Our Legacy

Context: A Brainstorm of Components

We seem to be currently engaged in a number of conversations about the legacy of our community. One that some of us participated in during July, 2010 is with faculty members and students at Oklahoma City University. We met to explore working together to develop a curriculum for future social change agents.

It has raised again the question of just what we mean when we talk about our "legacy." We know that it includes but is far more than the treasured contents of a bunch of file cabinets. We know that others down the road who study and research the social, political and spiritual movements of the second half of the 20th century will come to their own conclusions about what it was or may be at a particular future moment in time. The question for us is whether we'd like a shot at being part of this conversation.

This is an opportunity for those of us from the community who are still more or less alive and kicking to point to some aspects of who we are, who we've been or what we've done that we think should not be overlooked in any discussion of that legacy. We're launching this conversation on the Dialogue and OE listservs, since that's where most of us currently most connect to one another. Len Hockley and I then intend to transfer some of what we generate there to this page, to have it continue to be accessible over time.

This past week, Roxana and I hosted a small gathering here in Seattle that consisted of Dorothea Jewell, Carol Crow, Nancy Lanphear, Lee and Leah Early and ourselves. I proposed that we be the guinea pigs for this endeavor, take a couple minutes to write down our individual brainstorms, then share what some of these components or elements or aspects of our legacy might be. What follows as the start of this listing is simply what we came up with in this very brief time. We didn't try to evaluate or refine our ideas (it was a brainstorm); that can come later. What we wanted was whatever popped up in our consciousness at the moment as things we felt to be important or valuable in that elusive reality we refer to as our legacy. The final item on this initial go-round was contributed by Mark Phillips at last week's gathering to celebrate the Wiltsee's 50th wedding anniversary.

What you see below at this point is raw brainstorm and all over the place--unorganized, ungestalted, unquestionably overlapping, apples and oranges and hopelessly incomplete. We invite you to be part of it. You can add to the material here or on the listservs, where it will then also be directly shared with most of us. As the items here expand, we'll likely get into some concurrent conversations about what some of these all too brief (and to others, I fear, largely incomprehensible) words and phrases actually point to. This is only a starting point.

Welcome to the Legacy Conversation --

  • Imaginal Education
  • Contradictional Analysis / looking for the root causes
  • Grassroots local community development
  • Consensus formation process
  • Rituals, stories, songs and symbols
  • Grounding in The Way Life Is
  • Comprehensiveness: history long and world wide
  • Depth dialogue
  • RS-I / existential, life questions
  • Intentional community
  • The rational and the intuitive
  • Mapping the spirit interior
  • Stance that life is good
  • Social Process dynamics
  • Life as mission, work as vocation
  • The secular religious order
  • Starting from a shared vision
  • 5th City Principles
  • ToP facilitation methods
  • The Global Servant Force
  • Curriculum building process
  • Art-Form Method
  • Solitary and corporate practices (rood screen, canonical hours, the Odyssey)
  • Contentless methods
  • Story is key
  • Team accountability and absolution
  • Transrational thinking
  • Singing that rehearsed the life understanding
  • Use of decor
  • The 4 x 4 lecture building method
-- GordonHarper - 06 Dec 2010

John Cock

  • Fifth City

    global assignments


    "bending history"

    RS-I pedagogy


    Town Meeting/GCF

    Ignatian Retreat

    "all the earth belongs to all"

    maneuver ( Art of War)

    summer assemblies

    the League

    "crimson line"



    Briefcase LIbrary



    Religious House



    Ann Shafer

    We excited the spirit out of diverse people who had little idea of the creativity or passion within.

    We discovered a way for thinking and working together that was greater than combining our individual selves.

    We brought the eternal word of possibility to the least.

    We celebrated

    MariAnna Bailey

    Summer Research Assemblies, both structure, content and decor

    The month of detailed planning for the Religious House deployment. I wonder if that even exist in the archives.

    Geri Tolman

    the "2 suitcases" model

    MariAnna Bailey

    Yes, for the first 4, which actually turned out to be 5, Chicago South being the 5th, It was Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta and (someone help me out ?) The two suitcases probably developed after we took all that "stuff" to the houses and then were re-assigned! I know we left everything in Los Angeles that didn't fit into two suitcases!

