Ever since the Church of the Saviour community came into existence more than 25 years ago, it has been changing and evolving. Each new stage of growth has demanded more of us, raised harder questions, and tested us at deeper levels than the one that went before. Seven years have gone by since the fateful year of 1968 when rioting in our streets tore veils from our eyes and let us see in searing ways some of the misery of the oppressed. At that time we struggled with our lifestyle and the disciplines that would help us to be a more radically committed people. We were laying the foundations for Jubilee Housing and other new missions, as well as deepening and expanding the ministries of existing groups.
When the seventh year, the year of remission, drew near in our own congregation, Gordon Cosby -- founder, leader, spiritual father and brother for the Church of the Saviour community, since its founding in 1947 -- made a statement to the Council that was to involve us in a radically new structuring of our life. His words came at the close of a long meeting:
I have just time to raise a few questions concerning my own sense of call, which is intimately related to the whole community. I have come to the place where it is not possible to carry out responsibly what I have traditionally been doing, and also to help create new structures that have to do with people at the point of oppression. Now we have 110 members and 40 intern members, and with it a tremendous proliferation of corporate structures -- legal and otherwise.
As the membership has grown and the missions have expanded, the time demand on us all has increased. The questions raised with me are, “When does a community become so large that it cannot operate on the basis of human dimensions? How big should administrative units be? Can we keep on stretching without affecting the quality of work to which we are called?”