Rose Madrid-Swetman

ā€” Random Thoughts, Stories of Life, and Questions about the Journey ā€”

March 3, 2008

Church of the Savior

Category: All Posts,Community,Stories of Life – Rose – 10:36 pm

Tonight I was reading through the journal I kept in 2003. I read through my entries on my trip to Mozambique, Africa and Church of the Savior in Washington D.C. Some of the entries from Africa brought tears to my eyes.
While at Church of the Savior we heard a number of amazing practitioners, one in particular jumped out at me tonight (I am re-reading some of my thoughts so I can shape my dissertation proposal), it was a talk given by a man named Bill Haley. Bill had just returned from a trip around the world visiting Christian communities that were or had been successful in bringing about personal, societal and global transformation. (Sidebar – I was struck by the fact that five years later we use similar language in our community about following Christ to serve others in three realms: personal, local and global). He talked about Wilberforce and the Clapham’s (social reformers within the Church of England.
Bill then talked about small communities of Christians committed to prayer, study and service as the most powerful tool in God’s hand for personal, societal and global transformation. Then went on to name some of the groups he studied and visited:
The Sisters of Charity
The Iona Community
Various monastic communities
Church of the Savior
The common denominators he found:
1. The Communities are Christ centered – Jesus is the reason they exist and they know him as a suffering God
2. There was some degree of life together
3. They had strong leadership – leaders that had a strong inner sense and a focus “what is not yet needs to be done” there are things God wants to do in the world
4. There was a great willingness within the community to live sacrificially
5. There was a profound reliance on prayer
6. There was an external goal – the entire community internalized an external goal, namely, they existed for other people, social justice was equated with loving God
7. There was shared discipline
8. There was a high expectation for membership (individualism was not part of their language or practice) they realized they could get more done with 10 committed people than 100 people who were not committed to the mission
9. They all had a commitment to commitment – you choose how you live

Here was Bill’s definition of Christian community:
An interdependent group of Christians whose lives are centered around Jesus and ordered by love, who share common goals and common commitments and who together intentionally seek to love God and love their neighbor.


  1. Great post, and great reminders.

    I’m interested in his assessment of Iona Community in particular. I visited Iona last fall and learned from John Bell and some other members. I had mixed feelings visiting them – a wonderful community with a passionate social justice focus. I didn’t learn much about their membership entry points. But I was uneasy with some of their prayer and words (and with one community member that I met in particular) which had pantheistic tendencies. Celtic Christianity is quite panentheistic in focus, but there’s a huge difference between “God is in the waves and the wind”, and “God is the waves and the wind”.

    Comment by Pat — March 4, 2008 @ 10:47 am

  2. Pat, I don’t have anything in my notes about how he described Iona Community. I remember him mostly talking about the Sisters of Charity, L’Brie and Church of the Savior.

    I agree with you about pantheistic views of God “in” and God “is” are very different views.

    Comment by Rose — March 4, 2008 @ 12:04 pm

  3. I miss Church of the Savior. I want to go back for another Taste and See (Come and See?). The ethos just bleeds into you, doesn’t it? I don’t kinow the Sisters of Charity so well, but L’Brie is a wonderful place as well.

    I’m excited to see how your thesis is coming! It’s going to be really helpful I can already tell.

    Comment by Pat — March 5, 2008 @ 4:42 pm

  4. I keep forgetting to ask – do you know what Bill Haley is up to these days?

    Comment by Pat — March 5, 2008 @ 4:43 pm

  5. […] the thesis for her doctoral dissertation and writing about missional churches and leadership.Ā  In this entry, she writes about a trip she made to Church of the Savior in Washington, DC, and one of the […]

    Pingback by Effective Christian communities « Pat Loughery — March 5, 2008 @ 6:13 pm

  6. I don’t know what has happened to him. I think it was a Come and See event šŸ™‚

    Comment by rose — March 5, 2008 @ 7:00 pm

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