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Church as a way of life

Luke 6 Project to be Christian partner in interfaith community at Stony Point

October 29, 2009

STONY POINT, N.Y.

Editor’s note: This is the second of two stories about Stony Point Center’s Community of Living Traditions, an interfaith community dedicated to nonviolence. — Jerry L. Van Marter

For Christians who will be a part of a new intentional interfaith community at Stony Point Center, the sense of a collective vision was evident from the start.

Stony Point co-directors Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase had been talking about such a community with friends and colleagues, and in February they invited those people to come to the conference center for a stakeholders meeting.
“It was everyone who’d ever talked about creating this thing,” said Kitty Ufford-Chase.

At the end of the meeting, the idea had turned from a “Rick and Kitty” thing to a “we” thing. By the time the group met again in August the members had more ideas for the community, including vows to live by and a name — the Luke 6 Project.

Members are calling themselves a “project” because they’re focused on the building of community, said Kitty Ufford-Chase.

“We wanted it to be humble,” she said. “The road is made by walking.”

The sixth chapter of Luke is “jam-packed with all the good stuff,” said Kitty Ufford-Chase, adding that it contains the Beatitudes, which provide much to study and reflect on. “The heart of it is love your enemies, do good to those who hate you.”

That idea is appropriate for the Luke 6 Project, which will be the Christian partner in the Community of Living Traditions at Stony Point. The Community of Living Traditions is made up of Christian, Muslim and Jewish partners dedicated to nonviolence and peacemaking. Members of the three groups will live at Stony Point in an interfaith community, learning, working and worshipping together.

For its part, the Luke 6 Project is “meant to be some way for Christians who want church to be a way of life and not a Sunday morning once a week,” said Kitty Ufford-Chase, adding that the community was inspired by a monastic order, in which others are “supporting you and holding you accountable with what you intend to do.”

Members of Luke 6 will live by five vows:

  • Spiritual practice and discipline
  • Radical hospitality
  • Vocational peacemaking
  • Making holy the things that sustain
  • Commitment to interfaith partnership

The project aims to bring together spirituality and action. Often, people look at the contemplative and the activist as two different personalities, but this is a false dichotomy, said Kitty Ufford-Chase.

“You can’t have one without the other,” she said. “It’s a recognition that if you want to do more risk-taking, you have to be grounded spiritually ... If you can have branches out there that can sway and reach out and not break, you need strong roots.”

Although Stony Point will be the base for Luke 6 and will host retreats, not all members will live on site. Periodic meetings might take place in smaller geographic groups or via conference call.

Those who do live on site will be more closely working with the Jewish and Muslim partners within the Community of Living Traditions. Together, they’ll explore intercultural and interfaith relationships.

“How do you help people have fruitful relationships with other cultures?” Kitty Ufford-Chase asked. The community will first focus on those who care about such relationships but don’t know where to start.

“You build a community of common experience and that will radiate,” she said. “Because we’re here, we can be that warm embrace.”

The Luke 6 Project and the Community of Living Traditions will offer workshops, camps and other programs at Stony Point, but Kitty Ufford-Chase said she hopes people will also come to simply be, whether they take part in any activities or communities.

“We hope we will attract people just to come,” she said. “Just come and live with us for a week.”

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