I recently posted about the restructuring of the Catholic archdiocese in Philadelphia that led to multiple church closures in the early 1990’s. One of those churches was St. Edward’s, located in a poverty stricken part of the city . Not long after the closure, the building was re-inhabited (illegally) by a group of homeless women and children. The archdiocese tried to get the homeless to evacuate the building and go through the established process of waiting for housing vouchers through a city welfare program. This resulted in a series of protests and a media campaign that was finally settled when the women took up residence in some abandoned HUD homes.
Shane Claiborne, a Protestant seminarian at the time, was involved in the protests and wrote about this event in his book “The Irresistible Revolution”. He later went on to become one of the founders of The Simple Way, an alternative “monastic” community, living alongside the poor in that same Philadelphia neighborhood. Claiborne’s story is a great example of how a tragic ending of a ministry is not the end for God. The Holy Spirit will not be suppressed. It is resurrected in new ways, not without controversy and struggle, but here it comes nevertheless.
Here’s what Christianity Today said about Shane Claiborne and the new monastic movement in 2005. This is just one of many new ways God is seeking to resurrect the Church in our time.