Sep 29, 201704:02 PMBlog
40/40: Of ‘faith’ and community
Abigail Vizcarra Perez has a growing presence as the founder of ConnexionTacoma, which is not a church, but rather a community that builds faith of all kinds. She is the first person of hispanic/latinx descent ordained by United Methodist Church’s Pacific Northwest Annual Conference.
Most faith communities are not started by women, especially not women of color, and the connexion movement also is not a mirror of traditional faith groups. It doesn’t have a Sunday morning worship service, as members gather instead for storytelling, hiking, peaceful demonstrations, interfaith rituals and just to celebrate each other.
“I am bursting with pride when I hear people speak about ConnexionTacoma because they tend to speak first of their need,” Abigail says, “and of the ways they feel those needs are met because they are part of the work we are doing.”
This is a pastor self-described as having a girlish voice, piercings and tatoos, and an uncanny ability to speak truth to power. Kind of a “bad-ass nun type” of spiritual leader, and now Abigail Vizcarra Perez is also a “40 Under Forty” honoree.
Nathan Hollifield is also a local pastor, both as founder and convenor of a spiritual community in Tacoma called Create Commons, and as the leader of Fircrest United Methodist Church, a 105-year-old congregation that is undergoing a massive culture change to become truly inclusive as its membership adds more youthful individuals and families.
He is also a board member for 2nd Cycle, a resource on Hilltop that supports bicycles as instruments of personal freedom and social change, especially for kids. And he is a volunteer with Pierce-Kitsap YMCA, as well as active in many other community concerns. Perhaps surprisingly, Nathan began his career working in politics for GOP candidates and even had a job in a Republican White House, about which he is not defensive.
In 2007, Hollifield packed his whole life into a car for the journey from South Carolina to the Pacific Northwest, intentionally displacing himself from everything familiar in search of something within him.
“I am most proud of the ‘vow of stability’ that my partner, Abigail, and I have made to the city of Tacoma,” he shares. They have taken “a vow to live in one place for the entirety of their lives,” committed to break from today’s hyper-mobility that, scholars suggest, leads to a lack of connection to place that produces a consumer mentality, wreaking havoc on the environment and families.
Nathan Hollifield “lay(s) claim to Tacoma as my home … and to commit myself fully to this city, its land and its creatures.” The community will undoubtedly gain from this most remarkable “40 Under Forty” honoree.
Get to meet Abigail and Nathan, plus 38 other remarkable members of 2017’s 40 Under Forty cohort at the celebration of their honors on Wednesday, October 11, at Foss Waterway Seaport in downtown Tacoma. It begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m. and the recognition program will conclude before 8 o’clock. Tickets are available soon at this website.