Debbie Reflects on the Ohio River Valley Catholic Worker Gathering

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity.”

Psalm 133:1 “How good and pleasant it is when we dwell together in unity.”

Debbie Baumgartner here: What a rich time of fellowship was had at the Ohio River Valley Catholic Worker & Christian Intentional Community Gathering hosted by Ross Eiler of the Bloomington Catholic Worker.

Unfortunately, we got in late Friday night and missed the square dance, but I heard it was a blast!

Saturday morning, after breakfast, we gathered in the chapel for prayer which gave us the strong foundation and connection with God and each other that was evident throughout the time together. We gathered in the large pavilion next to the pond next to introduce ourselves to each other and decide on our topics for the round table discussions. Many excellent suggestions were given, but the four that were voted the most popular were:

  • 1) Eschatology in Community  

  • 2) Spiritual Formation in Community (morning round table)

  • 3)Transitions in Community and

  • 4)Balancing Hierarchy and Mutuality (afternoon round table). These discussions were fruitful and informative but also continued to draw us closer to one another and to Jesus.

In between the two round table discussions, there was an opportunity to make a craft, we had lunch together and then we all participated in a work project. The family that runs the retreat center has had some major setbacks due to medical problems and we were so thankful to be able to help them out in a tangible way.

The weather was perfect and there were a lot of opportunities to enjoy the beautiful retreat center. Kid care was provided for each of the sessions so that parents could attend. All of the meal prep, kid care, and clean up chores were divided up and everyone contributed food to be prepared corporately.

Saturday night, some of the retreatants gathered in the pavilion across the pond for music jam and campfire. The rest of us could hear them from wherever we were around camp. Others continued conversations from earlier or struck up new friendships. It was great to look around at any free moment and see people talking and sharing with one another about so many aspects of community life and also just about daily joys and sorrows.

Sunday morning’s worship was special due to the musicians who gathered just a little before the rest of us arrived. They worked out some beautiful instrumental interludes and harmonies which made our singing times sound heavenly! We had to head out right after worship in order to get home. All in all, it was a rich time of fellowships, strengthening old friendships and making new connections. God was present with us and we were indeed mutually encouraged.

Upcoming Regional Gatherings!

One of the Nurturing Community Network’s biggest intentions is to build relationships… between individuals and communities. We value face to face relationship and thus really aim to provide venues where people from various types of intentional community settings can get to know each other.

This year, NCN is focusing on regional gatherings. Here are a few upcoming gatherings on the calendar…

Northwest gathering: March 23 (10am-5pm) in Tacoma WA. Please contact Elizabeth

Featured: Three Articles about Christian Intentional Communities

This past year we had the opportunity to have not one but THREE of our steering committee members featured in an academic theological journal writing on the intentional community movement. Alden Bass, Kent Smith and Charles Moore have a long history with the Nurturing Communities Network and have all been on the steering committee that helps guide the direction of the network. Enjoy their writings here at Missio Dei Journal:

P. Kent Smith, "Missional. Monastic. Restorationist? An Introduction to the Conversation"

Alden Bass, "Radical and Restorationist: Stone-Campbell Resources for Christian Intentional Community"

Charles E. Moore, "Radical, Communal, Bearing Witness: The Church as God’s Mission in Bruderhof Perspective and Practice"

Reflection on Christian Community

This is a reflection by Jack Towe, a man in the church his whole life who in his 60s set off to learn more about Christian intentional community.  In the past year, he has lived in five Christian communities: The Bruderhof in the Hudson River Valley, Jesus People USA in Uptown Chicago, Reba Place in Evanston, Illinois, Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission, and Damascus Home in Everett, Washington.  These thoughts grew out of his experiences there. 


Understanding Christian Community

Each community has shown different ways in which Christians can grow together. So, I compiled the list below. None of the items are imaginary. I’m writing as a reporter of what I’ve seen—not only in the five communities above—but with Victory Outreach, with work crews, nuns, congregational groups, and in the small gathering at my home in Cincinnati,

Christians living together in the same facility miss out on Christian community, unless—

We are all motivated by following Scripture, Jesus’ example, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. This is our toughest learning, along with learning to love each other with self-sacrificing (agape) love.

We all eat together for at least one meal a day.

We daily worship, praise, and pray to our LORD together, along with a teaching.

Every member has an accountability partner or a spiritual director.

Members get to know each other in depth by sharing their testimonies.

Regarding significant matters, do nothing without asking.

Regular Bible study is a challenge, with each person thoroughly prepared. We meet in small groups, with full participation in discussion. Usually, we use the case method, as is done in graduate schools of law, business, and medicine.

Each member—including children and teens—has the opportunity to meet Jesus personally, be baptized in the Holy Spirit, and learns to be a dedicated witness for Jesus.

Going in pairs, we are in regular contact with our neighbors—assisting them when possible and, when appropriate, introducing them to Jesus and joining with them in discipleship. That is, we do our part in the Great Commission. Matthew 28:19.

Ordinary conversation topics include Jesus, Scripture, miracles, and the LORD’s leadings  

Living in community, we continually irritate each other. So, it is essential that we do not let the sun go down on our anger. Daily we need to confess our frustrations to each other, ask to be forgiven, and be reconciled in the LORD.. Mostly, however, we learn to live with and even appreciate each other’s idiosyncrasies.

The most obvious way to show self-sacrificing agape love is to listen to each other. Really listen.

When a brother or sister has a problem, we hear it fully. We seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for appropriate responses. We pray together for the LORD to deal with the problem.

We regularly experience miracles—including healing, deliverance, and the LORD's miraculous solutions to problems with relationships, finances, oppression, and blocked opportunities.

We pray for Holy boldness and the LORD’s direction to speak the truth with love in witnessing, rebuking, correcting, and encouraging.

Together we go to the LORD with impossible prayer requests in line with God’s will—the kind of prayers He delights in answering.

One of the hardest tasks we face is having fun together because we each have fun in different ways. So, we use any occasion to celebrate together.

The community is equipped effectively to respond to neighbors’ needs in times of crisis, including fires, floods, desertion, refugee resettlement, total poverty, killings, and other tragedies. As the community grows, we could respond to selected crises in the city, the nation, and the world.

We bless each other with acts of self-sacrificing agape love—some major, and many small ones.

To read more from Jack, go to

Upcoming Nurturing Communities Gathering in MN!

Picture from last year's Minnesota gathering

Picture from last year's Minnesota gathering

What: Workshops, group discussions, fellowship, worship, and lots of collaborative conversations.  

Who: People living in intentional Christian community and those interested in doing so.

Where: The Genesis Community (Minneapolis, MN)

When: August 10th – 12th 2018 (Friday night through Sunday morning)

Basics: Food and childcare provided. $15 donation per adult requested to cover food & childcare.

Theme: Family.  The new testament talks a great deal about the family of God, how through Christ we are adopted into the family of God, and are now brothers and sister in God’s family. However, in an individualistic culture there is a pull toward individuality, and the idea of family is typically extended only to our natural family.  This year we’re going to gather and explore what loving our brothers and sisters in the faith with the longevity and hope we have for our natural family might look like.

Registration: Register online at

Questions? Contact: Andrew H. or Jon B. at