This is no fly by night idea of mine, to create Spirit-Centered communities. It is my life's work, given to me by God and reinforced by a heavenly sojourn and by dreams, visions and miracles.
Back in the 60's I lived at Morning Star, a hippy commune outside Occidental, CA and I would visit the Wheeler's Ranch community just over the mountain. Then, in 1970, before my rebirth in Christ (which was Nov. 1973), I felt God's leading to start a community. Twenty-two us carved a spot out of the wilderness, in a virgin British Columbia forest, building a home out of logs and cedar shakes. In March/April of 1974 I was invited by an existing community to come and teach them what I knew about Jesus, God and community. Most of their members had recently been converted via a Christian rock music fest, at the Born Again Barn, in Nova Scotia's Annapolis Valley.
Then around the first of May, 1974, while me and my girlfriend (and soon to be wife) were visiting a couple I met previously, God once again intervened, making it very clear to all 4 of us that we should start a Christian community. And so it was that Northwood Christian Community was founded on a farm on Mt. Hanley, just outside of Middleton, Nova Scotia. It was June of that same year that I was taken to heaven and told that founding communities would be my life's work.
Of course, all the above mentioned communities were short lived. Those experiences were to prepare me for building 3Circles Church Communities. The reasons why those early attempts failed are obvious to me now. Receiving a call to do something is a call to begin planning what one has to do, but back then I was too young to understand the importance of planning and patience. I also had little understanding of people or the darker side of Christianity. And, as I was soon to learn, when one's faith is based on a man-made book about God and God's words rather than on direct, daily communication with the Living WORD of God, people will have their resolve tested by those who don't have such a direct connection and certainty regarding God's will. Such Bible-Centered individuals are easily led and manipulated by those with large egos and a religious agenda. I now realize that those who are Bible-Centered (Protestants) or Church-Centered (Catholics) were never taught how to meditate, how to stop all the stress filled chatter in their brains, how to listen to God and thereby hear God's Living WORD.
When I vowed to start my next community in God's timing, as a young born-again Christian/ex-hippy in the 1970's, I didn't have a clue it would take over three decades before I got the go ahead to begin. I had to unlearn the fundamentalist mindset I was indoctrinated with by those who introduced me to a spiritual rebirth. I had to wait upon God every morning, for decades, in order to understand the basic principles God wanted me to understand. And I had to develop an infrastructure of ideas and businesses which could sustain the first members who would gather and build with us, both mentally and economically.
There were visions and dreams along the way, quite a few miracles, and many things I had to learn and accomplish. In 1984, while walking down a snow covered country road outside Creston, British Columbia, God showed me a vision of the Internet and told me to go back to school to study computers. That was 10 years before the Internet became a reality for the general public, and 12 years before I founded my own Internet company as an ISP (Internet Access Provider). It would take volumes to list all the many, many miracles it took to get here. You can read some of the highlights by checking out "Our Mission and Who We Are" section of this website. Also, you'll want to look at the sub-menu item, "The Benefits" under "3Circles - A New Spirituality".
So, what exactly is a "Spirit-Centered Community"? Since there are few intentional communities and none exactly like our proposed communities, let me begin by talking about what is familiar to most people: camping and "Church". From these I can draw descriptive parallels and hopefully convey the heart of what a 3Circles Church Community is all about.
Every city and town has their share of churches and they are universally recognized. However, a 3Circles Church Community will be nothing like a traditional church and the reasons why are profound. I am going to shock some of you when I say this, but those religious buildings universally described as a "Church" are in fact NOT a Church. They do, however, temporarily house the church, which is in truth, the people. This is the main reason I've coined the phrase, "Be the Church", to put an end to this widely held misconception.
Do you remember summer camp when you were a kid? If you were a boy or girl scout, or you attended YMCA or YWCA summer camp, then you understand the special camaraderie that is shared there. Maybe you've gone on spiritual retreats, which are a lot like camping without the tents or camp buildings. Or perhaps your family was rich enough to afford a vacation home, where you invited a few other close friends and their families to share the experience of "roughing it" in some scenic area. In all of these scenarios you would have had the privilege of experiencing a small part of what it's like to live in a faith-based intentional community. Camping creates magical moments that are unique and shared, moments that are never forgotten because they touch us deeply. Now imagine experiencing that heightened joy and love every day, for the rest of your life!!
Since the most basic foundational belief for joining our 3Circles Communities (online or offline) is a belief in God, we don't have a lot of belief requirements. But we do have a few general ones, since any community requires having enough in common for unity to prevail. Here is our list:
3Circles Individual Foundational Beliefs:
1) I believe in a power greater than myself, a creative force, a force which science is continuously proving operates by intelligent design.
2) I humble myself before that power and by quieting my mind I listen, so that I might come to KNOW what is best and what is true in life.
3) I compare myself to the perfection of that power rather than the imperfection of other humans, for the first leads to humility while the second leads to vanity and haughtiness. Through this self-discipline I have learned that no human is perfect, fully holy or totally good. Therefore, in this aspect I am equal to all others and must never respect some more than others.
4) I choose to practice the Golden Rule, to do unto others even as I would have them do unto me because I know that I, along with all other human beings, am created in the image of that intelligence which designed me, with the same qualities of creativity, sovereign free will, and physical adaptability to all environments. Therefore, I have not only the adaptability but also the consciousness and the conscience to rise above my circumstances and be a good steward of that environment which sustains me.
5) I continually choose freedom and to help others become free: physically free, mentally free, and spiritually free. I understand this principle, that whatever I put my time and money and resources into, that is what I have chosen to empower. Furthermore, I realize that whatever I empower I give some measure of power over myself. Therefore, from this moment on, I choose only to empower that which serves to make myself and others free, thereby creating a better world.
6) I accept that I am a spirit being in a fleshly body and that every spirit being has a purpose, therefore I ever seek to understand my life purpose and to help others to find theirs, that each one of us might find happiness and joy, the purpose of which is not to be free of pain or sorrow, but rather to transform sorrow into joy.
7) Having a free and sovereign will, I know that the idea of fate undermines that truth and renders it impotent. I understand that not everything happens for a reason, for the will of another may rob me temporarily of my own free will. Therefore, though not everything is part of God's plan, whatever happens I will integrate it into God's plan and work it out to the good.
8) God created male and female by design, not just for procreation but also for our enlightenment. Therefore, contrary to popular opinion, women need men and men need women. We make a conscious choice to embrace our differences, to understand how the opposite sex is vital to our psychological and spiritual wholeness. This is not only for our own well being, but also that there might be a good attitude of respect towards each other, order in the home and the harmony of love through all.
9) There is a hierarchy to all of creation; there is also a hierarchy of effectiveness in our prayers and meditations. By this understanding we come to realize why some prayers are harder to make effectual than others and we learn how to pray with power.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the "body of Christ" described in the Bible's book of Ephesians, chapter 4, is what a church-community should be. Each of the "members" of this body has their own God-given purpose and contributes to the life of that "body". Unity and love will prevail, regardless of the differences and personality clashes that appear from time to time. I know this is true because of my early experiences of community. Once I was even struck deaf and dumb, so I could see the importance of waiting on God rather than relying solely on my own strength. When people gather to create a community of the faithful, God pours out an abundant power, usually as love, peace and joy, but also like a refiner's fire, helping each of us love one another as Jesus Christ first loved us.
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Leroy E. Grey