volume five number three becoming
whole summer 2013
jesus our relationship is in a rut.
all the calls that need returning, the miles that need driving.
i fall on my knees and move through a son salutation because i have no choice but to praise you with every muscle and movement
we are called to love our neighbor and our neighbor is everyone. billions. Maybe I should become luddite just so there are fewer neighbors to care for.
but then you appear in the silence of breath and help me to my feet.
so after spending every emotion after lending every thread after crying every tear
i am still and i know who you are and i begin to know who i am and it is good. my cells pulse with the knowing i’m inspired i am i make lists of ways to show you, crossing off as i go. it’s a really good list. others can’t help but to admire me. i am humble; i’d like to think: genuine because i don’t do these things for glory (snide aside)—unless it is yours. i do these things, go without, give away, show up, stand up, sit in, invest, divest for you. and i’m the one who is blessed. this great faithfulness metric is relentless. no sabbath taking can sustain me, what with all the peace that needs making, all the chains that need breaking,
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i fall into that rut on my knees begging my savior to save me again i am not an empty cup that needs filling. i have no skin to contain this grace that you would pour into me. again you graft me back into being, help me to stand. these new cells beat the drum and again and again. my gratitude and my blessed assurance lead me. my vision and my righteousness comfort me. but what of my soul? someday jesus someday in the stillness after the grafting and the gracing and the i am-ing, i will wait one beat longer and know: the steadfast love cares not at all what i do. the steadfast love cares that i am. CONSPIRE \\ 3
volume 5 number 3 // summer 2013 features
8 Loom of the Spirit
Conspire editors “Our tenuous and fragile journey toward integration of mind, body, and soul is the deepest spiritual work of our lives.”
29 The Thin Skin of Things Ann Voskamp “I thought we’d defy time, that they’d grow up and stay little, that we’d have our cake and eat it too.”
50 Trust the Stream
Gordon Cosby “A stream flows through our lives from eternity to eternity, and it bears everything we need.”
14 The Art of Redemption Jan Richardson “In God’s economy, nothing is wasted— the broken as well as the beautiful, the torn as well as the whole.”
Brandon Rhodes “Christian community offers us connection; it re-localizes and re-integrates our lives.”
25 Six Conversations to Change the World
Peter Block “We cannot build community if we don’t change our questions.”
Katie Jo Brotherton “I live small because I truly believe the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed.”
34 Tell Me
Howard Pinder “God doesn’t just desire for us to open up to God, but to each other.”
36 Why I QuiT White Church
Calenthia S. Dowdy “I realized that the only way I could become whole was to leave. So I did. No one seemed to notice.”
41 A World of Gates 20 Automobility and Its Antidotes
72 The Healing That Comes
60 Breathing together: I Believe in Seeds
10 Be Whole
Will O’Brien “The paradigm of wholeness offers a fresh way to envision discipleship in the fallenness around us.”
Janell Anema and Dani Scoville “Our twenty-something generation struggles to find ourselves vocationally, geographically, and relationally in a highly connected, hyper-mobile world.”
53 Spiritual Revolution
Richard Rohr “We must begin with a fundamental ‘yes!’ to what lies in front of us.”
56 Quiet Old Women
Teresa Ginsberg “While I prayed for the Superman of Christian heroism to come knocking, I stumbled on a group of elderly ladies who had been overlooked by everyone for the longest time.”
62 Reviews Books to reweave fragmented lives.
66 Notes From Scattered Pilgrims
News and photos from our conspiring communities.
44 Wealth and Worry
Heather Bargeron “We buy into the idea of a world of scarcity, and it makes us anxious.”
Find more stories and a study guide for this issue at conspiremag.com You’ll love our blog of word and image!
