Church of the Saviour (Washington, D.C.)

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Former location of Church of the Saviour
Marchers from The Church of the Savior, on the day of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The Church of the Saviour in Washington, DC is a network of nine independent, ecumenical Christian faith communities and over 40 ministries[1] that have grown out of the original Church of the Saviour community founded in the mid-1940s.[2] The current ministries and faith communities are the result of an alternative approach to “church” and church structures which is the hallmark of the Church of the Saviour. This approach and these structures were formed in an effort to improve Christian discipleship and “recover... something of the vitality and life, vigor and power of the early Christian community."[3] In that effort the church's approach emphasizes integrity of membership, the ministry of the laity, and communal intimacy and accountability.[4] This desire for intimacy and accountability among members of the church is what led the community to break into smaller congregations rather than try to grow larger as a single church.[5] It has also led to the formation of small groups called “mission groups”, made up of 2 to 15 members gathered around a shared sense of vocation or God's calling.[6] These groups became the fundamental unit of community and accountability in the church, and the various groups, each following their own sense of call, gave rise to most of the ministries associated with the church.[7] As a structure, the mission groups have been continued in one form or another in the church's offspring faith communities. Through the writings of longtime church member Elizabeth O'Connor (1928–1998) and others, Church of the Saviour has become influential among Christian religious groups throughout the country[8][9] and has informed such contemporary movements as the missional church movement,[10] the Emergent Church movement,[11] and the New Monasticism movement.[12]

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  1. ^ Church of the Saviour. (2007). Friendship Directory. Washington, DC.
  2. ^ O'Connor, Elizabeth (1963). Call to Commitment: The story of the Church of the Saviour. New York: Harper and Row. pp. 14–20. ISBN 9780060663292. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
  3. ^ Call to Commitment, p. 23.
  4. ^ Call to Commitment pp. 23-54
  5. ^ O'Connor, E. (1991). Servant Leaders, Servant Structures, pp. 47-61. Washington, DC: The Servant Leadership School.
  6. ^ Call to Commitment, p. 49.
  7. ^ Call to Commitment, pp. 20-45.
  8. ^ Labaton, A. (Producer). (Oct. 31, 1997) Washington's Church of the Saviour, Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. New York: PBS. [1]
  9. ^ Boorstein, M. (2009, January 6). Activist D.C. Church Embraces Transition in Name of Its Mission. The Washington Post, p. A01. [2]
  10. ^ Guder, D.L. (1998). Missional Church: A vision for the sending of the Church in North America. p. 279. Grand Rapids: Eerdman's.
  11. ^ McLaren, B. (2005). Becoming Convergent
  12. ^ Claiborne, S. (2006). The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an ordinary radical, p. 360. Grand Rapids: Zondervan