by Ryan Klinck
Bonhoeffer House, an Epworth House in East Dallas, has been going through a transformation this past summer. One of the original members and the house steward of the house, Adam White, transitioned out of the house to be married (hooray!) at the beginning of the summer. The remaining members began to pay attention and pray together about this new season the house found itself in. We felt the need to do a deep listening to the community to discern where we were at. So, we sat down and listened to each other. We then sat down with several of our homeless friends to hear what they thought and how they were experiencing the community. Finally, we all sat down together, gathering a newly formed lead team for the ministry of the house, made up of equal parts house resident, neighbors, and homeless friends.
In that sacred place and space, we said to our neighbors and homeless friends, “You are also leaders in this community, and your voice matters. Together, this group of friends became family as we crafted a rule of life together specifically for Bonhoeffer House. We sought to name who we felt we were at this point and who we hope to be as we move forward. Our Rule writes…
Bonhoeffer House is…
- A home or a second home for all who come into our doors, acknowledging that they are part of our family.
- A place that maintains a heart for the homeless and the homesick, especially in our neighborhood of East Dallas and at Southern Methodist University.
- A community that seeks to honor and love all our dysfunctions, embracing each other rather than shaming, with God at our center.
- A place where we will not use our dysfunction to hurt others in our community and beyond.
- A place where we seek communal reconciliation and personal transformation towards holiness.
After crafting this Rule together, we asked the group in light of what we wrote, “What would you like to see done here and what would you like to do?” Our friend Mike said he wanted to start doing projects around the house. Every week since that day he has come and done a project to help around the house. He also started sleeping on our front porch to protect the house after one of our cars was broken into. Sungmoon began to host international students who were homesick at the house, bringing them to our community meal, and offering hospitality. Alice and Chris offered to take leadership up in the bible study we have on Monday nights. Kevin started cooking breakfast for us all on Sunday mornings and buying the food with his own money. Later when Kevin became sick, we offered space in our home for a month for him to stay with us.
By the end of the summer, we found ourselves as a community in relationship with over thirty friends and neighbors, learning to love each other in the midst of our own dysfunctions and what often feels like a dysfunctional world. In all of this experience though, we are learning slowly that the truth is we are all really just homeless and homesick in our various capacities. We are realizing that we need each other, a family who works and listens together to discover who God is in the midst of our stories. We are learning together how to keep God at the center of our lives.