OUR WAY OF LIFE
is rooted in a covenant of place-based values and practices. It is focused on small and incremental steps toward the alternative vision we long to see in our city. Our covenant has three primary focal points: our love for God, our love for one another, and our love for our neighbours. These find their roots in the words of Jesus in Matthew 22.
is a way of saying we are rooted and tethered to a particular neighbourhood in the parish. Our downtown parish spans four square kilometres and is home to approximately 16,000 people. The parish includes several diverse neighbourhoods within the boundary markers of Giles, the Detroit River, Caron / the railroad tracks, and Howard. By committing to these parish boundaries, we live into the restrictions and benefits of limitation.
We’re about creating a supporting loving community. This happens through a variety of activities and structures. Our place based way of life involves creating and supporting community at the neighbourhood level, helping people move out of isolation and into meaningful community life. Many of our activities are designed to help people move from being strangers to friendship. We visualize this as a series of concentric circles that are open and inviting. Our place-based values and practices are at the centre of our life together, and those who commit to our way of life in the parish are covenant members. The next circle out are companions. These are people who do not live in the parish, but they participate by being actively involved in their own parish, or by coming alongside other covenant members in supportive relationship.
Beyond companions are our friends. Friends of the DWCC might live downtown, or they might be aspirational about our way of life. They might be curious about our community. Our friends have yet to covenant with us, and we happily embrace their friendship and their support in the work of creating and supporting loving community at the neighbourhood level.
Finally, we look to a relational spectrum (people moving from stranger to familiar to acquaintance to friend) to help us make sense of activities and relationships that allow people to move from isolation into community, with the hope that they can be valued and find a place to belong.
Our mission stems from our vision. Because we long to see the city be a good place to grow up and grow old, we are focused on creating and supporting loving community at the neighbourhood, grass-roots level. We see this happening on our sidewalks and streets, in our parks and playgrounds, on our front porches and in the common spaces we live our lives. We see our neighbourhoods through the lens of Asset Based Community Development principles: everyone has something to contribute, and community is the place where we are valued and find belonging.
Our vision comes from the words of the prophet Zechariah from 2,500 years ago, and they are still fitting for our city today: God coming to our city looks like this: “Old men and old women will come back to the city, sit on benches on the streets and spin tales, moving around safely with their canes; it will be a good city to grow old in. And boys and girls will fill the public parks, laughing and playing; it will be a good city to grow up in.” This is the alternative vision for our city that we long to see.
Moved by God’s Spirit in this time called America to assemble at St. Johns Baptist Church in Durham, N.C., we wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich tradition of Christian practices that have long formed disciples in the simple Way of Christ. This contemporary school for conversion which we have called a “new monasticism” is producing a grassroots ecumenism and a prophetic witness within the North American church which is diverse in form but characterized by [twelve] marks…” -Josh Anderson, Sojo.net
There are twelve marks of new monasticism that help to identify distinctive features of new monastic communities. We haven’t always identified as a new monastic community of faith, but reflecting on these twelve marks shows us that we could describe ourselves as a new monastic community. Below are the twelve marks and a description of how we’ve embodied each mark in the DWCC.
#1 Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.
The DWCC has lived this out by relocating to the parish, a series of connected neighbourhoods that have be described as impoverished, under-resourced, and neglected. Covenant members are faithfully present in these “abandoned places of Empire”.
#2 Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.
The DWCC has embraced economic and resource sharing on an individual basis (through a culture of looking out for one another) and through a system of monthly giving and benevolence. We have also created a tool lending library and a sharing pantry to foster and develop a sharing economy.
#3 Hospitality to the stranger.
The DWCC has had official hospitality homes (River’s Edge Men’s House, Women’s Community House, Recovery House) that offer hospitality to the stranger. Some of our members offer this kind of radical hospitality through their own homes. And our gatherings intentionally make space for strangers to become friends.
#4 Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.
The DWCC has taken a posture of lament, examining our history and our neighbourhoods through the lens of lamenting personal and systemic injustice. We have committed to the ongoing practice of conversation around these important issues. We are striving to actively pursue just reconciliation, being a healing and reconciliatory community in the heart of the city.
#5 Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.
The DWCC has encouraged collaboration with congregations across the city. We valued the relationship with St. Andrew’s, and currently we walk alongside Central United, First Baptist, and All Saints Anglican. Our Love the City gathering has been an annual attempt to bring the Church of Windsor together and listen to the Spirit’s direction in loving our city.
#6 Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.
The DWCC embraces a covenant of orthopraxy that shapes the way we love God, the way we love one another, and the way we love our neighbours. We are looking to embrace language of Covenant, Companion, Friends, and the relational spectrum from stranger to friendship as a way of intentional formation in the way of Christ.
#7 Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.
The DWCC has pursued common life in the intentional community homes. A distinctive of DWCC is viewing our common life through the lens of our parish. We seek to nurture and support one another as we live in walking distance of each other.
#8 Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.
The DWCC aspires to be a living application of “God places the lonely in families”, that the intimacy of friendship and brothers and sisters comes in finding a place where I am valued and have a chance to belong.
#9 Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.
Members of the DWCC strive to live in walking distance to one another, sharing and embracing the boundaries of the parish. We strive to live, work, play, and pray as much as possible within the parish.
#10 Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.
The DWCC has been a key contributor to our local community garden collectives, ensuring neighbours have access to fresh produce. We also encourage our members and our broader community to seek the welfare of the city by buying and eating locally, going to the farmers market, and supporting local businesses.
#11 Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
Every community has conflict, and we strive to work through it toward restoration and reconciliation. When we have had conflict, we have leaned on the principles of conflict resolution detailed in Matthew 18. The DWCC has also been a catalyst of peacemaking in the neighbourhood, helping to facilitate opportunity for conversation between neighbours and organizations where there is disagreement, such as neighbours on Victoria and the Downtown Mission.
#12 Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.
The DWCC leans into contemplative practices of daily scripture reading, daily prayer, sabbath, simplicity, breathing prayers, the hands prayer, trios, and many other contemplative disciplines.