This week as I spoke to a group about our exciting new project “Threshold House” I found myself dwelling on one particular aspect, that being the residential component. A close friend afterwards pointed out that Threshold House had three stories and I was only sharing about one of them, As I mulled this feedback over I began to see that I indeed needed to tell the tale in three stories. Today’s post is a beginning of the first story. It is the prologue. It is the history that makes sense of our present plans. This prologue is divided in three parts. Today’s offering looks at the history of the Church Army/Threshold as inspiration and a template. Later I will explore the history of monasteries as a model and finally I will share some of my own formative history that drives the creative thinking of this project. In following posts I will be bring the other two stories until we have a complete picture of the vision of “Threshold House”.
I believe the way forward is found in looking back! We, of Street Hope Saint John, are sensing a call to a radically new emphasis for our ministry. The word radical means “to the root” and we sense we are being called forward by returning to our origins.
Our history is the history of the Church Army. The Church Army had its inception during the height of the industrial revolution. It was a time of dramatic social upheaval with all the high-speed head spinning changes that accompanied it. It was a time of upheaval and no certainty about what society would look like when the dust settled.
Great swaths of the population migrated from rural life to the soon overcrowded urban centres like London. Uncertainty and unemployment led to a host of hither unknown social problems. At the heart of many of the inner-city issues was alcoholism. The combination of fear of the future and the false courage that was readily available through cheap gin, sparked strife in the social fabric. Women and children suffered, and crime and violence were rife.
It was in this setting that our founder, Wilson Carlile, realised that spiritual revival was the answer to the dilemma facing society. Changed hearts were the key to the health of the community.
He began to share with those who were in a seemingly hopeless state, that there was indeed hope, and that hope had a name. That name was Jesus!
It didn’t take long for him to realise that he alone would have limited impact on a problem so huge. He became convinced that an army of people sharing and showing hope was the best solution to this daunting problem. He set about recruiting and equipping people who had found hope, to become bringers of hope. By doing so he multiplied his impact for good, and for God!
This is our heritage. This is the mantle passed on by the laying on of hands to Evangelist to follow in this way.
As we launch our vision for Threshold House, we recognize the powerful parallels. We live in fear-filled times, and many, in seemingly hopeless states have turned to alcohol or chemicals. The only sure antidote to such fear is faith. The solution remains the same, spiritual revival!
We realise that the scope of the issue in our community is too large for our little ministry and so we are taking a radical look for guidance. We sense that like our founder we must equip an ‘army’ of hope bringers. This is the vision behind Threshold House!
We plan to create a community of people who have solidly discovered hope and through education and discipleship in the context of Christian Community. (My next epistle will be about our connection to the history of monastic living in times of social upheaval). For 9 – 12 months these residents will be readied to have an impact on our wider community. Then we will recruit the next cohort, as we multiply our impact.
At the same time, we envision, Threshold House will become a hub that fosters connections and networks with the community beyond our walls, enlisting men and women and church groups to join together to be catalysts for the spiritual revival our society needs.
Our vision takes us back to our roots. It challenges us. This is by far the biggest project we have yet undertaken but we are undaunted. If God is in this (and we believe he is!) and his people catch the vision, we know we can have an out-sized impact on the deadly scourge that plagues our community.
You can join the effort through your prayers, and financial support. Perhaps you would like to make a regular financial commitment to this project or make a onetime gift. You can do so by making payments out to Threshold Ministries and adding Threshold House in the memo section. Our address is 105 Mountain View Dr. Saint John NB E2J 5B5. We can also arrange direct deposit or Visa payments.