By Rev. Sarah Howell-Miller
A foundry is a workshop for casting metal. My only reference for this is a clip from the movie The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers—but there are no orcs or dwarves in this story. This is about The Foundry House, a new intentional living community in Winston-Salem, NC, of which I am Prioress.
I love that the planning team chose the name The Foundry—a reference to John Wesley’s Foundry Church, the center of Methodism in eighteenth century London—for just as metal is poured into a cast and given its shape, living in community serves as a cast in which its members pour themselves to be formed and molded spiritually, mentally, and relationally. The hope for this new community—which is both new and ancient, hearkening back to the earliest days of the Methodist movement and even the beginnings of the Christian church—one that is born out of a collaboration among the Missional Wisdom Foundation, the Yadkin Valley District of the United Methodist Church, Wake Forest Divinity School, New Story Church, and Crossnore School & Children’s Home, is that residents would be shaped to be more relationally connected, more inter-culturally aware, more trauma-informed, more like Christ.
The Foundry offers an opportunity for 8-10 young adults ages 21-30 to experiment with residential Christian community. To be housed in a renovated building on the campus of Crossnore School & Children’s Home in Winston-Salem, NC, the physical space offers private rooms and a shared kitchen, living room, and library where residents will work together to create and live by a rule of life. Residents will engage in service on The Farm at Crossnore, just a short walk from The Foundry, as part of a commitment to justice, reconciliation, and compassion in their local community.
The beautiful setting of Crossnore offers rolling hills and the unexpected sight of a functioning farm in the heart of the city, wedged between the Boston-Thurmond neighborhood (historically a community of color) and the wealthy Buena Vista neighborhood, and bordering Arbor Acres, one of our United Methodist retirement communities. It also offers the context of the Sanctuary model, a trauma-informed standard of care in which all our residents will be steeped from the moment they step on campus. Along with Crossnore’s Sanctuary values, the vision of the Missional Wisdom Foundation—to experiment with and teach about alternative forms of Christian community—are vital grooves in the mold that is The Foundry.
The hope is that the residents will be a mix of graduate students, young professionals, and recent alumni of the Crossnore program transitioning out of foster care. Together, they will learn about intercultural community both in the classroom (at Wake Forest Divinity) and in the day-to-day of living together. We anticipate there will be conflict—if there is no tension, we are not being honest with one another!—but we also expect residents to commit to open communication and a willingness to learn and love across lines of difference.
The big-picture dream for the Foundry House is for it to be a place of hope and healing, a home for hospitality and service, a space that is trauma-informed and honors diversity of background and belief—a picture of the preferred future, not just for its residents, but for all of us. The mold that is The Foundry is shaped by a desire to reconnect with God, with ourselves, with one another, and with creation.
Adapted from the WNCCUMC blog.
By Rev. Sarah Howell-Miller