We are a 360-degree human development corporation. Through our projects and initiatives, we intend to provide experiences, tools and projects to develop spiritual, mental, physical and vocational wellness.
We believe in God the Father, Jesus Christ and The Holy Spirit; and that the best way to honor the triune God is to fully develop one’s talents and skills. The work of our movement is to excavate the divine power we all have to leave a mark on the world through our uniqueness, gifting, hard work, and personal experiences. We are a foolish enough to believe that we can worship God every day of the week through our relationships, skills and gifts.
In 2005, we were perplexed by the disconnect between what people aged 18-35 were experiencing in their spiritual lives and what was happening for them socially, professionally, etc. Young people in Houston were living these compartmentalized lives, with a set of friends and behavior for each category.
Led by Marlon Hall, we conducted an anthropological study of young people in Houston. A street team of participant observers went to clubs, bars, malls, movie theaters, etc. to observe our culture.
- The Anthropological Study yielded the following truths:
- 1. Young people were looking for a community that taught spiritual truths using culturally relevant language.
- 2. They are looking for meaningful opportunities to serve the city,
- 3. They want to be equipped vocationally.
September 11, 2005, Awakenings, Inc. was born. We became known as The Awakenings Movement, a nomadic movement that met every Sunday in unconventional spaces. We meet in non-traditional settings is to communicate that the church is a people, not a building. We began at the Rhinehart Auditorium at Texas Southern University. Then our community helped to renovate what is now The Breakfast Klub’s ‘Kross The Street Annex. We then moved to Drexler’s BBQ. As we moved from space to space, we invested our financial resources and sweat equity to increase the value of the building as well as our social capital into the support and growth of the business.
In 2008, we developed a partnership with Project Row Houses. From 2008-2010, we helped to renovate the Eldorado Ballroom with over $10,000 and 20,000+ man hours, stripping, sanding and painting the floors of the ballroom and lower level, building a stage, and renovating The Bastrop House. For two years, we leased and improved the Eldorado Ballroom campus, aligned our organizational programming to honor the mission and work Project Row Houses and brought thousands of our community members to tour the exhibitions at Project Row Houses.In all of our efforts to become a relevant worshipping community with meaningful service opportunities and teaching that was enriching beyond Sunday, we got comfortable. The Eldorado Ballroom had become redefined as a sanctuary, and transformation was slowing. We decided to turn our entire organization inside out to provide a context for what it meant to live a divinely purposeful life. Each Sunday was a different location, and played a different role in human development.
In all of our efforts to become a relevant worshipping community with meaningful service opportunities and teaching that was enriching beyond Sunday, we got comfortable. The Eldorado Ballroom had become redefined as a sanctuary, and transformation was slowing. We decided to turn our entire organization inside out to provide a context for what it meant to live a divinely purposeful life. Each Sunday was a different location, and played a different role in human development.
- 1st Sundays at Warehouse Live gathered 200-500 people each week. This experience was part concert, part spiritual teaching at one of Houston’s most reputable music venues.
- 2nd Sundays we turned our worship service into a service of worship. We partnered with community organizations to finish service projects in the city. The first was the completion of the Ecotone Community Garden, one of the first community gardens made available to a community without fresh produce for 35 blocks.
- 3rd Sundays we met at Midtown Lounge, a local bar and lounge. The design of this Sunday was a multi-sensory, interdisciplinary approach to spiritual teaching, and honored individual learning styles through medium sized groups and workshop sessions.
- 4th Sundays eight small groups met in homes around the city. After a petite teaching moment led by a team of volunteer staff, the group would practically apply what we learned through outings and meals together.
In 2011, we decided to turn our organization inside out. In addition to a weekly gathering intended for spiritual development, we poured our resources, human capital and relationships into projects that provided more. Instead of an emotionally moving Sunday gathering, we decided to equip people to live their dreams every day of the week in a way that was generous and generative. Doing so sifted the thousands who drifted in and out of our community into a dedicated, concentrated group of 50-75 innovators. The projects we have given our lives to have enriched the culture of our city.
BOARDThe Counsel Board of Directors
- Marlon F. Hall is a storyteller who uses photography, anthropology, filmmaking and writing to share stories of love, imagination and passion. In addition to creating films through Folklore Films, he is the cultural architect and spiritual leader of The Awakenings Movement, a grassroots community of social visionaries and culture shapers in Houston, Detroit and Nairobi. Hall serves on the faculty of Leadership Education at Duke University’s Foundations of Christian Leadership and Denominational Leadership courses. He has produced films for these programs and advises on issues of innovation and culture making.
- Danielle Fanfair is academically trained as a journalist, and enjoys lending her gifts for research, story telling and strategy to equip humans to live their dreams and reach their fullest potential. She is currently serving as Community Architect of the Awakenings Movement and Producer of Folklore Films. Fanfair also serves with Marlon Hall as a strategic consultant, producer and workshop facilitator for national organizations, institutions and corporations.
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