Letting Go and Saying Goodbye to the Front Porch

Dearest Friends,
 
It’s become clear to me over the past few months of personal discernment that the Front Porch has run its course and given its gift. As has been famously said, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.”
 
We’ve had a great run and a grand adventure in missional ministry over the past decade! We’ve accomplished so much: with hundreds of events in dozens of different venues all over Austin, we’ve connected with so many thoughtful and creative people outside the walls of the church. Be assured, The Front Porch has given All Saints’ and the Diocese of Texas a great reputation in the wider community.
 
I have no doubt that the Front Porch will continue as an idea and brand—as a way of thinking, really. But I believe it’s now time for the vestry and board to officially dissolve the Front Porch as a 501c3 nonprofit. I have a profound appreciation and gratitude for the thousands of great souls who have contributed to and participated in the Front Porch since its 2009 inception (see the bottom of this newsletter for a complete list).
 
By letting go of the Front Porch, I’m freed up to be more focused as a part-time assistant at All Saints’ during All Saints’ interim period. Moreover, letting go of the Front Porch also gives me the chance to serve as the part-time director of development for Interfaith Action of Central Texas (iACT). I’ve also been helping our Fiji neighbors across the street to be more involved in community service; indeed, just before Covid-19, I worked with them to fund and build two new mini-homes for folks who are homeless at the Community First Village.

Stephen Kinney saying bye with a smile

As I begin this new chapter, please know how grateful I am for the chance I’ve had to serve as the director of the Front Porch. It’s been an amazing and fruitful journey!
 
Gratefully yours,
Stephen   

Thanks all who participated in THE EASTER VIGIL on April 11th
with Sam BakerCarrie Elkin, and Danny Schmidt!

CLICK HERE  to see the virtual Easter Vigil on ZoomIn lieu of the 5th Annual Easter Vigil that was scheduled for Sam’s Town Point on April 11th, we hosted a very simple and intimate Zoom conversation with live songs from Sam BakerCarrie Elkin, and Danny Schmidt.We were marking the in-between times: between cross and empty tomb, between fear and courage, silence and word, hate and love, darkness and light, social distancing and getting back together.
A PERSONAL THANK YOU 
Dearest Partners,

I have so many of you to thank for your help and participation on the porch over the years. With the help of each and every one of you, we were able to have a grand adventure together.
 
