I've know Evan for over the past three years and his story is one of inspiration and great faith. Leading a number of others from the Bow Valley Christian Church in NW Calgary, they made the intentional and brave move to build and begin living in mission amidst the Mahogany community on the outskirts of SE Calgary.
Since being there he has become deeply involved with the volunteer community of their neighbourhood and given great time to developing some amazing relationships with his neighbours and other community leaders in the city. Without hesitation, I can say that Evan Spencer is a vital leader in his neighbourhood and a community builder who inspires wonder in all of his relationships with others.
It was a beautiful sunny day that we had the opportunity to sit under the pergola of the Mahogany wetlands while exploring some of the stories and experiences he has had since moving to the Land Of The Mahoganites; a term he quoted in a video he filmed early August this past year.
The term Mahoganites is not the only language to which has been shaped by this little community in SE Calgary. While conversing with Evan he shared with me other terms like "the Good Life" and the struggles between being a "destination hiker" and what we could both only call "a witness to beauty along the journey".
The Good Life, its a term which alone can have many meanings but, to the Mahoganite, this is a term and way of life that encourages people to knock on their neighbours door, get involved in the lives of those who are on your block, give time and resources to the beautification and growth of your neighbourhood, and the expectation or desire for something more in life, something that inspires transformation and the pursuit of that which brings goodness to not only yourself, but also your neighbours and your city. With this kind of value leading neighbourhood life, I couldn't help but think the Good Life is something every community needs and should be pursuing.
As a confessed "destination hiker", Evan opens up how he tends to want to "know the plan" so that he can "execute it" and follow it to the expected conclusion of success. But while living in Mahogany, Evan has learned that success in neighbourhood is not found at the end of the journey, but rather in recognizing its beauty and presence while responding to what God brings in front of the community here and now. Being a witness to the beauty in neighbourhood life is as I shared the quote from Cathrine of Siena, recognizing that "all the way to heaven is heaven."
I hope you might enjoy this podcast with Evan as much as I did while sitting with him next to some neighbourhood kids who joined in on the fun!