Loom of the Spirit You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind, and all your strength … and love your neighbor as yourself. —Matthew 12:30
This, Jesus tells us, is the great commandment, and it is premised on loving God and neighbor with our whole selves. Which seems to depend on being whole ourselves. But these are ancient words that echo down to a very modern time, and there are many ways in which our lives are fragmented. Many of us are highly mobile. After generations of family, work, and social lives rooted in a specific geographic place, our lives happen over many places, and our family and community structure are dispersed. The ubiquity of technology can keep us in touch, but also keep us distracted. We struggle to live spiritually centered lives as we raise children or work to survive in a world of economic uncertainty. Some of us move between worlds that don’t understand one another, separated by race, culture, age. We yearn for lives that bring our disparate parts together. The leper came to Jesus. “If you wish, Lord, you can make me whole.” How shall we be made whole, God? In this issue of Conspire, we explore aspects of wholeness. How do we deepen our spiritual core in a distracting and fragmented world? How do we live without anxiety? How might we build community and live well in a world whose
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technologies of transportation and communication are spinning it wide open and connecting us at the same time? How do we take the scraps and leavings in our lives and make beautiful art with them? Here are testimonies from people who had to leave certain situations to become whole, or learn to embrace change, even when it meant losing the ones they most love. Every article and every situation is different, but all of them ponder this question: Jesus, can you make me more whole? It never comes as a single, quick touch dispensed by the healer. It demands more of us than that: careful looking, some choosing and some taking away. It is a balance, and the ground under us is always shifting. We move our feet, search for a different way of finding our center in the stream of grace which is this world. In the lines that close his poem, “Marriage,” Wendell Berry writes: I break from you, I turn to you. We hurt, and are hurt, and have each other for healing. It is healing. It is never whole. His words also describe the tenuous and fragile balance of our journey toward wholeness—arguably the deep spiritual work of our lives. “So teach us to number our days that we may present to you a heart of wisdom,” prays the psalmist (90:12). That prayer betrays a great irony: the wisdom of wholeness is learned in parts. Each day comes to us, and each day we open ourselves to the possibility and promise that the Spirit has the power to weave us whole. —The Editors
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the art of redemption artwork and article by Jan Richardson
In one of my earliest memories, I am perhaps five years old, standing in my parents’ bedroom with a stack of my artwork: drawings in pencil and crayon, paintings in tempera and watercolor and finger paint. These are the pieces my mother has gathered up and saved. All of them. I am systematically tearing up each one. By the time I have made it nearly to the bottom of the stack, my mother walks in. Horrified to see the pile of shredded paper, she asks me why I have done this. “Because they weren’t any good!” I tell her, amazed that she can’t see this for herself. I don’t know where I got this idea. It did not originate at home, where my family valued and supported creativity. Call it a precocious inner critic. It would be many years before I began to understand myself as an artist, to connect with and claim that
part of my soul. I long thought that an artist was someone who could draw or paint well, and although I made forays into these media from time to time, I still carried with me that inner critic who had shown up so early in my life. Just as I was about to graduate from seminary, I started seriously playing with paper and was transformed. In the process of cutting and tearing and pasting—those basic skills I had picked up in kindergarten—something magical happened that did not depend on painting or drawing. I had found my medium. In the practice of collage, I discovered a path to a place where it became harder to hear the voice of my interior critic. That path eventually led me to become the artist in residence at a Catholic retreat center, where a Franciscan friar named David opened the door for me to create a ministry
Finding the Focus, painted paper collage 8 // CONSPIRE
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Testimony painted paper collage
Love and Revelation painted paper collage
that brought all the pieces of my vocation together. As I worked with David in the studio one day, he asked me, “Where did your fascination with paper come from?” The longforgotten memory of the five-year-old who shredded her artwork suddenly resurfaced. I told David that story, and then said that perhaps becoming a collage artist was my way of putting those pieces back together. As I moved deeper into my artist soul, I came to experience paper collage as a spiritual practice—a form of prayer—and as a metaphor for the creative work that God does in my own life. In much the way that I sit at my drafting table and piece together
scraps to create something new, God does the same within me. God takes everything: experiences, stories, memories, relationships, dreams, prayers— all those pieces, light and dark, rough and smooth, straight and torn—and creates something beautiful. I’ve learned to think of God as the consummate recycler. In God’s economy, nothing is wasted. The broken as well as the beautiful, the torn as well as the whole, the pieces that we treasure as well as those we might prefer to throw away or forget: everything—everything—can be used. Transformed. Redeemed. This image of the God who reclaims and redeems lies at the heart
