The word “community” had become a buzzword. Advertisements tout on-line communities. Even banks refer to its depositors as their banking community. With all the social networking, Twitter, and instant messaging, the essence of community, a sense of place and belonging, is easily lost, overwhelmed. For Jesus People USA community means the body of Christ, where the individual adds to the whole, and each member has a chance to express themselves through various gifts. It is about building one another up. Sometimes this requires listening, offering a timely word, laughing together, prayer, and, as many times as not, forgiveness.

Community is not for everyone. For some it is a juncture rather than a terminus, a place to pause before going on to the next life decision. It can be a place of healing or to hear a call. No matter what: community is dynamic, a living, growing organism. It is what its members and those visiting for even a short while make of it.

A community is the mental and spiritual condition of knowing that the place is shared, and that the people who share the place define and limit the possibilities of each other’s lives. It is the knowledge that people have of each other, their concern for each other, their trust in each other, the freedom with which they come and go among themselves.” Wendell Berry, from The Loss of the Future

JPUSA is located in Chicago in a neighborhood known for its diversity. In an area that encompasses Wrigley Field, the Lake Michigan lakefront, and the CTA Red Line over 40 languages can be heard spoken. Between trendy restaurants and nightclubs that feature the latest acts there are pockets of poverty. The homeless sleep on warehouse docks. JPUSA has been here for going on four decades, establishing homeless shelters, feeding programs, and various other outreaches. The new Wilson Abbey is the next step in reaching out with relevant programming.

Now more than ever we are excited to see what the next generation of JPUSA will reveal. If interested in setting up a visit or contacting us to volunteer, go to VISIT US to explore the options. An excellent resource for those wishing to know more about community is Community and Growth by Jean Vanier.

The Meaning of Community

Community means communion of heart and spirit; it is a network of relationships. This implies a response to the cry of our brothers and sisters, especially the poorest, the weakest, the most wounded and a sense of responsibility for them. And this is demanding and disturbing. That is why it is very easy to replace relationships and the demands they bring with laws, rules and administrative devices. It is easier to obey a law than it is to love people. This is why some communities are swallowed up by rules and administration instead of growing in gratitude, welcome and gift.

Jean Vanier, Community and Growth, p.108