First United Lutheran Church is the primary sponsor of Middle Circle, a brand new outreach initiative fostering Curiosity, Community, and Social Good in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Middle Circle seeks to develop communities centered around common values, meaning-making, belonging and openness through service opportunities, deep conversations, compassionate relationships, and fun activities. Click here to explore the emerging Middle Circle groups.
What does community mean in a 21st century urban environment? Today we are connected in ways that we could never have imagined a few decades ago, but for many of us there seems to be something missing. We may have hundreds of friends through social networks, but have never met our neighbors. We have a desire to do good, but struggle to get civically engaged. We want a safe place to explore life’s meaning, but few outlets to go deep without having particular dogmas pushed upon us.
Middle Circle began by gathering Bay Area residents to engage in a design process to better understand the challenges of spiritual engagement and community making in progressive urban areas. During their research phase they found a level of community, the middle circle, missing in the lives of many urbanites today. A middle circle is intended to sit between your closest friends, family, and loved ones–your inner circle–and the outer circle of acquaintances that you occasionally connect with while running errands or attending a social event. This sort of community is comprised of people of various ages and backgrounds, providing support and care for us in times of need and offering diverse view-points and perspectives. Traditionally this type of community has often been supplied through the church and other religious institutions, but today most San Francisco Bay Area residents are not affiliated with religious communities. Despite the changes, many of us still seek and desire a connected, nourishing community. Middle Circle is a new San Francisco nonprofit that is working to create these authentic, “church-like” communities for those that identify as spiritual but not religious, spiritual and religious, or not spiritual and not religious.
Visit our staff page to learn more about First United’s Mission Developer and Middle Circle’s Founder and Community Chaplain, Rev. Anders Peterson.