right: Born of Water, Born of Spirit, painted paper collage 10 // CONSPIRE
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redemption by repenting—acknowledging how we, by our own actions, have perpetuated the brokenness of the world—we cannot achieve our redemption and wholeness all by ourselves. These parables remind us that redemption is always God’s work; God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We turn ourselves Godward. (The act of turning lies at the Greek root of the word for repentance, metanoia.) We pray that in our turning, we will— like a sheep, like a coin, like a wayward child—be unlost. Be unhidden. Be found. Redemption does not and cannot happen in isolation. Redemption restores us to the community and continually challenges us to work toward the flourishing of those whose lives are bound together with ours. Yet while God continually pulls us toward community, redemption is not about conformity. Being restored to Magnificat painted paper collage
of Jesus’ teaching. Telling parables was Jesus’ artful way of putting pieces together, of taking everyday experiences, juxtaposing them in new ways, and revealing patterns of hope and possibility. Many of his parables revolve around wholeness: the search for the lost sheep; the lost coin; the pearl, found; the prodigal returned. Jesus provides vivid images that depict 12 // CONSPIRE
God’s penchant for searching out what is lost in order to reclaim it and restore it to wholeness. For those of us who live in a culture devoted to rugged individualism, with its emphasis on pulling oneself up by one’s bootstraps and making our way in the world by relying on our own resources, these parables pose a challenge. While they remind us that God calls us to participate in our own
the circle does not mean thinking or acting or looking like everyone else. Repentance and redemption invite us instead to discern what we have to offer; what distinctive gifts God has placed within us to join with those of others and transform the brokenness of the world into a pattern of beauty. And when what is broken and lost is restored and redeemed—it is worth a celebration. In fact, our restoration is not complete until some rejoicing gets under way. So where do you see restoration happening within the landscape of your own life? Are there scraps of your story that you have buried or let slip away which God might treasure and yearn to incorporate into a more complete picture of your life? How might the act of celebrating—noticing where pieces are coming together and rejoicing in this, even in the midst of ongoing brokenness—be part of your journey toward wholeness?
Jan Richardson is an artist, writer, and ordained minister in the United Methodist Church, intertwining word and image, Jan’s work has attracted an international audience, drawn to the imaginative spaces that she creates in her books, online blogs, and public events. See more of her inspirational work at www.janrichardson.com.
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Why I Quit White Church by Calenthia S. Dowdy photographs by Kara Emily Krantz
“When it comes to black people, white Christians are the most dangerous people on the planet.” This brutally honest comment was from a black male friend who was challenging my enthusiastic over-involvement with a white church I’d recently joined. It echoed both the historical perspective of the white Christian church’s long complicity with slavery, and his own presentday, negative experiences with white groups. He went on: “They will hurt you and never acknowledge your pain as derivative of them.” I rolled my eyes and sighed, dismissing him as another angry brother. Today I know that my friend was caring for me by speaking a truth that 14 // CONSPIRE
I didn’t understand and couldn’t hear at the time. A post-soul baby, I came of age years after the civil rights movement. I was the seed of the promise—the gains of the movement would benefit my peers and me, both black and white. Laws were enacted, racism was solved, people would get along, and institutions would change. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, held up a vision of a Beloved Community where justice, peace, and harmony reigned and where “our loyalties transcended our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation.” These stories from my elders planted seeds within my heart. I committed myself to what we later called racial reconciliation and full
racial integration of God’s church. During college and seminary, churches that articulated a commitment to racial justice and healing attracted me. (These were usually white churches). I joined a few that were predominately white, often with one to three black people or an Asian or Latino
person attending. I guessed that was “good enough diversity.” After some leadership roles, some disagreements, and even a few encouraging events, the words of my friend came to pass in my own life. Slowly, surely, and completely obliviously, those white churches nearly destroyed me. It began with simple eye rolling when I reminded my (white, church) community that we had a commitment to diversity which we didn’t seem to be honoring. Lips tightened. It became a strain when I was the sole voice reminding the group of its commitment to including people of color. Were we serious, or did we just like how radical those words looked on paper? I suggested integrating worship music as a step to attract non-white members, and one of the white, male worship leaders pushed back. “But we like our music the way it is.” This became a theme which began to resonate over and over. “We like our _______ the way it is.” It became clear that I was included only if I quietly blended into their extant ways of doing. If I, in all my blackness, became invisible, everyone was happy. Except me. Lines from Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) pounded in my head. “I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my
surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.” Uncertainty, subtle anger, and depression began to creep in, and I felt my humanity and tolerance eroding. Whenever I tried to talk to anyone about my concerns and how they might be addressed, I felt dismissed. I was told to see a therapist for my personal problems. Rumors circulated that I had anger issues; that I couldn’t be a team player. I was angry— because of a church community which was suffocating my voice and making me invisible. After many futile attempts at reaching out, I realized that the only way I could become whole was to leave. So I quietly left in search of healing. No one seemed to notice I was gone. No one ever reached out with a call or email to say “Hi, where are you? We miss you. We care about you.” I felt they affirmed my invisibility. I remembered other prophetic words from Ellison: “I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now, I’ve tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied.” Even now, decades later, it is difficult to put words to the pain, especially words majority people might understand. But this was clear: when I was invited into those white churches, they only wanted my black body as a symbol of integration. They did not want my mind, my opinions, or my human complexities, which were so often quite different from their CONSPIRE \\ 15
own. There was no value of me as a full, contributing person, particularly one who might occasionally rock the boat with a different worldview. They wanted to see me, but they didn’t want to hear from me. Whenever I brought up a varied reality, especially a diverse viewpoint which might make the white majority uncomfortable, I was quickly shot down. Of course, there was no secret meeting where everybody agreed to do this. It was probably quite unintentional and reactive, but that only made it more hurtful than if it had been conscious and overt. I was being iced, shut down, and silenced out of my own church. For me, healing meant staying away from the source of my pain. That source was white church. Ironically, it was especially white, progressive churches, many of whom
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believed themselves to be “beyond racism.” I didn’t hate white people, but I was very wary of the power of unexamined white group-think and theological framing. Even though white people generally don’t realize it, most white people understand themselves as “normal;” the standard for other people to live up to. For example, white Christians tend to view their biblical interpretations as objectively correct while they view other, divergent interpretations as subjective—emotional, biased by social location, or even wrong. This assumed power of rightness pervading all areas of life is blinding and dangerous. Because it is blinding, the so-called “good white folk” often don’t see it. Like most other institutions, our churches have framed theology in ways that made (largely white)
perspectives the dominant standard while vilifying dissenters. I was a dissenter. I wanted racial justice in our church—and it appeared I was the only one who truly did. Why were my progressive white sisters and brothers lukewarm? Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., expressed similar frustrations in his letter from the Birmingham jail, fifty years ago: “I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a negative
peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action;’ who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” Dr. King nailed it. Outright rejection would have been better. I quit white church and joined a Christian multi-ethnic team of antiracism educators. I looked forward to every encounter with them. They took
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me in and helped me feel sane and whole again. I learned that my pain was not exclusive to me; many of us expressed similar issues with progressive white churches. We listened to one another, shared stories, and shared power. If people of color felt decisions worked against us in some way that white people in the group could not see or understand, they had veto-power. We also made a lot of mistakes, but we stayed at the table with white allies because we were committed to the hard work of real shared culture and power. White anti-racist team members helped me see that all white people were not blind to systemic racism. Some people actually “got it” and committed their lives to resisting and
changing institutions. Not all white people desired only my presence as a symbol of integration; some actually valued my voice and insight. Here, I was not invisible. For years, this multi-ethnic group of people became my church. They breathed life into me, eased my hurt, and helped me regain compassion and a bit of zeal for Dr. King’s vision of the Beloved Community. Yet I’m still healing. I have not been able to join another white church. Truthfully, I don’t want to. I’m holding out, dreaming of that just and harmonious Beloved Community where all people are able to transcend their loyalties to their race, their tribe, their class, and their nation.
The Thin Skin of Things photographs and writing by Anne Voskamp
Calenthia S. Dowdy is a professor of cultural anthropology and global youth studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania.
Kara Emily Krantz is a traveler, lover, beautyseeker, photographer and poetess. She hails from Sturbridge, MA, but seeks home wherever she goes, drawing out moments from the earth and inspiring them to come alive.
