Today’s post is to be the third and last one of what I have considered the Prologue of my Three Story description of the vision for our new project Threshold House. This prologue has involved looking at history as the inspiration and template for this vision. Solomon writes “There is nothing new under the sun.” and I think it is always good to look at the past for guidance in the present. In earlier posts I wrote about the history of the Church Army and the vital role monasticism played in saving civilization. Today’s historical look back (Is that redundant?) is more personal. I will look back at a period that was vital in shaping me as inspiration for the formation of others.
Sadly, this topic has been ‘front of mind’ this week with the death of Charlene Scriver, this week. Her husband Ernie was the Director of Training at the Church Army College of Evangelism, when I was a student. She and Ernie lived in the apartment just below the Women’s residence, an apartment Linda and I would later live in. When Linda and I were too long in our good nights at the bottom of the stairs, I remember Charlene calling out “That’s enough already!” These are the years I think back on to take inspiration for today!
Those days were not marked by great academic learning, but they were a ‘hot house’ for formation after the image of Christ. We lived in community! This was an alien concept to me, and I did not easily adapt. It was not just community life but the disciplines of community life that caused me to grow. We worshipped and studied and worked together. As iron sharpens iron so we sharpened one another. In those days graduating classes were as close as family, and annual conferences were a family reunion.
I learned the disciplines of prayer and the importance of personal ‘Quiet Times’. I learned to rely on God by necessity and by example.
Some community examples stand out in my memory. I remember the weekly gathering the men had with Captain T at his house. He shared puns and the scriptures and made us feel valued. I recall with a smile the weekly Thursday Night Fellowship Meetings. Where we heard from visiting missionaries and preachers who would spark our imaginations and inspire us. I remember not always wanting to go but being blessed, nevertheless. I remember practical work placements, both midweek and on Sunday’s where we got to safely spread our ministry wings and grow in confidence in God’s call on our lives. I recall to that part of the curriculum called “Scrub-ology” where we were assigned tasks to clean or maintain the property. We learned to be servants and that has stood me in good stead.
Not every day was inspiring and ‘community life’ was hard slogging at times, but looking back, I now see them as the best preparation I could have had. As an introvert I found this type of living very challenging.
I write this not just for nostalgia sake, but because these are the very kind of experiences that I long to see the residents of Threshold House have. These are the same type of activities that can connect us to each other, that can connect us to the larger community, and that can connect the wider community to us.
The vision is that Threshold House become a place where in community people are formed for ministry sharing that hope. My early experiences of just this sort of formation influence my hopes for how we shape the future.
This concludes the historical Prologue and next week I will continue my Three-Story tale of the vision of Threshold House, the home of Street Hope Saint John.