Epworth History & Mission

Epworth History & Mission

What is the Epworth Project?

The Epworth Project is a network of missional, new monastic residential communities in the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex where people live in intentional community. Persons living in the houses follow a rule of life, that is, disciplined daily and weekly rhythms of prayer, hospitality, work, and outreach. A house pastor guides the community in its practice. Persons living in the Epworth communities are students and/or are employed in outside jobs.

Epworth communities are designed to support a 1-4 year learning experience for most of the residents who participate in the program. Persons who are accepted into the Epworth Project are there to learn to live in a new monastic community so that after they leave the Epworth Project they may go on to form new monastic communities elsewhere, or may take the new monastic rhythms they have learned into whatever ministry context they engage in the future. Rent is partially or fully subsidized by the Missional Wisdom Foundation. Residents are responsible for their own utilities, food, and other living expenses.

In a nutshell these are communities that teach a different set of Christian leadership skills that are grounded in community formation around practices of prayer, hospitality, and justice.

History

The Epworth Project began in 2007 with extended conversation and prayer between Elaine Heath and several of her students who longed to form residential communities that practiced new monastic rhythms of life. Having read the work of Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Shane Claiborne, and in some cases having visited communities such as Koinonia Farm, these early participants felt that residential, intentional communities were an integral part of God’s plan for the emerging forms of church in the 21st century. The Epworth Project is intentionally geared to resource the historically mainline church.

The first house was founded in north Garland, Texas, in 2008, with three students from Perkins School of Theology. Today there are several houses located in very different social contexts and residents include a mix of students, persons working in non-profits, refugees, clergy, and others. The Epworth Project residents are from every economic strata, various races, nationalities, and theological orientations. They range in age from early twenties to mid sixties. Both single and married people participate in the Epworth Project. Houses tend to be single gender, but in some cases are mixed gender. We have experimented with all manner of houses, apartments, and duplexes to determine the best living arrangements when married people with children live in community. We have discovered that the specific people involved and the space available, determine the best configuration.

Missional Focus

Each house tends to have a particular missional focus. The members of the Bonhoeffer House, for example, work mostly among the urban homeless population located around the house. Casa Oscar Romero members are primarily engaged in the mission of Christ’s Foundry, a mission church in a Hispanic neighborhood where Casa Romero is located in West Dallas. The Amani House focuses on refugees. Residents are required to serve a minimum of four hours per week in the missional outreach of their house, and to worship in a multi-cultural, missional congregation such as New Day. These requirements ensure that the experience is fully immersive in a missional, new monastic lifestyle.

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