a true means of hope

The Church… has a unique role to play, for the estrangement experienced by modern humanity flows fundamentally from the loss of true community. That is what the band of those committed to the Good News can restore. A beginning point for their witness is the setting forth of a model for community which rests on new values and embodies the first signs of a New Order in the world. Economically, socially, racially, and spiritually, such new communities can point the way to the rest of the world, and become true means of hope for us all to build a future of promise and creativity. – Mark Hatfield

In June 1979, almost thirty-three years ago, several of us began the Society of St. Andrew, which we called “an intentional community for covenant living.” We were attempting to accomplish exactly what Senator Hatfield is describing in the above quoted statement. We were trying to model a community based on relationships rather than consumerism and acquisition. Just how effective our witness was is up to question, but the impact of such a new model for community on those of us within the Society of St. Andrew was profound.

And from that new model has come a great number of effective and powerful national and international programs for the poor and hungry that continue to save hundreds of thousands lives every year. The Potato Project, the Harvest of Hope, the Gleaning Network, and the Virginia Hunters for the Hungry all provide millions of meals for hungry citizens in this country. And Stop Hunger Now works in over 65 nations providing  millions of meals annually to school children who otherwise would not eat.

What means the most to me is that all these programs are volunteer driven. Not only are millions being fed, hundreds of thousands of┬ácompassionate and┬ácaring people are provided the opportunity to reach out and make a real difference in the lives of those most in need. That’s not too bad for just one attempt to develop a new model of community. As my first and favorite bishop was fond of saying,”that’s definitely no small thing.” Maybe new models of community are a true means of hope.