My review copy of Servant Leaders, Servant Structures, by Elizabeth O'Connor (The Servant Leadership School, 1640 Columbia Road NW, Washington, DC 20009; 1991, $7.95, paper), is already much-handled. I've shared portions of it with others more than once--most recently in a Sojourners Community meeting focused on the formation of small groups. I've reread sections for personal encouragement and clarity, and I've recommended the book to others.
In short, I've quickly learned the value of this new book. In just under 100 pages, O'Connor tells the history of The Church of the Saviour in Washington, D.C., her faith community since 1953. She has made a great contribution to the movement for a more prophetic church.
A wealth of stories awaits the reader: the origins of The Potter's House coffeehouse, the process that preceded the decision in 1976 to become a circle of several worship communities, the people involved in Christ House for the homeless and Joseph's House for people with AIDS, and leadership's response to periodic challenges of the corporate disciplines. The honest sharing of the members' visions, doubts, and fears over the years is O'Connor's gift, providing us the opportunity to learn from the experience of this unique church.
In keeping with themes raised in her previous works, O'Connor explores ways that The Church of the Saviour has tried to maintain a balance between inward and outward journeys. Artists will especially appreciate her reflections on The Alabaster Jar mission group: "The artist helps us to interpret, understand and communicate feeling. When the artist is successful we are led into communion with ourselves and with the world, and the solitary work becomes a communal work."