Following two full months of moving into the Christian Education wing of Aldrich, I have begun to see some patterns of life together and have taken some lessons from those who have come before me regarding intentional communal housing.
Most recently, I have worked with my roommate to determine our rhythms and create communal procedures, though our pastor and staff did much of the brainstorming and drafting. In the documents we drafted, one of them written for an article used in the Christian Examiner, there is an outline of four different forms of vows with different ways to practice accountability. I have taken the two that are most appropriate for my situation previously as a pastoral intern and currently as an abbot at Aldrich.
Someone who is a resident of a Community home… must be willing to abide by community house values and discipline, commit to working for the wellbeing of the church, and vow to their housemates to live in their home with humility, gentleness, and love. Someone who is an abbot/prioress for a Community home submits major life decisions to the leadership of the Church. They vow to the church that they will put the life and interests of the congregation and the residents before their own.
Going from a resident of eight different community homes during the last three years, I have started to shift responsibilities to becoming an abbot. As I do so, I have seen how much time, energy, and sense of self it takes to create space that is hospitable for the community (i.e., mainly for my roommate, but also for anyone who comes through the doors of Aldrich). My roommate and I both create that space together by living our days with the vision of radical hospitality and loving care for one another first before we practice with anyone else. My role as abbot has taught me to be “first amongst equals.” As a community leader, I have committed to the following:
- ●Govern the house without being intimated or seeking to please members of the household… and make reasonable decisions knowing the capacities and weaknesses of individuals.
- ●Be available at all times for the residents of the home to discuss personal matters, as well as to hear community difficulties and to resolve conflict among housemates. Housemates are expected to initiate conversation concerning any problems.
- ●Remain accountable to the church, the pastoral staff and the session.
- ●Organize and lead the community rhythm and cleaning
These have been particularly difficult as I see myself having many people-pleasing tendencies and also in the way I communicate.
My background as a pastor’s kid, as well as, my family history still has residue in the way I am self-conscious in the way I lead others. I call myself a follower of Christ, and yet, I am still concerned with the approval of others. The second reason I find it hard to live into these commitments is because of my type of speech (high-context) and how different it is from my roommates (low context). My indirect way of speaking has gotten me into more than a handful of heated conversations. However, I am sharing an understanding of creating hospitable social space like tidiness in communal spaces, and an open understanding of privacy that I have learned to be more Christian. Lastly, I have enjoyed my roommate, now fully present as he no longer is going abroad. Our daily prayer, check-ins, weekly cleanings, and work projects I cherish very much.
KC Kye is currently serving as an intern for the Presbyterian Multicultural Network for the PCUSA. He also directs the youth at Church of All Nations, serves on the Presbyterian Cross Cultural Young Adult Network and loves to do anything outdoors.