Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What Next for the "nonchurchy" Church of the Saviour?

The Church of the Saviour, an activist, social-justice based, completely UNdenominational church, is at a crossroads.

Founded by Gordon Cosby in the late 1940s, Church of the Saviour combined spiritual contemplation, prayer and reflection, with an astounding array of public ministries that provided housing, found jobs, ministered to people with AIDS/HIV, helped homeless women, and created a rural retreat center for rest and refreshment.

Now, at 91, Cosby is stepping down. The church is selling its home, a mansion on DC's Massachusetts Avenue. What happens next is anyone's guess.

But the vision of Church of the Saviour, I believe, will continue. So many Christians, leaders, priests, pastors, professors, and countless disciples of Jesus have passed through its cell churches, been formed by its programs, shaped by Cosby's mission to the world. I think what all of us have learned from the simple existence of Church of the Saviour will continue: that we live for others, particularly the least of these. That all our ministry must be grounded in total submission to Jesus Christ, and that it is in giving ourselves away that we discover ourselves at last.

The guiding vision of the Church of the Saviour's ministry is this statue, once found on the street outside its headquarters, but later moved to the Wellspring Retreat Center in Maryland. It shows Jesus ready to wash his disciples' feet. And Jesus looks like all the homeless men out on the cold streets of the city.

+ Kit

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