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It was dusk, and my children were making bubbles out on the lawn. As if you can lift the thin skin of things, or wait for the space between stillness and wind, and rise. Malakai, he wears faded jeans two inches too short, hem skimming the milky whites of his ankles. Like the kid just escaped from some flood plain, some dike country. Like his mother can never keep up. The kid looks like a ragamuffin stuffed on grace. Shalom wears turquoise socks on the lawn, shoes never occurring anywhere in her blooming mind. The roasting pan they’re slapping the bubble sluice around in is the one Oma Voskamp left me, all gleamy steel, to baste turkeys in. But who needs meat and bone when you can gnaw on the sheer sheen of light? Kai’s bare toes look like an invitation. I used to cup that bare heel of his, the way it dangled when he kept swallowing the leaking milk down. I thought they’d be little and here forever. I thought there’d always be sand and Tonkas and footed pajamas; always a place at the table and their shoes at the back door. I thought there’d always be stacks of picture books and read-alouds, and Legos everywhere. I thought we’d defy time, that they’d grow up and stay little, that 20 // CONSPIRE
we’d have our cake and eat it too— and we’d have it all. Shalom runs to catch one wobbly bubble, holding her hands out, as if one can hold on to hallowed skins. “Don’t crush it, Shalom!” Kai yells. “Let it go! ” You don’t get to keep. You get to witness. Shalom laughs as it rises. You don’t get always. You get awe. “See it, Kai? See it?” She can’t stop clapping. If you don’t take it all as gift, you end up taking it all for granted— which amounts to not taking anything good from life at all. They stay out late, until the turkey roasting pan has no bubble-feast left, and I can’t leave the watching. There’s soup for supper, and a disaster of dishes all over the counter. Caleb gives us the Coles-notes version of Austrian versus Keynesian economics, and why Margaret Thatcher wasn’t truly libertarian. Levi asks if the soil temperature is ready for planting beans yet, and Kai negotiates for Copper Marans hens because he’ll feed and water them everyday, promise. Shalom’s drinking soup out of her bowl like a cup, evening light spilling all down her. Somewhere on that messy counter, the phone rings. And we stop, all of us stop and listen, the answer machine
recording. “This is admissions from Trinity Western University.” Her voice is high and chirpy, and what is that lump low in my throat? “We were wondering if we might set up an appointment to speak to Caleb about his scholarship and possible acceptance?” And I shake my head no. No. No we cannot set up an appointment to talk about our farm boy with a cow-lick and big dreams driving thirty-six hundred miles across the span of a whole country, leaving us and here. No, no, I’m not ready for now to be over, for the kid who wore a tool belt strapped around him everywhere to leave, the boy who can drive a tractor and wrestle hogs and reads Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations just for fun. He drove me crazy. He drove me to God. He drove me to love.
You can’t sever the sinews of a family—the way the grass under the swing wears bare, and the doors slam, and sharing butter-dripping corn-onthe-cob on the porch all get into you. We wind around each other so that maybe we never leave each other, only carry one other. I look down to the end of the table. The oldest son, he’s looking at his Dad and me, and his dad nodding yes. The boy, he’s seventeen and he’s towheaded and seven all over again. I’m watching the way a bubble lingers and lifts, and he looks me in the eye, asking without words. My chin trembles, fragile, as the words push brave around that lump: “Isn’t that what Dr. Seuss said? ‘Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.’ ” And I laugh, brave. And the boy nods, brave. CONSPIRE \\ 21
And every milestone moment always forks and you get to choose which road you’ll go—bitter or blessed. And the Happening People smile because it happened at all. “Dr. Seuss said really that?” Hope pours a cup of water, looks over at her grinning, brimming mama. “I know what else he said!” Shalom pushes back her chair, already running, then singsonging her Dr. Suess’s ABC Book back to the table: “A, a, a, What begins with A?” And I can close my eyes. “Aunt Annie’s Alligator, A, a, a.” It comes back: all the years; all the laps and all their heads on shoulders, eyelashes dozing off. “Big B, Little b, what begins with B? Barber, baby, bubbles, and a bumblebee.” 22 // CONSPIRE
“You remember the whole book, Mama?” Shalom leans across the table, book in hand and big-eyed. I can see the page and how they each felt close, pressing in: “Big V, little v, Vera Violet Vinn is very very, very, awful on her violin. “W...w...w...Willy Waterloo washes Warren Wiggins who is washing Waldo Woo.” Shalom laughs giddy, and I look around the table at the sheen on now: all these faces, the hallowed skin of them rising. How was there any of this at all? I witness each of them, nod at the lanky boy at the end of the table, at time and the passing of a season, at the thinness of everything drifting, and how life just keeps meaning change.