    Terry Bergdall

    1. the incredible simplicity/complexity of RS-1;

    2. an understanding of "your external situation is never your problem;"

    3. image change as the key to social change;

    4. a comprehensive approach to community development (especially the cruciality of addressing the underlying depth human problem of "victimization");

    5. walking the talk through embodiment of the "bug model" (focus on intellectual and symbolic community life on the "internal" side of community complemented by witnessing and justing love through "external" engagement).

    Randy Williams

    The Social Process and Corporate Process as dynamic systems, and the practical application of both through LENS.

    The interdependence of Internal Life and External Mission.

    Ur Images and the role and value of religious pluralism.

    The analysis of social imbalance (economic dominance, political subservience, cultural collapse), even more relevant today than then.

    Practical demonstration (embodying the trans-establishment) of how responsibility exists only in the tension between freedom and obedience.

    Framing as a tool for initiating cross-cultural collaboration.

    Frank Knutson







    All is Good, Accepted . . ..

    Commonness: methods, study, Order Report . . . Global Because of commonness, on assignment one could go from Timbuktu to Richgrove and hit the road running the first day.

    Experimentation – on B1/2 of

    Summer Assemblies; all paid the same no matter if you came from LA or Chicago

    All time assigned time.

    Power in middle of table

    Triangles, 4x4x4s . . .

    Jann McGuire

    Accountability/Absolution at meals transformed the Fall/Redemption theology of my fundamentalist past.

    The Ecclesiola format is perfect for community gathering: ritual, study and workshop. It fleshed out the Bug Model.

    Jim Wiegel

    1. Tips on how "domestic partners" can flex, bend, be global, manage a household, be gracious, host people, manage and love the creative tension and everything that comes with it . . .

    2. The notion of "mission", the "sensitive and responsive part", "social pioneer" "representational responsibility" has certainly become part of the everyday lexicon of organizations, communities and the lives of people and groups. Every organization has a mission these days. Can't help but think all those Church lectures and Niebuhr seminars contributed.

    3. Walk upon the planet, all those places. David Wood, when he retired from the Board, said (something like), "For years people told us we should get out into the real world, and, when we did, we found a world much bigger, and filled with things that the "real world" was hardly aware of. It is hard to find a place to go where there are not traces . . . I was talking with a woman this morning who worked 10 years in Zimbabwe "doing (some of ) what we do" and never even encountered the ICA there, got a google alert yesterday about the impact of the consult method / lens / strategic planning on the formation of universities in the former soviet union . . .

    4. Awakening, giving a nudge and support to sensitive and engaged global leadership in several areas. The book from the Mathews legacy event in Washington, DC is replete with testimony from church leaders. Though I do not have documentation, I believe the same is true out of the Global Women's Forum work re: women's leadership around the world, and out of LENS treks re: leadership in corporations and organizational leadership as well.

    5. The capacity for collapse and rebirth. Certainly, the old collective story (Christian Faith and Life Community -- Bam!, move to Evanston -- Bam!, local church experiment -- Bam!, replication -- Bam! -- ICA USA and ICA International are replaying this great pattern just now), then there are the stories of our personal lives and those we have worked with, and our families -- life and death and life and death and life and death and . . .

    David Walters

    - Singing, even for those like me who can't sing that good.

    - Daily Office, as the most important tijng we do, as in reheasing who we are.

    - Collegiality, our stance towards each other.

    - Brainstorm/ Gestalt Method, for creating models that we all participate in creating something new.

    - Celebrations, what we did togather on the other side of fininshing something.

    John Cock

    1. existential address -- RS-I and pedagogy

    2. life-giving community -- the Order:Ecumenical

    3. "the earth belongs to all" -- which I keep growing into

    4. transparency -- that the Other World is in this world, always happening

    5. "Fifth City to the World" -- social demonstration

    6. our knowing, doing, and being methods -- especially our spirit methods

    7. Ignatian Retreat -- still wondering if it had transforming power

    Mary Hampton

    SK song (Oh, I don't want to go to work today...)

    "I am always falling down"

    all is good, the past is approved, the future is open

    free, free, free to decide

    Much of what I hold dear and refer to comes in song.

    Phyllis Hockley

    RS1, Particularly the Church Lecture. I was looking for something worth investing my life in. And lying down on the barbed wire so others could move on and over, seemed an interesting way to give your life.

    Teaching RS1 to the EG. I had them crawl thru this big box and while in the middle experience the no longer and the not yet.

    Student House The chance to connect with kids missing family connections.

    Training, Inc Putting Imaginal Education into practice daily.

