Hey Team Punk Monk!
I hope you had some time to do a few fun activities over the summer. At the Neudorf household we got to go to a friend’s cottage and we spent a few days at the Crieff Hills Retreat Centre. Our whole family enjoys the walking trails and the chickens and sheep on the grounds. I also made use of the labyrinth and the little prayer chapel that is about the size of a garden shed.
In my June newsletter, I let people know that I was taking a medical leave from GOHOP to deal with the anxiety I have been experiencing since January. I have made a lot of progress with my therapist, learning and practicing coping strategies. It was around the middle of August that I realized that I had a lot more tools in my mental health tool box than I had back in the spring. I’ve also been learning to reframe the stories I have been telling myself about some of the bigger anxiety attacks that I have experienced. There is a lot of grace being infused into these sessions.
My other big medical issue has been years of chronic pain (in my hands, feet, and back). I noticed a huge improvement this summer. My physiotherapist has helped me with an exercise routine that has made me a lot stronger and this has greatly reduced my pain. My family were pleasantly surprised that I was able to hike, swim, and be really active without pain or flare ups this summer. I have also been able to enjoy playing guitar more. I do still get some random flare ups but they have been shorter and more manageable. It feels good to be strong.
- Please pray for continued access to therapy. I’m at the end of the free counselling sessions I was approved for. I will need to assess what type and frequency of therapy is helpful for me. Pray for wisdom in making these decisions.
- Pray into my transition back to work. I expected my anxiety to increase as I started back to work, but I wasn’t prepared for how much my anxiety would increase once work was back in the mix. I’m easing back into things over September to find a sustainable rhythm.
- Pray that my chronic pain would continue to decrease in frequency and severity. I would appreciate some specific prayer for my left wrist. Over the last couple weeks it has flared up and impacted my ability to play guitar and lift things.
Thank you so much for your understanding as I’ve been taking the time to care for myself over the last 3 months.
GOHOP Gala Fundraiser: Sat. Oct. 15th (5:30-8:30pm)
You are cordially invited to celebrate GOHOP’s 21st Anniversary and the launch of our new Prayer Room. We want everyone to dress up to the nines (just like a fancy wedding) and bring your friends (or even your enemies) for an evening of food, live music, artist showcase, silent auction, storytelling and celebration. I’m one of the artists being showcased and will have some my posters and paintings on display (and for sale). Here is a link to the Facebook Event Page: https://fb.me/e/3EE71Fxyo
Cost: Tickets are $20 and include entrance, dinner and dessert. Kids under 12 are FREE.
Here is how you can help out:
- CLICK HERE to buy a ticket!
- If you can’t make it (or you live too far away) you can make a donation in lieu of your ticket.
- Are you an artisan or a business owner? We are looking for donations to our silent auction. I’m happy to pass any contributions on to our planning team.
- Tell your church and invite your friends! We really want to spread the word. We would especially like to have pastors and leaders who don’t know about GOHOP to come. If there is someone you think we should offer a free ticket to, (or if your budget is a little tight right now) we do have a few extra tickets to give away. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org about free tickets.
- Volunteer at the event. We will need people to help with serving food, selling art, etc…|
Contact email@example.com if you would like to volunteer.
- Pray for the Gala. We really want people to come out and get a sense of what GOHOP is all about and how we can partner together to play with prayer.
- Pray for our prayer room ministry. GOHOP is very excited to once again be hosting a prayer room, but there will also be growing pains since we have been without a prayer room for over 2 years due to the pandemic. In many ways it feels like we are starting something completely new and at the same time familiar.
Old Reverend Randell Debut:
I have had a number of music projects over the years, my newest one is called Old Reverend Randell. This is the name I’m using to play the gospel songs I write that are a little further off the beaten trail of songs we might sing at church. I choose the name Old Reverend Randell for a few reasons:
- The biggest musicians tend to “make it” when they are young (before they are 25). Being 46, I’m an old guy in the music world and just wanted to own it. I also have some nostalgia in my music where I play vintage guitars and have a little bit of an old time vibe. I want my music to feel like something that has been around for a long time. Like I could have been a contemporary of Hank Williams, or Stompin’ Tom.
