A Place Within the Church

To be a married couple in our 20s and Christian means exploring options and making choices for our future together. One of these choices is a commitment to intentional community.

Our first experience living in community was as apprentices at The Carpenter’s Boatshop in a small town in Maine. Twelve of us lived together in the Benedictine tradition, sharing meals, chores, work, and daily periods of devotion. An emphasis on hospitality and service rounded out our life together. Where we had felt alienated from the Christianity of our childhood, the time we spent at the boatshop spoke to a yearning—giving form and format to our spiritual journeys and providing us a place within the church.

We continued exploring community, visiting a Bruderhof community in Connecticut and living at Koinonia Partners in southwest Georgia. In both cases their emphasis on simple living, commitment to nonviolence, small-scale economies, and faithfulness to God had a profound impact on us, further shaping our convictions and direction.

Sharing the struggle for a common vision for life devoted to the ideals of Christ, having the support of other people of faith, and living a lifestyle that demonstrates responsible stewardship of resources and talents are what community life provides us. It is part of the challenge we feel as members of a generation of Christians that is looking at alternatives for promoting healing and sustainability in our society. n

Todd and Laura Zylstra-Garth live in Washington, D.C., and attend Friends Meeting of Washington. Todd, 29, is in seminary and has traveled extensively while working for Habitat for Humanity. Laura, 28, works for Sojourners, and enjoys organic gardening, Jungian psychology, and early American folk arts.

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Sojourners Magazine November 1994
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