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

Gathered and Scattered: The Life and Legacy of a Countercultural Christian Community (working title) details how an unusual model of church unfolded over the full course of its life, in this case 51 years. When the Community of Christ, an ecumenical congregation in Washington, D.C., ceased worshiping together in 2016, it extended its legacy of concern for social justice by transferring 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.

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 “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.

Gathered and Scattered is for people seeking real stories of discipleship and peacemaking lived out in the messiness of Christian community.

It is also for all with church-related grief, for a community that was once a home for them and those who are still searching.