Don’t grieve that it’s gone, wonder that it was. Laugh that you lived and dance that you dared. Inhale that it happened—and it was grace. I memorize the light and the mess of us; the ABCs of living; and them all
here, right now. This is how to make the smallest life big and grand. The best way to prepare for what’s ahead is to be present to what is now. And just then, the sheer sheen of grace on everything lights.
Ann Voskamp is a farmer’s wife, homeschooling mama to six, and author of One Thousand Gifts: Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are. She blogs daily at www.annvoskamp.com.
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Notes from Scattered Pilgrims: News from our Conspiring Communities
Folks from Detroit Villages touring a community garden tended by Rutba House and friends.
Conspire is sustained by communities and groups. Here, our coconspirators share what’s happening, from new kids to a new world; from the mundane to the inspiring. For contact information and description of each community’s mission and activities, go to www.conspiremag.com. While there, join our conspiracy of goodness! Alternative Seminary Philadelphia, PA
We are excited to be a cosponsor of the Carnivale de Resistance, a travelling circus/theater/revolution that takes off this fall. See www.carnivalederesistance. com for more information. www.alternativeseminary.net Castanea Nashville, TN The Castanea Community is working hard renovating the town’s best crack apartments into incredible eco-homes for ourselves and neighbors who need healthy, affordable housing. Look up Castanea on Facebook to follow what’s going on. www.castanea.org Chicago Catholic Worker Chicago, IL We are raising awareness about the Hunger Strike at Guantanamo Bay Prison by hosting roundtables, vigils, 24 // CONSPIRE
and rallies. Learn more at witnesstorture.org. The Monee farm is growing a lot of radishes, kale, collards, and lettuces. Emmaus House is rehabbing a new home in Lawndale, and the White Rose City house has welcomed two new members! We are looking forward to community picnics and camping trips to the farm. Come visit! Common Change Oakland, CA CommonChange.com is a web tool that connects people and their resources to people with needs in their lives. As we continue to increase our user base, we are looking for more tech developers. If you or anyone you know is interested in putting your technical skills to work while making a serious change in the world, contact ben@ commonchange.com. www.commonchange.com
Detroit Villages Detroit, MI Another summer community among adult staffers has formed. We are also in a new house that we’ll be keeping in the fall as a tool for welcoming new folks to the Motor City. The Mission is a new, Sunday-night worship gathering for volunteers and villagers from across Detroit. Plus, we’re starting into our second year of the Academy for Missional Wisdom. We loved our time visiting Rutba House a few months ago! www.detroitvillages.org
Hyaets Community Charlotte, NC Hyaets is doing a little farming now, with the help of some new and old community members. We should have lots of fresh food to share with one another soon. We are excited about several new interns coming to be with us in the fall. Another former intern is in the process of joining the community long term. www.hyaets.org Jonathan Wilson-Hargrove tells the story of Rutba and their missional practices to visitors from Detroit Villages.
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A reception for a local artist, Ruth Kjaer at Nehemiah Community’s Springfield Pulse Art Space. Over 150 people visited the space to see her work.
Jubilee Partners Comer, GA This spring, Jubilee Partners welcomed Chris and Rangsey Haynes and Michael and Josina Guess as resident partners. Our little town of Comer has seen a growth of new residents from Burma. This June, we partnered with neighbors to support a day camp for about forty children, connecting the children in our town with one another and the earth. The kids learned to say Genesis 1:31 and “thank you” in English, Karen, Karenni, and Spanish! We’ve provided English classes for refugees from Burma, Sudan, Congo, and Central African Republic. We anticipate the birth of Chris and Rangsey’s first child in August. www.jubileepartners.org Missio Dei Community St. Petersburg, FL
Missio Dei is launching Pack-a-Sack for Kids, a program aimed at fighting extreme childhood hunger one kid at a time. Pack-a-Sack, founded by Methodist Cooperative Ministries, works interdenominationally with churches that wish to engage hunger in their neighborhoods. Children identified by their elementary school 26 // CONSPIRE
as at-risk receive a pack of enough kid-friendly snacks (requiring no adult preparation) to get them through the weekend. We will begin with one hundred; we hope to do as many as five hundred. www.themissiodei.com Nehemiah Community Springfield, MA
God is great! Nehemiah House is filled with community members, novitiates, and guests. We had an amazing spring. The Springfield Pulse Art Space hosted two wonderful artists: Ruth Kjaer and Whitney Wood Rahm. Ruth took us deeply into the world of violence and oppression of women. This show of impressionist, abstract pieces was complemented by a follow-up discussion panel, a poetry workshop, and book study on the topic of violence against women. Whitney helped us see the more whimsical side of our lives with beautiful, bright pieces that emphasize the impact of words and color. We look forward to being outdoors and active in our neighborhood this summer. www.nehemiah-ministries.com
The GAPS Community Downey, CA
We recently harvested over three hundred pounds of humus (the organic matter left over after we composted four years’ worth of vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, grass clippings, used tea bags and coffee grounds). You can mailorder some of our fresh humus! (Your plants will go wild when you put it on them!) Just send us $7.50 cash and we’ll ship it to you in a small, flat-rate box (U.S. only). Most of the cost is for shipping, but all proceeds go to buy art supplies for our MorArt n’ Music Class for local kids. www.downeymoravian.org
David Melby-Gibbons (a GAPS resident) teaches kids guitar at their MorArt n’ Music Class.
