Opening the Door to the Open Door

Submitted by Joshua Enns on February 13, 2014 - 11:35am
Re-visiting and Learning from Intentional Christian community

Jubilee Partners, the Iona Community, Findhorn, the Mennonite Worker, and now The Open Door. Over the past several years, I have begun a journey of looking at life in intentional communities that focus on living out the work of liberation in many different forms. To continue to explore and learn what it means to live as a follower of Christ, for liberation, in varying degrees of community, I am now going on a trip to the Open Door Community in Atlanta Georgia.

A bit of background:

During my trip to Jubilee partners two years ago I was introduced to their sister community, The Open Door. The Open Door community is “a residential community in the Catholic Worker tradition that seeks to dismantle racism, sexism and heterosexism, abolish the death penalty, and proclaim the Beloved Community through loving relationships with some of the most neglected and outcast of God’s children: the homeless and our sisters and brothers who are in prison. They also advocate on behalf of the oppressed, homeless and prisoners through non-violent protests, grassroots organizing and the publication of our monthly newspaper, Hospitality."

I remember visiting briefly with a volunteer from the Open Door in 2012 who was visiting Jubilee Partners at that time and being inspired by it. Upon returning from Jubilee Partners, I decided to read "The Cry of the Poor: Cracking White Male Supremacy—An Incendiary and Militant Proposal," by one of the co-founders of the Open Door, Ed Loring, and have been wanting to visit them down in Georgia ever since!

This coming week is an opportunity to learn through walking with those who live out scripture with a focus on preferential treatment for the poor. To visit and dialogue with people who are willing to reduce the distance between themselves and the lives of the homeless poor and the prisoner. To learn from people who follow, day-in and day-out, in the humble, loving, often bleeding, footsteps of Jesus, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Hebrew prophets, Gandhi, Malcolm X, Dorothy Day and Ched Myers to name a few. We will be alongside these people, serving breakfasts and soup-kitchen lunches, cleaning, managing phones, provide showers and changes of clothes, help with the free medical clinic, foot clinic, take part in worship services and meetings for the clarification of thought, and listening and learning from our hosts.

As we learn and serve we have thought about three key areas to focus our questing:

Sustainable logistics of community life with the poor, oppressed, and others:

How does the Open Door community work? How do members maintain living their work day in, day out? How does the ‘inner work’ of social justice play out? How do members find time to energize? How does the Open Door: engage conflict in community politics and relationships in healthy/unique ways; maintain close community without appearing exclusive to others; maintain funding and cope with financial stresses and insecurities?

On relationships:

What is an authentic relationship? How do we/you perceive our/your relationships with people you/we serve, each other, volunteers, community members and others? How to work at building authentic relationships across class/race? How does the Open Door navigate creating an inviting stance as an open Jesus follower/Christian despite the baggage that comes with religion and Christianity?

Discernment, Calling and Vocation:

How can we manage such a strong stance on social justice? What does it mean to open our door to the poor, to resistance, to Jesus, to the work of liberation? How do you/we decide what to be involved with, or when to be involved, as individuals and as a community? What type of room is there for interplay between local and global work for social justice and liberation?

In short, I am excited to travel with 3 others this coming week to meet and learn from some amazing people at the Open Door Community as I continue my search for places and reasons to love, live, and work in humble, strong willed, intentional communities in the hopes of continuing to sculpt myself, those I exist around, and all things towards a deeper understanding of love.

Got to love Authenticity

Wow Joshua this is really exciting.  I am really jelous, I wish icould join you on your journey.  I have always had a fascination with intentional communities and I am currently part of a group that is developing one in Guelph.

In particular I am interested in your questions around authentic relationships.  I look forward to reading the rest of your blogs.

Thanks for sharing!

Hi Josh,

Thanks for sharing about this amazing opporunity- and for providing some great context, links and resources!

These are really great questions to be asking- really looking forward to what you discover when you are there!