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The Community of Celebration

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Presentation on theme: "The Community of Celebration"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Community of Celebration
The origins of the Community of Celebration lie in a movement of the Holy Spirit at the Episcopal Church of the Redeemer, Houston, Texas, beginning in the mid-1960s.

2 Contemporaries in the church at large spoke of it as “a new way of living.”

3 Christians across the world were captivated and inspired, both by the extraordinary power of worship

4 and by the “extended family” life‑style which had been adopted by hundreds of people as a means of serving God. Those involved experienced the risen Christ as a palpable presence among them.

5 In 1972 the Bishop of Coventry invited an extended household to move to his diocese and see if this new way of living might catch on in the Church of England.

6 A year later we had outgrown our Coventry property and moved to Yeldall Manor in Berkshire.

7 After 2 years at Yeldall, the Community moved to the Isle of Cumbrae off the west coast of Scotland.

8 In 1985, the Community heard God call us to leave our island home of 10 years and to move back to our urban roots,

9 and we decided to relocate to the USA. We exchanged this…

10 …for this.

11 Aliquippa was a town devastated by the recent closure of its steel mill.

12 The streetscape resembled a ghost town
The streetscape resembled a ghost town. It was a place dominated by unemployment, poverty and social problems.

13 The Community bought a disused funeral home and renovated it for office and chapel space.

14 Next to the office we also bought the 12 rowhouses which had fallen into decay. They required an enormous amount of renovation work.

15 Just down the street from the rowhouses, All Saints Episcopal Church was in great need after 80% of the congregation had left 6 months before to plant an Episcopal church in a new suburb. The Community joined with the remnant congregation to be a Christian presence in the neighborhood.

16 Soon we were involved in supporting local people protesting the mill closure and loss of pensions and medical benefits. This march on Palm Sunday 1987

17 had great historical significance as it was exactly 50 years after the Wagner Act was upheld by the Supreme Court giving the workers at the Aliquippa mill the right to organize into a union.

18 The closing of All Saints Church in 1999 gave us the green light to pursue our dream of building a chapel more suitable for the needs of a Benedictine community. This signaled a new direction:

19 We would invite individuals and groups to experience our life and mission first hand rather than our traveling to them. The chapel is nestled between the office and rowhouses.

20 Everything is movable, so we can accommodate many different arrangements. This is the setting for the Morning, Noon, and Evening Prayer offices.

21 In 2003 we dedicated the Chapel of the Holy Spirit in a joyous celebration that began with a procession reminiscent of our time in Scotland.

22 We gave thanks to God for providing such a gracious space in which to worship,

23 and to gather with friends.

24 The following year the Salvation Army moved out of their facility next to our office, and in partnership with a former member of the Community, we purchased and renovated the building

25 thus providing additional accommodation for retreats and conferences.

26 Now we can host conferences at home

27 where conferees can enjoy the beauty of our common areas

28 and cooking and dining facilities.

29 Our monthly Taizé service draws a variety of worshippers from the area.

30 Our complex is very suitable for youth pilgrimages, such as this Journey to Adulthood group from Michigan.

31 Young people and their leaders can experience Christian community while they study, work, recreate, worship,

32 and share common meals.

33 As part of our ministry of presence, we offer safe, affordable housing to the public.

34 The common backyard provides the only green space in the neighborhood.

35 Our new facility made it possible to offer a program to the women in the county jail. Women on work release came two mornings a week for workshops in wellness, cooking, and creative writing as well as learning crafts such as making jewelry and scrap booking, sewing, knitting, and quilting.




39 The repeat offender rate is above 80%, and our prayer is that the seeds of hope, self-esteem, and practical knowledge will bear fruit in these women’s lives and encourage them on a life-changing path.

40 Steven McKeown serves as chaplain to Aliquippa Police, Fire Department, City Council, Civil Air Patrol, Air Marshalls, and the FBI of Western PA.

41 The Community has a long history of a commitment to peacemaking and reconciliation. A recent conference theme was “Waging Peace.”

42 Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.”

43 And “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…”

44 In early 2003, every afternoon before Evening Prayer, we demonstrated in front of our houses—right on Aliquippa’s main street--to protest the proposed invasion of Iraq.

45 We joined with thousands of others in the National Cathedral in Washington, DC on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to prayerfully ask President Bush to make a Faith-based Initiative and give international inspectors more time.

46 Afterwards we marched to Lafayette Square across from the White House

47 where we led the singing as ecumenical leaders led the prayers for peace and held a candlelight vigil.

48 However, our life and mission is rooted locally, not at a national level. This is what downtown Aliquippa looks like today.

49 Remember what it looked like 25 years ago?

50 And our property has been transformed from a derelict hovel…

51 to gracious living spaces.

52 The undergirding principle of our life:
We seek to find Jesus present in worship, in our common life, and in ministries that concentrate on responding to the needs of the times

53 Conversion of character
The Community of Celebration is recognized under the Canons of the Episcopal Church as a Christian Community and we take Benedictine Vows: Stability Conversion of character Obedience

54 Ever since landing in Aliquippa we have prayed that God would send someone with gifts for evangelism. In 2001 God answered that prayer by sending the Stanley family all the way from Sydney, Australia. They are part of the Church Army, an evangelistic ministry in the Anglican Communion, and they live in one of the rowhouses.

55 When John Stanley arrived in Aliquippa, he immediately set out to locate a building that could serve as a hospitality center–where any and all would be welcomed into an environment free from oppression and drugs–right in the middle of Aliquippa’s blighted main street.

56 The building he chose had been officially condemned, and the Church Army bought it for back taxes.

57 The first miracle was that John was able to attract volunteer labor from churches, youth groups, retirees, and young men in drug rehab to accomplish the enormous task of renovating the building into usable space.

58 Almost finished…

59 Today the Café serves breakfast and lunch 5 days a week, hosts open mic night and a movie night, provides space for AA groups, art classes, and special occasions.

60 It is all about rebuilding Aliquippa through creativity, imagination, community service, recovery, great food, and fellowship

61 Besides providing good food, good coffee and conversation, the Café acts as the home for an Aliquippa church, hosts Bible studies,

62 features local music on its stage and local art on its walls.

63 Uncommon Grounds is a healthy, diverse community where people of all ages, races, and income levels freely gather.

64 Five years ago God planted the seeds of another ministry alongside the Community of Celebration. Aliquippa Impact began as a summer outreach to at-risk kids in Aliquippa’s most challenging housing estate, staffed by students from a Christian college who donate their time to provide tutoring in basic subjects, build self-esteem, and to take the kids on field trips.

65 In preparation for the summer programs, they use our facilities for group study,

66 for team building exercises,

67 for worship and teaching,

68 and joint work projects


70 In partnership with Family Guidance, Aliquippa Impact offers a one-to-one mentoring program for youth ages 6 to 15. Currently, their program has matched nearly 30 students with mentors.

71 Their City Camp program serves approximately 35 students from the 3rd to 6th grades.

72 They believe in access to the arts for marginalized youth—that every child in every town, including Aliquippa, should have the opportunity to see and to create beautiful things.

73 The Community of Celebration’s 45 year history in common life and worship provides a solid base for other ministries which share a vision for Aliquippa’s revitalization.

74 Uncommon Grounds Café offers radical hospitality that draws in all sorts and conditions of men, women, and children to ways of relating that are transformational.

75 Aliquippa Impact instills hope in youth to live with purpose and become catalysts for change in Aliquippa and beyond.

76 By God’s grace we are all a sign of hope and healing to a hurting town.

77 The Community of Celebration

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