- I don’t want to hide the gospel side of my music, so I put the word “Reverend” in to make that up front. It also has a feeling of campiness to it with the work “Old” tacked on. It lets me play in bars and coffee houses while still feeling safe for a secular crowd. There are other musicians who have the title of Reverend in their stage name who just use it for show.
- The name lets me play music at churches in a way where I get to show people that God can be “weird” in a good way. I know that my music is never going to be the next big worship song but I think my music can speak to the topics and people that are often forgotten about in church.
My first Old Reverend Randell Show happened last month at L’arche Hamilton’s Inclusion Coffee House. Their tag line is “We are people with and without intellectual disabilities creating a community coffeehouse.” It was a packed house and I have never had such an enthusiastic audience. There was thunderous applause after every song (and sometimes in the middle of a song with a pause), a couple enthusiastic dancers, and one very cool ukulele player who got right up front with me.
The coffee house is located inside a city recreation centre. It was such an honour to play a mix of old hymns, cover songs, and my own tunes in a public space. That is really my dream is to be able to create something that can sit inside and outside the church in a way that is honest and helpful.
Looking for Kindness: A Creative Teaching on Faith & Anxiety
I have a creative teaching that I’ve had the chance to try out on a couple different churches. It incorporates some of my “Looking for Kindness Cartoons” along with some of my Old Reverend Randell songs. I use these creative outlets to talk about my own struggles with anxiety and how I have been leaning into the Fruit of the Spirit (especially kindness) as part of my faith journey. A number of people have talked to me afterwards about their own mental health journeys and thanked me for speaking so openly and honestly about my experience with anxiety.
If your church, small group or conference is looking for something a little different I would love to share this creative teaching with you.
While I was on medical leave I had to set aside working on fundraising to just focus on getting well. The unfortunate reality of my job is that when I’m less active, donations tend to be less frequent. This trend started back in March and has steadily been increasing ever since. Here is a snapshot of where my fundraising numbers are at:
- $2897 is my monthly fundraising goal. Details of how I came up with this number are posted here.
- $1384. is what comes in from Monthly Giving Plans.
- -$1513 is how much additional funds I need to raise each month to reach my goal. Up until March 2022 I was able to raise this through people giving one time donations and annual donations. For the last 6 months I have not reached this goal.
- $1425 is how much extra Honorarium Income I have made this year through doing guest speaking and workshops. That offsets about one month of fundraising. With being on Medical leave I had to turn down some opportunities.
- -$6209 is the total amount I’m behind in my GOHOP budget(as of September 2022), in addition to the -$4539I will still need to raise for Oct-Dec 2022.
As I’m writing this I would like to give a firm fundraising goal for the rest of 2022, but somehow that seems to be less important than ongoing sustainability. Realistically, I won’t be able to make up an almost $11,000 shortfall by the end of the year.
Going forward, I need to either reach my monthly fundraising goal, or I need to reduce my GOHOP hours and seek additional employment elsewhere. I don’t want to make that decision rashly. I will be trying to raise an additional $1513 each month, but more importantly I’ll be trying to raise that through an increase in people signing up for monthly and yearly giving plans. That is where I really need to focus my energy.
- Pray that God will expand my circle of support. This doesn’t happen without God making it happen.
- Pray that I would not be anxious about fundraising, that I would just stay the course and do the work.
- Pray that I would have more opportunities to preach, share music and lead workshops. The honorariums that come along with these things are nice but more importantly it lets me connect with people interested in my work with GOHOP.
Thank you so much for getting all the way to the bottom of this email. It means so much to me that you took the time to catch up with what is happening in my ministry with GOHOP.