    Pre-schools in our HDPs Creating fun challenging curriculum

    Imaginal Education Summer Course Creating RS1 curriculum for 5th graders and teaching it all year

    Culture explosion Living in all Moslem village with witch doctor and shape changer, participating in Ramadan for 1 month, visiting Buddhist monks in Korea

    Playing with Time The Odyssey,

    Typing all night to finish documents for summer program

    Deep Colleagueship

    Cookiing for RS1s,

    Teaching RS1,

    Teaching Global Language School,

    Religious House Life

    Karen Bueno

    All people are God's people.

    All time of the people of God is assigned time.

    All diverse gifts are welcomed and honored by the people of God

    Singing together solidifies community.

    To respond with "Yes" to the "tag on my toe" takes courage and steadfastness.

    The challenge throughtout life is to not "sell my violin".

    George Holcombe


    5th City



    The 24


    Able to live as the Order in community and diaspora Learning what it means to be a colleague in the world ..and all that other stuff we've been writing about.

    Bill Bailey

    The understanding that we were living in the "no longer and not yet" building many other voices and people of action) a bridge to a new spirituality.

    Fred Lanphear

    Community: An Order Legacy

    Our family interned in the Indianapolis House in 1971. We were committed to the mission of the Ecumenical Institute and in the process, we discovered community. The communal style of living we experienced was not imaged as an end in itself, but rather a vehicle to more effectively enable the mission to be actualized. It became increasingly evident, as the mission unfolded, that sustaining the integrity of the community was foundational to accomplishing the mission. In retrospect, a primary legacy of the Order Ecumenical is the experience of living together in intentional community. It was a community of individuals whose lives were transformed and who continue to catalyze social change across the world.

    Leaving the home we had built for us in a suburban development in West Lafayette, Indiana to move into a communal setting in the inner city of Indianapolis was not an easy transition. Our three children, ages 4, 8, and 10, would tell you it was very difficult. They were the only Caucasian children in their class. The teacher of our blonde-haired son Bruce called him her “little dandelion”. As the minority kids, they experienced some understandable reluctance and fear of going to school.

    One of the difficult transitions for us as adults was leaving our secure lifestyles and being faced with the daunting task of finding jobs to help support the community. As we were often re-assigned from one city to another, the task of finding new jobs and re-locating the children in new schools was a re-occurring dilemma. When our assignments took us into third-world countries and the children reached an age when they were not with us, the difficulties intensified. What sustained us in these settings were the intentional community patterns that established a strong cultural context and practices that gave meaning to everything we did. Nancy and I have carried these patterns with us as we participate in creating community in the work place and in our residential community.

    The community patterns were designed to provide a sense of balance to our lives. There was time set aside for family and discontinuity as well as time for study and work. Rituals, or rehearsing the context, the why of what we were doing, was foundational to the community patterns that sustained us. Singing was another daily activity that nurtured us as a community. There were occasions to honor the individuals in the community as on their birthdays and at other times of transition or rites of passage.

    At the core of our life together was a willingness to trust. We relied on each other, whether that was in taking responsibility for our various tasks in mission or in taking care of each other’s children. Nancy and I had the honor and challenge of being legal guardians and directors of the youth program with 30-35 adolescents. We were very clear of the trust that had been placed in us by the parents of the youth, just as we had entrusted others to care for our own children. This was not a “blind” or naive trust. It recognized our human propensities, our vulnerabilities, and then acted in ways that took this into account, such as assigning individuals with compensating strengths to balance the weaknesses of others.

    As important as trust was the willingness to forgive. We were confronted daily with the reality that our community consisted of individuals with many imperfections. No matter how well intended we were, each of us contributed our dysfunctional patterns into the daily life of the community. Some were subtle, others stretched our capacity to forgive.

    There was a bit of fear and trepidation whenever we took on a new assignment and found ourselves living together with individuals and families with different lifestyles and perspectives. In India, we were often the only Westerners living with 15 to 20 young Indian village staff. Yet what we discovered was, that not only did we have the ability to flex and adapt, but we came to trust and deeply appreciate our colleagues and their children. They became our extended family. We ate together, sang and celebrated together, shared stories about our lives with each other, as we engaged in our common mission of caring for the villages of India.

    After 17 years of being with the Order Ecumenical we re-entered the mainstream and began forging our own life patterns and sense of mission. In returning to the states in 1989 we wanted to continue living in community. I began to realize that creating community had become my life’s work. This calling is in response to the sense of disconnectedness that has emerged out of the individualism of the latter part of the 20th Century. Community is about establishing meaningful relationships and authentic connections of self, family, friends and colleagues.

