Except from Take My Hand 2015
It has been more than a year since we began using the last public building built on the ARI campus, the Oikos Chapel. In fact, I can remember how in the Autumn of 2014 I and others were so excited about the new building soon to be dedicated… and now it seems as if Oikos has been there since the beginning!
When we opened Oikos chapel we went through a very intentional process of deciding how and when to use the space for both personal reflection and spiritual growth, and of course for community reflection and spiritual growth. One of my fears was that we might limit the usages if we created too many regulations. This is why I am happy to share that Oikos Chapel has been widely used and is cherished by many, both in the ARI Community and those in the greater community.
Fittingly, with daily Morning Gathering being the focus of our usage, it is truly where we become a true Oikos, or feel as part of God’s family. A place where we sing and pray, laugh and cry, share and ponder about life and how we are experiencing it. Where is God in all of this, and what does it mean to grow spiritually? These are two questions that we are continually invited to think about as we listen and learn from one another.
Yet this is not the only usage of this new family home. Almost every evening and morning you can find people there. The Chapel is a personal space for personal devotions and prayer, as well as a gathering place for communal song and prayer. The voices of the ARI gospel Choir, MINNGOS, can be heard every Tuesday night and you will find a small group intently pondering scriptures on Thursday nights. The small tatami room near the entrance has heard many conversations. From private counseling and group consultations during the day and evening to the daily morning farm planning meeting, people huddle in turns around the beautiful wooden table. We also have discovered the Chapel is a wonderful place, with great acoustics, to record our community CD, ARI Voices, every November.
But beyond this, we are so happy that others in the community have found an important place to gather. A Korean worship service met every Sunday Afternoon for 7 months, and local groups have often requested use of the Oikos chapel for their worship services. Local artists gathered one night to sing for Nepal, in a widely successful and meaningful charity concert this past Summer in response to the earthquake. We’ve also had several opportunities in Oikos Chapel to hear about the lives and work of ARI graduates, and to find a greater meaning in the mission that we all share together.
I believe God is molding the Oikos chapel into a place where many people come to form a family, a home, a place where our hearts and lives are moved and transformed. Won’t you come and join this family?
Jonathan McCurley, ARI Community Life Coordinator, UMC missionary