Saturday, November 25, 2017

Review: The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets

The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets The Weight of Mercy: A Novice Pastor on the City Streets by Deb Richardson-Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"Some days... the parade of brokenness is so profound I retreat to my office, stunned and silent."
I picked this book up at the giant used book sale that Greenville Literacy has every year and it sat on my shelf. I did include it in a round of book speed dating that I discussed in Episode 076 of Reading Envy, but that was more from an effort to cycle through book sale books by the end of the year.

This year's Book Riot Read Harder challenge included a book that is set within 100 miles of your location. Deb Richardson-Moore is the pastor and director of Triune Mercy Center in Greenville, which is 8 miles from my house, so I think it counts for the challenge. I've even been there. A few years ago, I was accompanying a clarinetist for a service there and heard her preach. She was powerful, compassionate, and a truth teller, and I remember thinking that if I were still a church person, this would be the place I'd go.

Triune is one of the central places for homeless members of my community, and she started working here right out of divinity school. Before that, she was a journalist for 27 years, something I did not know, and as such was pleasantly surprised that the writing was better than I expected. The Weight of Mercy covers her first three years at Triune, although she continues working there now. It chronicles some specific events but also just all the things she had to learn the hard way - coming to terms with the feeling that sometimes helping is doing more harm than good, the importance of rest, how to balance compassion with policies, etc. Possibly most interesting to me is realizing the enormity of mental health challenges and what the implications are.
"Now I realize that privilege can be even more primal - sound mental health being perhaps the greatest of all."
I think you can really see the groundwork being laid for what the church has become in the last decade. Her dream is clear -
"Build up the church. Bring in all kinds of people so we can have role models and mentors. Make Triune a place where an addict can come and see not just other addicts, but people living in ways he can aspire to. Make it a place where affluent Greenvillians worship alongside this invisible population."
I'm glad Richardson-Moore has people in her life pointing out when she needs to take a break, because this work is all-encompassing and draining, even while rewarding. I'm certain that she has had a great impact on our community.
"Where the love comes in, I think, is this: Showing up. Showing up day after day after day."

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