In the ongoing dialogue on the Front Porch, we found practical faith and compassionate partners in the real world, and one would have a hard time finding a community that has brought together so many different and enriching people from all over Central Texas and beyond. The people who’ve been on the porch constitute a virtual “who’s who” of creative, thoughtful, loving, and beautiful souls.
 We hosted special colloquies with influential thinkers, activists, and artists, including Krista Tippett; Michael Morton; Kirk Watson; Turk Pipkin; Ray Benson; Temple Grandin; James Alison; Pete Rollins; Becca Stevens; Coleman Barks; Carrie Newcomer; Stephen Mills; Bishop Jack Spong; Evan Smith; Ross Ramsey; John Philip Newell; Micky Scott Bey Jones; James Smith; Randy Woodley; Steve Adler, and so many more.We supported other nonprofits and have hosted benefits and events for Slow Food and sustainable agriculture, for women in prison, for the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, for people with disabilities, for military veterans suffering from moral injury, for people who are homeless, for native Americans, for the Deep Dive Artist Cooperative, for Black Lives Matter, for The Hearth Story Tellers, for Interfaith Action of Central Texas, Plant with Purpose, etc. We raised over $20,000 to support school children in Loro Village, Uganda; we’ve hosted conversations on human sexuality, environmental degradation, immigration, healing from toxic political and religious discourse, racial privilege and oppression, LGBTQ prejudice against LGBTQ persons, homelessness and veterans’ issues, bigotry against Muslims, etc.We hosted these programs and events in venues all over Austin: Boggy Creek FarmsThe Victory Grill (thank you Clifford Gillard), All Saints’ Episcopal Church, The North Door, Presbyterian Seminary Chapel, Scholz GartenUniversity of TexasAustin Playhouse, The Brass HouseOpal Divines, Austin Ale HouseSam’s Town PointSt. David’s and Resurrection Episcopal churches, Texas French Bread, etc.We hosted dozens of Austin musicians through our “Unplugged on the Front Porch” and “Pub Church” tracks: Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Benson, Jimmy LaFave, Guy Forsyth, Gina Chavez, Slaid Cleaves, Radney Foster, Israel Nash, Dave Madden, Kevin Russell, Darden Smith, Danny Schmidt, Carrie Elkin, Raina Rose, The Peterson Brothers, Terri Hendrix and Lloyd Maines, Bill Kirchen, Matt the Electrician, Tish Hinojosa, Sara Hickman, Paul Finley,  Sam Baker, Walt and Tina Wilkins, John Pointer, Robert Harrison, Billy Tweedie, Shawnee Kilgore, Drew Pressman, Kalu James, Curtis McMurtry, Ashley Monical, The Flyin’ A’s, Bobby Kallus, Chip Dolan, Noelle Hampton, Justin Stewart, Ali Holder, Will Taylor, Saul Paul, Philip Marshall Trio, David Ansel and the Mazel Tov Cocktail Hour, Mother Falcon, Jimi Calhoun, David Pulkingham, Nelo, Woody Russell, Betty Soo, David McDonald and Steel Betty, Stephen Doster, Andrew Crosby, Ulrich Ellison, Andy Barham, Charlie Pierce, Darrion “ChiTown” Borders, Carter Beckworth, Fran McKendree, Darius Jackson, Serafia Jane, Drastik,  Duane Carter, Suzanna Choffel, Jesse Greendyk and The FoundriesRiders Against the Storm, Magna Carda, Erin Ivey, Wendy Colonna, Chucky Black, Aimee Bobruk, Jeremy Nail, Michael Fracasso, Christine Albert, Ruby Jane, Jimmie Dale and Colin Gilmore, Ley Line, Justin Stewart, Michael Mordecai, Josh Dodds, Michael Fontenot, Stephen Smith, Stan Coppinger, et al.We hosted intimate conversations through Pub Church (with many interviews by NPR’s John Burnett), including Kirk Watson, J. Pittman McGehee, Kristin Neff, Rabbi Neil Blumofe, Lawrence Wright, Stephen Harrigan, Michael Benedikt, William Inboden, Meredith Walker, Corban Addison, Ed Clements, Gregory Eaton, Dave Scheider, David Gaines, Lynn Goodson-Straus, Art Acevedo, Lee Leffingwell, Tom Spencer, Ora Houston, Ariana Brown, Donna Howard, Katherine Lott, Jeremy Schwartz, Andrew O’Brien, Ben Philpott, Johnny Meyer, Caroline Boudreaux, Allison Orr, Valerie Foulks, Larry Speck, Flint Sparks, Jesse Sublett, Jimi Calhoun, Victor Emanuel, Jesse Griffiths, Michael O’Brien, Jared Dunton, Jane Patterson, Tony Baker, Scott Bader-Saye, Steven Tomlinson, David Peters, Art Markman, Chikako Nichols, Muna Husseini, Paul Woodruff, Matson Duncan, John Lee, Bavu Blakes, Frank Richardson, Marla Camp, Chris Searles, Judy Maggio, Simone Talma Flowers, Walter Moreau, Alan Graham, Guner Arslan, Paul Reed, Michael Barnes, Will Coates, Tim Klatt, Gena Davis, Federico Archuleta, Humberto Perez, Carl Settles, Adriene Mishler, Ben Wright, Mike Clawson, JC Shakespeare, Raphael Travis, Glenn Smith, Lize Burr, Doug Jaques, Chris Hyams, Lars Nielson, Randy Jewart,  and so many others.     We held a “Crisis in Music–Austin Edition” symposium with Jazz historian Ted Gioia; panelists–moderated by John Burnett–included Mayor Steve Adler, Harold McMillan, Eve Monsees, John Mills, Will Bridges, Nicole Bogatz, and Jennifer Houlihan.We hosted special events on a vast array of urgent issues and topics, including: spirituality and worldview, human trafficking, reverence and interfaith relations, race relations, apocalyptic thinking and conspiracy theories, youth culture, storytelling and film, politics and pluralism in the public square, death and dying, political division, Confederate statues, scapegoating violence, the nature of compassion and beauty, monological ideologies, etc.; we’ve held Iftar Dinners during Ramadan, hosted four public Easter Vigils, hosted an interfaith Hanukkah service, hosted several “Film Churches”, helped launch the 1st New Story Festival at Huston-Tillotson, and so much more.  
It has been a rich and edifying experience of connecting to the best and brightest of Austin’s culture. Yet none of it would have happened without the love and support of the volunteers, staff and board members who have served The Front Porch since 2009. It goes without saying that The Front Porch has been nothing if not a collaborative community of dedicated souls who have partnered together to bring loving attention to things that matter and to introduce folks to the amazing people who make Austin special. Along the way, we’ve tried to model a way of thinking that is dialogical, not ideological, and as a result, those of us who’ve been on the porch over the years have had the chance to experience real communion with others.My heart overflows with gratitude for the friends and colleagues who helped develop the porch in its earliest days: Jimmy Bartz, Todd Fitzgerald, Frank Richardson, Sherman Beattie, Roy Bellows, Craig Kinney, Pittman McGehee Jr., Trent Tate, Miles Brandon, Patrick Hall, Bert Baetz, John Newton, and many others. Thanksgiving goes out to the Episcopal Diocese of Texas for their early funding support and to Bishop Andy Doyle, who included The Front Porch in one of his books on missional communities. We’ve had an astonishing group of staff members and volunteers: special thanks goes to Patricia Boyce for her founding vision and tireless support (and for her son, Jacob Williamson); for Kelly Koonce, who was such a fine colleague in the early days when we launched “The Sunday Salon” at the Victory Grill; for Tito Kohout, whose unique perspective on culture deepened our programming; for Riley Jackson Webb, who became my spiritual son over the four years we co-created some singular Front Porch events that deepened our community (I miss Riley every day).

