Come have a seat at the table with us.
MissionWe exist to meet needs, build bridges, and see our city made Whole.
VisionA WellBuilt City
- Jesus’ mission to proclaim freedom to captives
- Asset Oriented
- Direct Reciprocal Relationship & Interdependence
- Taking Responsibility: Meaningful Work
- Setting The Table
Jesus’ mission to set captives free
Jesus began his life of ministry by reading these words from the book of Isaiah as a kind of declaration of his own calling and identity
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4)We are likewise called to proclaim good news, grace, recovery, and freedom. We walk alongside the poor, reminding them that they are a valued child of God, created in the image of a Creator, worthy of respect and dignity, and created to be free. We understand poverty to be the opposite of our God given freedom. While poverty is often obvious and material, it also manifests itself psychologically, socially, and spiritually.
We aim to proclaim freedom in the face of every kind of captivity.
Asset oriented“It’s only waste if we waste it!”
While it is all too tempting to perceive scarcity in the face of need, we commit to push ourselves to declare abundance and value. So much waste exists because we waste it. We are aiming to have the eyes to see value in the places that it is often overlooked. This posture is well symbolized in that passage “The stone that the builders refused has become the head cornerstone.” God, it seems, digs the stone from the builders trash heap and makes it a key ingredient in the building of the Kingdom. We also want to be a people who seek, find, and demonstrate overlooked value among what and who is otherwise being discarded.
Direct Reciprocal Relationship & InterdependencePoverty is the opposite of Freedom and it grows out of broken relationships. If love unites and sets free, evil divides and eliminates freedom. We believe that relationships that are reciprocal in nature are a way to cultivate human freedom and flourishing. We aim to build interdependent communities. Prioritizing relationships will shape how we do what we do; it will mean that we will focus on the few so that we can go deep in the relationships we have the privilege of stewarding.
Taking Responsibility: Meaningful WorkWhile there might always be the temptation to find fault or criticise in the face of our cities problems, we are striving to prioritize how we can each take personal responsibility toward contributing solutions. This is what Gandhi was challenging us to when he instructed us to “Be the change that you want to see.” Real problems demand real engagement and investment. We find the most meaning in our work when we take real responsibility for challenges that are worth making sacrifices for. We want to build the relationships described above in shared and meaningful work. (The work is a table)
May our industriousness be the evidence of our faith, our hopes, and our deepest convictions. If you want to know what we believe, watch what it is that we do. It’s easy to say that we are Christian, but any genuine belief or true ethic is revealed in action, embodied in the work that we spend ourselves on.
Call it entrepreneurship, apostolic mission, artistic endeavour, or public service, our intention is to invest our creative energies into rehearsing our vision for the future of our city within our current contexts: In homes. In the marketplace. In Culture. We are working to be the answer to our own prayers to see the kingdom come, or to say it another way, to see our city made whole. We take on the responsibility to see our city become a WellBuilt City.
Setting the Table:The setting of the table is how the above values manifest themselves. We have learned that a properly set table is a fundamentally important feature of our work. This is essentially an environmental conviction. The slogan “Bread & Roses” captures the reality that we need more than sustenance, we need dignity and beauty. While we often start by doing what is necessary in the face of need, we are always dedicated to looking for ways to add beauty and dignity to the tables that we are setting. If all that we are doing “is an excuse to build relationships” then we will obviously prioritize the art of creating spaces that cultivate those connections. While we will work hard to meet needs, we aim to build beautiful bridges at the same time. All of our other values are contained within the way we set the table. We pray that you will join us at the table too.
This work began in 2004 with the formation an intentional Christian community located in Ybor Heights. In the years that followed, our communities efforts to simply be Christian and love our neighbors led to the establishment of a house church that gathered once a week. This diverse gathering of friends from inside and outside the neighborhood turned out to be rich soil.
It was in those meetings that some, who had resources such as time or money, felt compelled to apply what they were learning. With guidance from a few friends who had been living on the street, The Banquet, our thursday night community dinner was born in 2008. That same year the Lake House community began aggressively opening its doors to those we met at our meals to share our shower, washing machine, couches, etc. Also in 2008, we built and planted the Tampa Eden Project’s first community garden and launched our monthly open mic/potluck known as the Conscious Party.
In 2009, when the Underground moved to 7th avenue, they offered our community a space in the building to open our first Family Room and Free Market. As our community grew in capacity and size and as we encountered other needs we did our best to respond as we could. We met many who found housing in the Good Samaritan Inn and so in 2010 a team of us started our Tuesday night meal that we affectionately call “The Good.”
At this point our hands were more than full and we stayed dedicated to building our community for the following several years as we maintained a growing presence in the Underground’s space.
In 2014 the Well incorporated and leased a building at 3023 N Florida Ave where we operated a house of hospitality for the poor until the end of 2016. While in that space our community built many gardens and installed an aquaponics system where we learned to raise Tilapia and produce. We also planted a bike co-op known as the ReCycle Bin where neighbors without transportation can come to build their own bike. This move also put us into the heart of need in Tampa and we more than quadrupled the number of guests that we were seeing on a daily basis. We have since been approved as a 501C3 non-profit, leased our first house for a pilot housing project, started a lawn business, and developed many wonderful partnerships with schools, churches, grocery stores, restaurants, and others throughout our city.
Since we work with neighbors that are not always wanted or loved we, as a community, have also faced some opposition. Shifting demographics have played a significant role in pressuring our community to move a few times now. While that has often been for upsetting reasons, God has always shown us ways to roll with the punches and continue advancing the mission. Even with some occasional hostility from neighbors that are centrally interested in ‘neighborhood beautification’ at seemingly any cost, we have still built a really solid reputation as a loving and sacrificial community that works very hard and leverages every resource available to our shared vision of meeting needs, and building bridges, to see our city made whole.
Join us in pursuit of this shared vision for Tampa, and work with us to build a better future for all of our neighbors.