SMC is an association of five Christian communities: Reba Place Fellowship (Evanston, Illinois), Church of the Sojourners (San Francisco, California), Hope Fellowship (Waco, TX), and Jubilee Partners (Comer, GA). SMC has a close relationship with a fifth 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.
Hope Fellowship (Waco, TX): Hope Fellowship is a Christian community church best understood as a family of about 60 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 about 20 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!”
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.
Jubilee Partners (Comer, GA): is an intentional Christian service community in rural northeast Georgia, celebrating our 40th birthday the spring of 2019. We come from a number of different Christian traditions and together affirm that Jesus is Lord and seek to live our life together as a response to his life, death and resurrection. About 20 adult members (partners/novices/ apprentices) with a dozen children share a common life including many common meals, noon devotions centering around music, prayer, and scripture as well as Sunday worship. Five to 12 short-term “volunteers” join us for terms of 2 to 6 months. We have chosen to live under the taxable income without personal ownership of houses or cars. Many churches and friends receive our quarterly newsletter and support the community’s life and ministries.
Since 1980 Jubilee has welcomed several thousand refugees from over 30 countries providing a safe place to study English, get acquainted with their new country, rest, play and regain their health before moving on. Much of our daily “work” is carried out on Jubilee’s 250 acres of pasture and woodlands. We offer hospitality, do our own building maintenance, garden and keep chickens, goats and cattle. Some members are involved in off-property ministries including visiting prisoners on Georgia’s death row, international peacemaking and speaking to school and groups. Since 2014 our life has been blessed in new ways as several hundred former refugees relocated to the surrounding counties to become our neighbors. From those families of mostly Karen and Karenni from Burma has grown a youth ministry. (See our Summer 2019 newsletter.)