49 min

The Grace and Main Fellowship Happy Are You Poor

    • Christianity

In this episode, I interview Joshua Hearne from the Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional and ecumenical Christian community located in Danville, Virginia. We discuss what it means to be a community for the poor and marginalized, rather than being a community that merely serves the poor and marginalized. We also talk about community life, organic growth, Asset Based Community Development, urban farming, and hospitality. The History of the Community The Grace and Main fellowship started as a bible study group in Danville, Virginia. It was very simple; just five people meeting once a week to discuss Scripture. They had no real intention of doing anything more than that. Over time, however, the members started eating with one another, praying together, and generally spending time together. They started to discuss the possibility of reshaping their lives around a more radical commitment to the Gospel. As Joshua put it, they eventually stopped and said “Maybe this isn’t a Bible Study like we thought it was! Maybe God is trying to do something more here…Maybe we’re one of those intentional community things we’ve heard about…Or maybe we could be one, anyway.” From this small beginning, the community has grown and evolved and changed over time. But the members are still eating, praying, and working with one another, and are still committed to living life in solidarity with the marginalized. Ecumenism in The Grace and Main Fellowship The Grace and Main Fellowship is an ecumenical community. Joshua said that in one sense, that’s just a statement of fact; the community has included members from many different Christian backgrounds. At the same time, it is also an aspirational statement. The community is united by some basic commitments and tries to focus on that unity regardless of the diversity of thought on other subjects. It is important to keep in mind that when Christ portrayed the Last Judgement, he didn’t describe it as a theology quiz! Instead, he described the judgment as being focused on a basic question: how did you treat the least of these? While searching for the truth is important, it is even more important to seek unity with fellow Christians and to give one’s life to Jesus without reservations. A Spectrum of Participation There is a wide spectrum of commitment among those who participate in the Grace and Main Fellowship. At the center, there are those who have discerned membership as a vocational way of life, and who have committed to sharing resources and leading an intentionally simple way of life. At the other end of the spectrum are those who occasionally drop in for events. Between these two extremes, there is a whole range of different commitment levels. These levels are fluid; they can change over time, depending on individual availability. This forms a porous barrier between the “inside” and the “outside”. Such a porous barrier can help to keep a community healthy and integrated into the wider local community. Commitments and Formative Influences Despite this range of participation, the core members do share a set of commitments; they hold the Apostle Creed as a basic statement of belief and are committed to non-violence, solidarity with the marginalized, sharing life, and practicing radical hospitality. Some of the most important formative influences for Grace and Main are the Catholic Worker movement and the writings of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Koinonia Farm, Rutba House, the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Asset Based Community Development. A Shared Life The core members of the community live in a network of houses, all within walking distance of one another. Some of these houses are owned by the community, others by individual members, and others are rented by the community. The community also maintains a common fund to make sure that all the members have a place to stay and enough to eat. Core members are expected to donate

In this episode, I interview Joshua Hearne from the Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional and ecumenical Christian community located in Danville, Virginia. We discuss what it means to be a community for the poor and marginalized, rather than being a community that merely serves the poor and marginalized. We also talk about community life, organic growth, Asset Based Community Development, urban farming, and hospitality. The History of the Community The Grace and Main fellowship started as a bible study group in Danville, Virginia. It was very simple; just five people meeting once a week to discuss Scripture. They had no real intention of doing anything more than that. Over time, however, the members started eating with one another, praying together, and generally spending time together. They started to discuss the possibility of reshaping their lives around a more radical commitment to the Gospel. As Joshua put it, they eventually stopped and said “Maybe this isn’t a Bible Study like we thought it was! Maybe God is trying to do something more here…Maybe we’re one of those intentional community things we’ve heard about…Or maybe we could be one, anyway.” From this small beginning, the community has grown and evolved and changed over time. But the members are still eating, praying, and working with one another, and are still committed to living life in solidarity with the marginalized. Ecumenism in The Grace and Main Fellowship The Grace and Main Fellowship is an ecumenical community. Joshua said that in one sense, that’s just a statement of fact; the community has included members from many different Christian backgrounds. At the same time, it is also an aspirational statement. The community is united by some basic commitments and tries to focus on that unity regardless of the diversity of thought on other subjects. It is important to keep in mind that when Christ portrayed the Last Judgement, he didn’t describe it as a theology quiz! Instead, he described the judgment as being focused on a basic question: how did you treat the least of these? While searching for the truth is important, it is even more important to seek unity with fellow Christians and to give one’s life to Jesus without reservations. A Spectrum of Participation There is a wide spectrum of commitment among those who participate in the Grace and Main Fellowship. At the center, there are those who have discerned membership as a vocational way of life, and who have committed to sharing resources and leading an intentionally simple way of life. At the other end of the spectrum are those who occasionally drop in for events. Between these two extremes, there is a whole range of different commitment levels. These levels are fluid; they can change over time, depending on individual availability. This forms a porous barrier between the “inside” and the “outside”. Such a porous barrier can help to keep a community healthy and integrated into the wider local community. Commitments and Formative Influences Despite this range of participation, the core members do share a set of commitments; they hold the Apostle Creed as a basic statement of belief and are committed to non-violence, solidarity with the marginalized, sharing life, and practicing radical hospitality. Some of the most important formative influences for Grace and Main are the Catholic Worker movement and the writings of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, Koinonia Farm, Rutba House, the writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Asset Based Community Development. A Shared Life The core members of the community live in a network of houses, all within walking distance of one another. Some of these houses are owned by the community, others by individual members, and others are rented by the community. The community also maintains a common fund to make sure that all the members have a place to stay and enough to eat. Core members are expected to donate

49 min