Jared Witt | March 20, 2020
Hey Castle Churchers,
I am honored and humbled that many of you consider me the primary spiritual teacher of this community. But if I may, allow me to make a case for our brewhouse assistant, bartender, and resident fitness drill sergeant, Brynn Lovato.
Yesterday afternoon, as I sat at an empty bar, laptop open, in the throes of anxiety over this 30 day ban on bars and restaurants wondering how we are going to get through it, Brynn dropped a bit of wisdom on me. She reminded me of her journey with Castle Church, from part time bartender less than a year and a half ago to becoming something like the pumping lungs of this body.
Brynn’s interview with us took place a month prior to the completion of our buildout, unused drywall leaned up against the unwindowed framework of the nursery room and dust everywhere. She knew that we weren’t going to be able to offer her the full time bartending hours she might’ve preferred right away. Instead of complaining when she wasn’t on bar, she just grabbed a squeegee and a toilet brush and started scrubbing the place down. We couldn’t afford a professional cleaning service, so who were we to tell her no? When she ran out of things to clean, we found her in the brewhouse giving Ed Ruble some desperately needed assistance slinging kegs around from here to there. When he couldn’t find enough manual labor for her back there, she started teaching herself the always problematic operating system on the keg washer until her skill set became indispensable, and Ed figured he’d teach her to do yeast cell counts and gravity readings as well. When management was drowning in administrative work late last year, I remembered her background as a bookkeeper from her résumé. She didn’t hesitate.
And all of that fails to describe her greatest value to this community, the spirit and energy she brings to this place. Much of our Saturday morning business is driven by regulars who don’t want to miss a weekend yucking it up on Brynn’s bar shift. Steadily she’s grown the Castle Church run club into one of our warmest and most enriching informal groups. We’ve not asked her to invest her time in that, and it’s not on the clock. She just came up with it one day because she loves this community and gets what we’re about. And one day soon, we will be introducing “Brynn’s Batches”: a special secondary brand line of exploratory hand batch beers, which will not only give some more fun and color to our tap lineup, but will allow her to hone her skills as a brewer, if that is her ambition.
Somewhere in the header of virtually all the new hire paperwork, we have written something about how we value “Jesus-like servant-leadership,” which I define as toweling up and washing feet regardless of institutional position—a reminder to myself as much as to the new hires. And here we were preaching that to someone who got servant leadership natively. I’ve been instructed time and again, while watching her, that I still have much to learn.
As a safe place for people who haven’t found a home in conventional religious institutions, we specifically did not want to just hire staff who professed to be Christian with their words. Instead, we sought people who would be Jesus-like with their actions. Brynn is one of those who has rewarded that decision a thousand times over.
As I massaged my temples over my keyboard yesterday, blank Word doc on one tab, full inbox on the other, she slid me a Brut IPA.
“You know,” she said, “this job wasn’t what I expected it to be” (she thought she would be getting a full time bartending position). “But I decided to go all in. I put my head down and worked hard. And now, somehow, it’s become better than anything I ever expected. And you know I’m not someone who always says that things happen the way they do because of…” (she stopped short of saying “God”) “But I feel like there’s been, like, this weird goodness moving things along. Otherwise, I can’t explain them working out the way they have.”
Holding back tears, I thought of all the countless times that threads of blessing have continued to just sort of work their way into the warp and woof of my own life in spite of my chronic and persistent efforts to snare and fray them. I thought of a dozen and one little miracles, without which Castle Church would not even be here. I told her that “this weird goodness” is one of the most apt descriptions I can think of for how I’ve experienced God in my life.
For every good thing I can say for Brynn’s ethic of servant leadership, I could do the same for Chris, Ed, Kent, Daniel, and so many more of these amazing people who have gotten us to this point.
We should all be concerned for those most directly impacted by this virus, especially those who are grieving loved ones. But equally at the front of my mind is the wellbeing of these staff people who, at every step, have gone well above and beyond what we’ve asked of them and to whom we now have responsibility.
I understand that these are strange times, and there is going to be negative fall out that is unavoidable. But in an industry where many of our colleagues around the country have already let go of half their staff this week, I will not allow these outstanding people to pay the cost for the position we’re in right now. Ours are not just staff. They are part of the Castle Church family.
Here is what I am asking throughout this bumpy month:
1) Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have the means, and you would consider a one time, short-term, low interest personal loan. These will get priority on pay back if and when any government assistance comes through, but that will inevitably take longer than we can spare to turn around.
2) If you’re fortunate enough that your income has not been effected by the coronavirus outbreak, please consider a special one-time emergency relief gift on top of your normal giving.
3) Thank you to all of you who have come in to buy your take home beer from the tap room. You wouldn’t believe what a difference those purchases make right now. Keep up the good drinking!
Cheers and Peace,
A blog that is too churchy for your drinking buddies and too drinky for your churching buddies.