We give a huge shout out to volunteers and donors like Will Camfield, Anya Opshinsky, Serena Adlerstein, Blake Naleid, Cam Rogers, Merrill Wade, Kevan and Donna Webb,  Philip Marshall, Stacy Erlich, Liz Williams, Stephen and Robin Edmonds, Gregory Free, Betsy Sammon, Edward Abili, Phil DeFalco and Charlotte Frazier, Jill Walker, Jess Hughes, Sheena Wendt, Mary Jo and Steve O’Neal, Jon Deckard and Iris Davis, Kelly Barnhill, Scott and Susan Baker, Ruth Arbuckle, Dan and Paula Herd, Ramsey Midwood, David Lumpkins, Kevin Schubert, Christian Hawley, Randy Langford, Todd and Diana Maclin, Trey Kiel, Heather Wagner, Josh Tatkin, Jeff Hammond and St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Luci Johnson and Ian Turpin, Catherine and Linda Robb, Clark and Mimi Parris, Robbie Sherfy, Bill and Craig Kinney,  and SO MANY others–especially my dear wife Gwen who was with me every step of the way.I’m humbled with wonder for all who’ve served so faithfully on the Board, and especially for All Saints’ Episcopal Church for their providing office and performance space, volunteers, and financial support. Thank you Mona Myers, Jerry LaPorte, Anita Barrick, Marvin Jones, and many others. The Front Porch simply wouldn’t have happened without the support of All Saints’ former rector, Mike Adams–Mike was a formative influence and made “doing the porch” so much fun. Our board members, former and current, mean more than can be imagined, and they get the last word: Heather and Martin Kohout, Betsy Gerdeman, Terry Heller, John Burnett, Michelle Carlson, David Saenz, Molly Sharpe, Julia Howry, Lucy Nazro, Cindie Brooks, Walt Persons, Neil Blumofe, Billy Tweedie, Tim Klatt, Erin Mesick, Judy Myers, Matt Dow, Mark Winter, Lane Hensley. What a long, strange, and oh so beautiful journey.

With immense gratitude,
Stephen Kinney
The beautiful and amazing Riley Jackson Webb. No doubt about it, he lives on!

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