The La Casa building in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood, Photo by author, October 2019

What You Sow Is a Bare Seed: A Countercultural Christian Community during Five Decades of Change in the Church (working title) tells stories of real-life discipleship geared toward social justice and peacemaking.

Intentionally planted in the inner city in 1965—a time when many churches were leaving—the Community of Christ attracted people disillusioned with religion. The Community of Christ, an ecumenical congregation in Washington, D.C., “distinguished itself from the more-organized church without rejecting it,” one former member says.

Over five decades, members forged a close-knit community, with Catholics and Protestants, evangelicals and Episcopalians, Mennonites and Methodists joining their lives and receiving the Eucharist each week around the same table.

From its start, the Community of Christ strove to live out the principle that contemplation and social action do not need to be divided. It was also primarily led from the pews—or rather, folding chairs—with ordained pastors and priests playing a guiding role.

When the Community of Christ ceased worshiping together in 2016, it transferred its building to a partner in mission, La Clínica del Pueblo. Above the front door, the sign still says La Casa, a name that has endured from its time as a restaurant through its four decades as a worship and public gathering space, now to a Health and Action Center.

Socially active churches today can better understand the present and move into the future by learning about the movements that shaped Christians in past decades.

What You Sow Is a Bare Seed interweaves crucial moments and ideas from that history as they intersected with compelling people who influenced the wider church and world.