I was only 10 years old when my family “found” Christian Community and took the first steps to becoming members. We moved to Ottawa from Timmins in their quest. There were 2 communities that they were looking at at that time: the New Jerusalem Community and the Servants of God Community. They were 2 communities with different styles and my parents checked both out before making a decision. Finally a decision was made. What is this Christian Community of which I speak? The Servants of God Community in Ottawa, Ontario is a community of like-minded Christian men and women and their families who gather regularly to pray, receive teachings, and share their faith together and with others. Community does not take the place of church but enriches the members’ lives so that they can be living witnesses of God’s work in their individual churches and in the world.
Our family moved to a “cluster” when I was beginning grade 7. Not all the Community families lived in this cluster, but different families bought and rented homes near each other so that friendships could grow and families could help each other. It was not uncommon to just walk into each others’ homes announcing our arrival by calling out instead of knocking on the door. I got to go to the local school with other Community kids and hang out with them in each others’ homes. We had sleep overs. We watched movies. We played arcade games. We laughed together, fought together, went on outings together, celebrated birthdays together and became the best of friends. I would often babysit for Community members for meetings and their date nights. During Community Gatherings we kids would sit with the adults during prayer meetings and listen to the same teachings they received.
While living in this cluster my Mom had a difficult pregnancy and was bed-ridden for months. The ladies in the Community took care of our family by cleaning and providing our meals. It was a real service and a real witness to us. The Community has never been large, but these few women served us faithfully and with joy. When my mom was up and moving about my parents decided it was time to buy a home and they looked for and found a home outside the city limits. We were moving to the country!
Of course, my little brother came early and only a week before the moving date, but again the men and women in the Community came to our aid and finished packing up our home and helped move us. I had missed living in the country the whole time we lived in the city and really enjoyed our new home. However, it meant a new school and new friends. We still attended weekly Community Gatherings, and Mom and Dad attended their men’s and women’s share groups while us kids were babysat at home.
Mom and Dad had a real zeal for the Lord and for evangelisation and started a Bible Share Group. This group met at the local church for a while and then in their home. So many people came and went in this group. New friendships were formed with local families, but Community commitment still continued. Some even joined Community with us. Two of those women are still in a Bible Share Group with my Mom to this day!
As the members of the Community spread in the city and out of it, Saturdays found the Community gathering in each others’ homes for supper and the opening of the Lord’s Day. These suppers were always a feast and a set of prayers set aside the Lord’s Day and reminded us God’s faithfulness to us and our commitment to Him. Sunday suppers would find us closing the Lord’s Day with another set of prayers in our homes. Prayer meeting were Sunday afternoons. Eventually our prayer meeting moved to Saturdays and suppers became a large potluck and we all ate together. We would have a teaching, and a talent show every week for entertainment. There were a lot more little kids at this time so there were programs for the kids during the teachings. Again things changed, and Saturday Gatherings became every other week, with the alternate week hosting a Friday Night Gathering for the adults with the teachings at this time, and on the Saturdays individual families invited other Community families for supper and the Lord’s Day Celebration. We often invited non-Community friends to join us for these suppers so that they could experience what we had.
Growing up in Community had real advantages for me. I knew the Lord and made decisions accordingly. I looked for and found Christian friends at school. I attended Youth Conferences and retreats. I made Community friends. I served in Children’s Ministries. When I was a teen, I heard the parents receiving teachings on how to raise young children to know, love and serve God. When I was a young adult, I heard teachings on how to raise your teenagers. I received these teachings before I was married and it formed my desires and ideas and I wanted a husband to share these same ideas with me, but like I said, Community was always small. People came and people went. There weren’t many single men in Community when I was ready to find a husband, so I had to trust this to God.
As a young adult I began to search for where God wanted me to grow. I looked at our church and was looking at a new community starting there. I already knew some of the people in the group. This community was being formed in a similar way to the Servants of God Community, with prayer meetings and small share groups and teachings but there were some people in this group who were very vocal and fought against some of these ideas. Then suddenly I knew. I didn’t have to find community, I already had it. I came home to the Servants of God Community with my whole heart, ready to commit to what God had already given to me.
I joined a share group with a couple of other single women. We listened to all kinds of teachings: how to be women of God, how to discern, how to be a good wife…. I wanted to be married and I wanted Community, but I decided that I would take Community and remain single if this was God’s plan. But God had a better plan and brought me a man through church that fell in love with my Community. We got married and became members of the Servants of God Community and continued with them for many years until God led us on a new path.
Community was there for us, just like it was there for my parents. Our wedding, baby showers, baptisms, birthdays, hospital stays, house renovations – always reaching out, always there…but these are stories for another day. Even though we’re not members of the Servants of God Community anymore, the legacy lives on in our lives, and in the lives of our children.
Coming next: How Community Made Me into the Woman I am Today