The WaySide Community
by Diane Rheos, current
Launch & Lead student

The WaySide Community came about when pastor Linda Quanstrom had two unconnected conversations with church members. Diane Rheos is a Launch and Lead participant and had been sharing with her about Missional Wisdom and her search for intentional community. Soon after, Nathan and Laurel Howard mentioned to her that they had been researching intentional community. "Miraculously" at the same time, the lease on the Fremont United Methodist Church parsonage came up.

A new community carried by the flow of generosity.

It's amazing how fast our first four months have gone by! We began The WaySide, our intentional community, last November. Our house is located in the parsonage of Fremont United Methodist Church, in Portland, Oregon.

It will probably come as no surprise that we have been a little disappointed with how slow it's been to get some of our plans started, and we can already see that some plans might not manifest. At the same time there are blessings and sweet experiences that have been unplanned and unexpected.

For me the overarching spirit of generosity has been the sweetest, most unexpected blessing.

I have been blessed by a housemate bringing me a cup of tea when I was exhausted on the couch. Blessed by finding the counters clean because I said I would appreciate having them wiped down. Blessed by seeing how my housemates change their normal patterns in respect for mine. I too, try to be generous, doing the dishes for a dinner that they shared with me outside of our schedule, making a repair so that a door closes properly, stopping to buy milk when I don't drink it. It has been the little things, not the big ones, that have made me feel that we are a community running on generosity.

The spirit of generosity begins with our anchor church. People have donated to a fund for household improvements and bought us a new washer/dryer. They ask us continually how it's going and how they can support us. Their curiosity and interest surround us with good will.

We have a lead team from our congregation which we call The WaySide-Outside. Our exploration with them is amazing. None of us have had clear expectations for the team. But as we meet with them they feel like a cheering squad. They want us to succeed, they are willing to live into the experiment with us. We have only had a few meetings with them so far, but they are already working to see how they can take a journey parallel to ours in their own lives. They have offered to come help prepare food, to host and to be the extroverted welcome, to finance our needs, to be there to talk things out.

Our Abbot asks the right questions, checks in with us, suggests ways to guide our studies, offers experience and common sense guidance. In his busy life he takes the time to be invested in our experiment and our success.

It took us a while to create our own “Rule of Life.” As we have met and talked about why we have chosen intentional community, there are four areas that are our focus. Those four categories are now the structure of our “Rule of Life” and how we want to express our generosity with each other and with our community.

Individual Growth: Individually, we have goals of how and what we want to develop. Together, we hold a morning study two days a week. So far we have had some great conversations, sharing our diverse backgrounds and way of seeing things, reading scripture, a blog post, or a quote and seeing how that can inform our learning. We are generous with each other and want the best for each other individually.

Fremont UMC Community: Our intention is to be generous with our church home. We want to build and deepen relationships as well as increase our contributions to the vitality of what we can achieve together. Right now we are inviting young families over for dinner with some seasoned adults so that the diverse groups can get to know each other better. Each of us serve on a different church committee, keep each other aware of what is happening, and support their involvement. We have shoveled snow, checked doors, helped with projects and asked what else we can do.

Service in Community: As a group we serve together - serving at the food bank and working to help our seniors with tasks they need help with. We will be identifying ways for our WaySide-Outside team to join us on bi-monthly service projects.

Connecting to Community: We are focused on knowing more about our immediate community and helping our church have more awareness, as well. One of us belongs to the neighborhood association, we follow the neighborhood schools on Facebook, and read the neighborhood newsletters. Then we make sure we share with our housemates what we learn about. Weekly we choose one school or organization to pray for and research their website to learn about them.

We have been living the question: how can we add value to the lives of others in our four focus areas? How can we be generous in community? Generosity is generative! The more I experience it, the more willing I am to give it. I have been so touched by the generosity of our anchor church, and touched by the generosity that exists in our neighborhood community. It’s been a lovely surprise to experience the flow of generosity that I am living in.  Feeling supported, I can do more because I belong to community.

The WaySide has an open room! Want to join us in Portland?