A Lighthouse Amid Breweries
Light of Christ in Grand Rapids, MI is an Affiliate community in the Sword of the Spirit.
by Kyle and Lucy VanderWoude
Although Grand Rapids, MI has had an ecumenical community for a number of years, the Lord has moved in and grown the Light of Christ community in recent years, and not just by multiplying breweries in the city. God has continued to add young people and families, and relationships have continued to flourish. In particular the community saw growth at the beginning of this year: sitting across from a pristine lake in Southwest Michigan, the Light of Christ partook in a weekend retreat. It was uncommon because it involved men and women, young and old. The retreat focused on the foundations of the Sword of the Spirit, the call as an ecumenical community, and the individual calls the Lord had placed in each person and family’s life. Speakers were brought in from multiple communities to a community that from the start has been built by those gathered from other places. This mesh of traditions included those unfamiliar with covenant community and those seeking to grow deeper in Christian community without fully understanding the history and call of the Sword of the Spirit.
This history and particular call is something many members of Light of Christ are understanding for the first time, while also experiencing it through those around them. This is part of what makes Light of Christ unique from other communities. It is starting off on a journey that many communities started a generation ago. Questions at the start of this retreat included: How does this community build the kingdom here in Grand Rapids? How does this community fit into the Sword of the Spirit internationally? How do we build our community to be stronger in the Lord? These are the big questions facing this young community.
"TCC is a very joyful, warm, and Spirit-filled community. It's marvelous to see their growth and maturity.
It was encouraging to see the community's solid unity expressed through healthy diversities of age, race, and ecumenical expression. That's like a small window into the unity/diversity seen in Revelation: 'a multitude from every nation, from all tribes and people and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.' (Rev 7:9).
Our visitation team greatly enjoyed being with our brothers and sisters in Maryland!"
-Br. Rahl Bunsa
"The Family of Faith has something working really right in the area of the extended family. Their intergenerational relationships are very strong. Many children identify the community as 'my community' not 'my parent’s community' because of how well they are integrated. Similarly, they have a remarkable integration of their 'Single Bells,' single women who are so highly respected that the young girls cite them as what they want to be like when they grow up.
Also remarkable is how they have managed to overcome the craziness of life on the East Coast with up to four-hour work commutes and exorbitant prices, but as one of their members said, 'Our love for each other is greater than the distance between us.'”
We're All In: The Brotherhood of Hope Becomes a Full-Member Community
by The Brotherhood of Hope
This year the Brotherhood of Hope enters into full membership in the Sword of the Spirit. We are deeply grateful to God for his faithfulness! We’re also grateful to the men and women leaders in the SOS for their wisdom, guidance, and solidarity.
Our decade of discerning this step has been both organic and encouraging. That’s largely because our life emerged from this vibrant lay movement—especially through the Servants of the Word and the People of Hope. As we later developed as “religious-in-formation” with canonical approval, we still retained our foundational expressions, like charismatic spirituality, character training, relational evangelism, and a heart for ecumenism.
We’ve experienced numerous blessings during our reintegration process—too many to count! Here are some encouraging ones as we help “build the bulwark”.
- We started a new community in Tallahassee, called the Fountain of Life, which has grown to nearly 50 adults and 45 children. Two Brothers serve on their leadership team.
- Our Brothers in Minnesota and New Jersey gladly participate in the gatherings, retreats, and life of the Community of Christ the Redeemer and the People of Hope.
- Eighteen Brothers are involved with Kairos work. Most serve at five universities, where we oversee Catholic campus ministry. We also make various ecumenical connections on campus.
- Our alliance with SPO has deepened and borne much fruit. Two Brothers work for SPO (one is a program developer, the other a regional director), and our founder is SPO’s national chaplain.
- Three Brothers are SOS coordinators: one is a local coordinator, one is a missionary coordinator, and one is a regional missionary coordinator.
- Our Brothers also have been serving in other ways: on visitation teams, on the community building executive team, on the international teaching team, on the Regional Council, on the region’s ecumenical commission, and as retreat or conference speakers. We’re also soon to release some worship/ scriptural songs that we’ve written, hoping that they inspire many members of the SOS.
Created with an image by Timeo Buehrer - "untitled image"