    Community in the Work Place: Creating community in the work place has been a challenging and meaningful task. In 1989, we left our last Order assignment in India and came to Seattle where we began searching for jobs. I was fortunate to secure a position as the CEO in an acupuncture school. When the clinic receptionist position opened two weeks after I started work, Nancy took it and became an integral part of a 10-year journey of creating community where we both worked.

    The central purpose of the school was the academic training it provided, but the heart of the institution was the community clinic and the caring service it offered to anyone regardless of their ability to pay. As the school grew and was able to expand its clinical services it established clinics to serve refugees, addicts, homeless youth, elderly, low-income groups, and inmates of a minimum-security jail. There was a clear sense of mission and significant opportunities for all of us to act out our care.

    Maintaining a sense of community was not easy. We established a participatory style of management with a consensual form of decision-making as a core dynamic. In the initial years, financial constraints and individualistic patterns were major challenges. As the institute began to flourish, the stress of rapid growth and development became the central challenge. In addition to the strong sense of mission, there were other dynamics put in place that were crucial to sustaining the community.

    Developing a culture that enhanced relationships was crucial. Even as our student body tripled and our patients were over a thousand at any one time, we worked at greeting each person by name. We incorporated rituals and practices that honored the significance of each individual, not only in the work place, but in their personal lives. Birthday celebrations included asking “Order” questions of significant events of the past year and challenges for the coming year, followed by affirmations. Graduation also incorporated affirmations of each graduate, initially done by Nancy, but in later years the students did it themselves.

    Establishing a culture that balanced the needs of the individual with the needs of the larger community was the fundamental challenge. Core values centered around trust, expecting the best of each employee and doing whatever was necessary to empower personal responsibility. These expectations were informed by participatory strategic planning resulting in clear objectives for each of us. Accountability, accompanied by appropriate affirmation and practical forgiveness when necessary, helped keep us on course.

    Undergirding all of this was a focus on spirit. Creating and telling the story of who we were and what we were about as a healing and learning community was key. Creating meaningful symbols and surrounding ourselves with art reminded us of our Asian cultural connections. Publications conveyed an image consistent with our uniqueness. All of this was about building a sustainable community culture.

    Residential Community: Creating intentional community in our home place has been equally meaningful. When we were looking for a place to live after India, the one requirement we would not compromise was living in community. We would only locate where there was an intentional community of which we could become members. The opportunity to be a part of the Residential Learning Center (RLC) in Bothell, WA was accepted with delight. The mission of the RLC was a continuation of the youth program known as the Student House we had been affiliated with in 1980. However, it became clear after about one year that this was no longer a viable program and a new vision for the community was required.

    The following year was a time for study, exploration of other models and lots of planning. The vision that grew out of this was a multi-generational cohousing community with a biocentric focus, which in practice looks like “living lightly on the land”. We wrote our values, which became our mission statement, and then began inviting others to join us. The cohousing model of community was different than we had experienced in the Order. It offered a helpful balance between the need for privacy and community as each family has its own private dwelling and the common house becomes the place for all to gather.

    Creating a sustainable community culture has been the primary consideration. We spent six months deciding a name that would capture the spirit of who we are. It was one of those “aha” occasions when the name “Songaia” was suggested. It captures our relation to the earth through the Greek goddess Gaia and the fact that we are a community that sings. Songaia, “song of the living earth”, has been a very sustaining symbol for us. Singing itself is an ongoing healing dynamic. It signifies our sense of connection and willingness to engage in common activities, while symbolizing our collective harmony.

    Giving form to our values is a continuing challenge. Gardening, bulk purchasing of food, and sharing of resources, e.g. laundry, mower, tools, are practical ways we embody our values. Sharing Circles, planning meetings, workdays, child-care, and community celebrations are a few of the ways we organize and order our lives. Establishing structures and individually working at building relationships that instill trust and cooperation are the “glue” that sustains us. It is not unlike the dynamics of family life. In fact, we consider our community to be like an extended family of choice.

    Recovering community is not just a dream, it is a necessary context for life. The legacy of creating and sustaining community is the purpose for making Order spirit methods accessible to all.

    -- 09 Mar 2010

  • Topic revision: r7 - 22 Dec 2010, LenHockley
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