and a conversation?
our conversation bounced around from practical city issues to sociology, so it is a little difficult to write down definite answers to each of these questions but i’ll still try to summarize what we talked about.
question #1 – what do you think are the biggest needs in the point area and how do you think the churches of the area can be a part of the solution to these needs?
mayor halverson described the history of the point area in regards to economic recessions. people around here do a pretty decent job of living within their means rather than living off credit. this means that recessions are usually slower to hit the point area but eventually do when jobs are lost as a result of the national economic changes. for point this means the job losses we’ve more recently been having from plant and business closings. point is slow to go into recessions and also slow to recover from them as a result. point will eventually recover economically and that is where mayor halverson sees that churches can help. his worry is that people will lose faith and hope in the midst of the recession and he believes that churches can help here. i’ll discuss this now in the second question i wanted to ask him.
question #2 – what do you wish a church in the area would do?
the answer to this question is actually hodge podged together from our discussion of the first question, because we kind of bounce into other areas of discussion based on this question (like i said earlier it was an enjoyable conversation and for me that usually means “rabbit chasing”). mayor halverson said that there were a fair number of people in the community who are being hurt by the recession who don’t have the resources to recover as well as others. his request of a church would be to help, along with other organizations such as operation bootstrap and food pantries, provide the “safety net” (my phrase) for this group while also helping people to struggle through the question of “why.” he worries that people might lose faith and hope that tomorrow can be better and he thinks churches can really help provide answers in regards to struggles with “why”.
question #3 – what is the best kept secret in the point area?
mayor halverson’s first answer to this question surprised me. he said the best kept secret in the point area is the giving nature of the community. i’m not surprised that i live in a giving community. instead, i was surprised by how much giving happens in point. apparently point is in the top third of communities nation-wide in giving to the united way. i didn’t realize this. the mayor then went on to describe other wonderful aspects of point such as the green circle and uwsp, which i would completely agree with, but i was most surprised by the extent of the giving nature.
question #4 – can you tell me three other people who love the area that you think i should take out for coffee and a conversation?
i won’t mention the names that he told me contact. i will say that he did direct me to three other people i should talk to and this is the part that i was most excited about. i’ll be contacting these individuals soon asking them out for coffee in the hopes of hearing their answers to these same four questions.
i really enjoyed my conversation with the mayor and learned a good bit form him. i am possibly most thankful for what he said at the end. when our conversation was ending mayor halverson invited me to call him anytime i had questions concerning the history and development of some part of point. this will be incredibly helpful.
as pastor of tapestry i hope all the “threads” will do this same thing. take someone out for coffee and ask them questions concerning our community and what we as a church can do to help it. then do the most important thing and listen. JESUS taught that we love GOD when we love our neighbors. we’ll do a better job of that when we are constantly listening to those around us.