Part family get together, part retreat with the Lord.
The Nurturing Communities Gathering last month was a great time to slow down, spend some time resting in the Lord, and to connect with a special network of believers - believers who express their faith in God through living together in close proximity with their sisters and brothers in the Lord. We were sixty-some adults and fifteen children from eighteen communities, coming from as far as Brooklyn NY and Vancouver BC. One group (the Bruderhof) is celebrating a hundred years of history, and one still unnamed Chicago group is only a month old. Some communities live in huge apartment buildings, and some in normal houses. Some live in the city, and some in the wilderness, but all came together at Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston Illinois to connect, share, rekindle focus, and share real struggles that communities are processing.
Here are the things that stood out most to me about the Nurturing Communities Gathering
• The people – people from all sorts of communities came together. From Caneyville Community in Kentucky – a horse and buggy Amish community living on 200+ acres in the country, to Jesus People USA living in a renovated hotel in Chicago. There was a richness in culture and diversity in how people have chosen to follow Jesus in Intentional Christian Community.
• The presence of God – sometimes in our busy life, we are moving so fast that we forget to pause. I know that I do. The opportunity to praise God many times a day, to pray, and to remember that I serve an awesome God is really, really good.
• The family time – Sara and I and the kids were able to get some good family time. We got a really good pie at the corner store, and we took a great hike to Lake Michigan through some grand old neighborhoods in Evanston.
• The community – There was a great level of “realness” going on at the gathering. It was hard to round people up for prayer before meals, because everyone wanted to keep on talking. Intentional Christian Community is a way to do ministry, and with many ministries, there’s good stuff happening, and some challenging stuff too. Some communities have gone through hard times lately, and they honestly brought that forward for prayer and discernment. Some communities have been stable for a long time, but are now in need of attracting the younger generations to their community to keep the community going for the next generation. Being real is vulnerable, but it was done well at the Nurturing Community Gathering – thanks be to God.
• The friendships - This is the 3rd year that I've came to the Nurturing Communities Gathering, and getting to know Alden, Sally, Orwin, Neil, Charles, Allan, and Josias among other new friends has been such a special blessing. Its fun to have a 73 year old friend, and its so great to see the same faces year after year, and know that we're "in this together".
Overall, it was a really great gathering. Can't wait to go to the next one fall of 2015.
Here are some photos from the gathering: