SMC is an association of six Christian communities: Reba Place Fellowship (Evanston, Illinois), Plow Creek Fellowship (Tskilwa, Illinois), Church of the Sojourners (San Francisco, California), Hope Fellowship (Waco, TX), Third Way Church (St. Paul, MN), and Lotus House (St. Louis, MO). SMC has a close relationship with a seventh community, Valle Nuevo, a rural village of former refugees in El Salvador.
SMC communities share common commitments in Christian community, in mission, and in inter-community support, discernment, accountability, and visitations.
Reba Place Fellowship (Evanston, IL): began in 1957 in what has become an ethnically diverse neighborhood in south Evanston. Its forty-some members and children now live in large multi-family homes and apartment buildings in Evanston and in Rogers Park, in north Chicago. Reba sponsors an affordable-housing ministry for many low-income families. Fellowship members work in shared community ministries and in “outside” earning jobs, mostly in the service professions.
Reba Place Fellowship’s long-term commitment to its local neighborhoods has encouraged the formation of two congregations, and given life to a couple of cooperative “villages” within the city. In recent years Reba has worked to review its structures, to become a more reconciling and empowering presence within its racially diverse neighborhoods. After many years of community experience, Reba is still under construction.
Plow Creek Fellowship (Tiskilwa, IL): members are part of Plow Creek Church located on Plow Creek Farm, about two hours west of Chicago, near the small town of Tiskilwa, Illinois. During the summer, much work is focused on the farm when the community maintains pick-your-own berry fields and provides wholesome foods for local farmers’ markets. Members also carry earning jobs in the wider community as carpenters, social workers, teachers, and administrators. With its retreat cabin and guest rooms, Plow Creek is a place of renewal for many city friends and visitors.
The Plow Creek community, numbering about 50 adults and children, often includes a rich international mix of exchange visitors from sister communities in El Salvador and Spain. Plow Creek was planted by “colonists” from Reba Place in 1972. In recent years Plow Creek has been tested and transformed by some profound struggles. But God has proved faithful, giving a renewal of love and an influx of new people.
Hope Community (Waco, TX): Hope Fellowship is a Christian community church best understood as a family of about 70 neighbors who worship together and share their lives throughout the week across borders of language and culture. Many people of Hope Fellowship live in the Sanger Heights and Brook Oak neighborhoods of Waco and some live in shared household. The common life of Hope Fellowship is visible in the covenant groups that meet weekly, youth group, three clusters of worship groups, various church events, informal meals, walks, prayers and shared childcare, not to mention all the work it takes to cook and clean and nurture our community without paid staff. Generosity is a value where financial sharing happens informally, and all work outside jobs.
We are a community of disciples seeking to follow Jesus, sharing the confession “Jesus is Lord,” affirming an ecumenical unity with the worldwide body of Christ, and identifying our church as part of the Anabaptist/Mennonite movement within the Christian family. Jesus leads us to share the following values and actions: church as daily life, one new humanity, shalom, service to neighbors, universal ministry, baptism, and communion.
Church of the Sojourners (San Fransico, CA): consists of 30 people, including those who are pursuing membership. Its purpose is to “be the Church for the world” in the vibrant, pagan, jam-packed city of San Francisco. It seeks to be a people who live by God’s ways (especially sacrificial love and covenantal faithfulness) in a way that outsiders notice. Through its network of family and neighborhood relationships, the community has many opportunities to invite outsiders into its life, sharing God’s love and fidelity with them—one at a time.
Most summers Church of the Sojourners conducts a summer program for teens or college students with a core teaching on the “Nature and Purpose of the Church.” The volunteers in turn run a reading program or a vacation Bible school for neighborhood kids who are mostly Latino. The community’s breadwinners work in regular jobs, many of them in human services and healing professions. The breadwinners support a small army of pastors, teachers, administrators, youth workers, and writers who serve the church full time. “We are highly educated (most are college graduates), overly earnest over achievers, but God is gracious and keeps sending us new life and joy anyway!”
The Lotus House (St. Louis, MO): The Lotus House is a community of disciples seeking to follow Jesus in inner-city Saint Louis. It is modeled on the Jerusalem Church described in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the Benedictine monasteries, and the New Monastic communities. Since 2008, the community has been a faithful presence and a witness to God’s peace in a section of town known for violence and poverty.
Valle Nuevo (El Salvador): is a campesino village of repatriated refugees in El Salvador that Shalom Mission Communities have accompanied since 1992 through regular visits both ways, and projects to buy land and build houses for the neediest families. Valle Nuevo has helped SMC understand Jesus’ presence in the poor who are rich in faith.