The Simple Way Philadelphia, PA We are looking forward to summer in the city. We recently finished our last week of afterschool. We are hoping to provide scholarships for twenty-five neighborhood kids to go to summer camp this year (our highest goal yet!). Our Simple Way-Eastern University Scholars are participating in summer internships for the first time, and we are thrilled that Derrick, Malsiella, and Jesse
have all started working with local non-profits. Finally, we just welcomed Dan and Denise Anderson to North Philly, as the newest residents of our Village House program.
Students at GAPS’s MorArt ‘n Music class painting repurposed canvases.
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a resident of Faith House baking bread for New Earth Bread
Tierra Nueva Skagit Valley, WA We are growing—and looking for new staff people to join our ministry in one of three realms: New Earth Farm, New Earth Works (our three microenterprises), and New Earth Recovery (recovery house staff). Please contact David at admin@tierra-nueva. org if you are interested in learning more about our being a part of our ministry. www.tierra-nueva.org
More Conspiring Communities: Alterna LaGrange, GA www.alternacommunity.com Anthony’s Plot Winston-Salem, NC www.anthonysplot.org Associated Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary Elkhart, IN www.ambs.edu Camden Community Houses Camden, NJ
Centurion’s Guild Honolulu, HI email@example.com Church of the Sojourners San
Tierra Nueva’s pastor and director offering communion to children
www.churchofthesojourners.org Come Together Canton, TX www.cometogethertrading.com Community of Faith Fallbrook, CA www.life-reimagined.com Compost Boulder, CO www.compostme.org DC Area Community of Communities Washington, DC www.dc.newmonastics.org East Central Ministries Albuquerque, NM
on the porch of Faith House, Tierra Nevada’s women’s recovery house
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www.eastcentralministries.org Eastern University St. Davids, PA www.eastern.edu First United Presbyterian Church of Crafton Heights Pittsburgh, PA www.chup.org Georgetown College Campus Ministry Georgetown, KY www.georgetowncollege.edu/ campusministry
Jubilee Food Pantry Hubbard, OR www.jubileefoodpantry.wordpress.com Likewise Books Westmont, IL www.ivpress.com Mercy Station Anderson, AL Mulberry House Springfield, OH www.mulberrycommunity.com Nehemiah Ministries Springfield, MA www.nehemiah-ministries.com Reba Place/Shalom Mission Communities Evanston, IL www.rebaplacefellowship.org ReIMAGINE! San Francisco, CA www.reimagine.org Rutba House/School for Conversion Durham, NC Sacramento Conspirators Sacramento, CA
Salado United Methodist Church Salado, TX
www.saladoumc.org San Rafael First UMC San Rafael, CA www.sanrafaelfirstumc.org Servants Vancouver Vancouver, BC www.servantsasia.org Solomon’s Porch Minneapolis, MN www.solomonsporch.com The Book Parlor Spokane, WA www.TheBookParlor.com The Vine Haverhill, MA www.thevinehaverhill.com United Church of Milton Fairfax, VT
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The Compost Pile photograph by Christie Melby-Gibbons
All these pieces of rotting produce come together with bugs and bacteria to eventually form one layer of black, beautiful humus, which we use to feed our plants.
Published on Jul 15, 2013
Our summer issue explores wholeness. How do we deepen our spiritual core in a distracting and fragmented world? How might we build community...