Dale Shaw is the kind of man who loves every person that he meets. Genuinely warm and humble, he embodies the ideal of a man of faith. A member of College Park Church since its first service on March 3, 1985, Dale is quick to point out that he was also the first person disciplined by the church. Back in 1986, he suffered from a drinking problem when the church stepped in. He says, “The church walked with me and they put [me] under this kind of restorative discipline, keeping me accountable and asking me hard questions. And then, 14 years later, the same church that disciplined me hired me to be a pastor.”
Currently, Dale serves as College Park’s Pastor of Local Outreach. He believes the church’s character is encapsulated by this transition: the church saw him through his worst moments, eventually coming to trust him in a leadership role. His incredulity at such compassion is clear as he says, “I’m kind of the poster child for the extravagant grace of College Park Church. Foremost sinner … becoming a pastor on staff.”
He goes on to tell the story of College Park’s relationship with the Legal Clinic, which goes back to the Clinic’s inception. Dale says, “Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic is a great venue to help us with that voice of the Gospel that is included in Micah 6:8.” Over the years, College Park has eschewed a more institutional relationship between the two, and instead focuses on building better connections between their congregation and the Clinic’s staff. Early on, Dale says, “The Clinic played a really helpful role for us as a church when we had a Hispanic pastor … who had actually come into the United States across the Rio Grande.” He tells how the Legal Clinic helped the pastor adjust to Legal Permanent Resident status, saying, “[The Clinic established] this man’s credibility in terms of him being so much more confident to walk around without looking over his shoulder.” And just this past year, the Clinic was able to help him become a citizen of the United States.
Since those first days, the bond between the Clinic and College Park has only strengthened. The beauty and effectiveness of this relationship is perhaps most keenly evinced by our collaboration on Refugee Adjustment Day, when the Clinic and College Park come together at the end of April to assist dozens of refugees in obtaining their green cards. These kinds of works are a natural consequence of the Body of Christ partnering with one another. Dale explains, “You do life together under the umbrella of the Gospel and really good things happen.”
As he sees it, College Park is a community of believers attempting to follow Christ and connect with and serve the rest of their community—more an agent of justice than its arbiter. Dale states, “The Church is the beautiful mess. It’s beautiful because there are all kinds of beautiful things happening, and yet it’s messy because it involves fallen human beings. And so when you really see the church as the beautiful mess … you don’t get put on a pedestal. You go down to the cross and get on your knees.”
For more information about College Park Church, please visit their website at http://www.yourchurch.com/