I was thinking there were lessons — good and cautionary — when I read the fifty-year-old Whittier (Ca.) Havurah, the first Jewish “fellowship” (one translation for á¸¥avurah) was winding up its affairs. (Jewish Daily Forward, “Whittier Celebrates the Last Hurrah of Americaâ€™s First Havurah,” July 13, 2011) Generation-locked, under-organized, perhaps too inventive being the downsides of youth-oriented, free and creative. Little wonder many of the newer á¸¥avurot blend orthodoxy, egalitarianism, participation and tradition in a way that’s neither/nor, and not Whittier’s model but still new. I’d seek one out — D.C. has its choices — were I Jewish.
I’ve written how this movement (and here) has appealed to me, so I won’t labor that. Instead, I’ll lift up Kim Hampton’s pointed “who’s planting?” concern. Sure it would be nice if there were different kind of church planting and all were well funded. So whether the desired form of church, or the best under the circumstances, consider:
- a congregation of twelve to twenty that aspired to well-crafted worship, individualized spiritualÂ developmentÂ and mobilizing a pool of helpers to accomplish social ministry.
- where worship is something shared between the members and had wide participation as a stated value.
- not affiliating with the Unitarian Universalist Association, but staying in communication with the district and nearest congregations, and in other ways minimize administration
- assisting new, like groups spring up in unlikely places or among unlikely populations.
- develop its own leadership, but cooperatively develop the resources to do so.
- be prepared to disband — as an option, not a failure — when and if the times demand.