Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The centrality of prayer

Prayer necklaces in the market of Old Jerusalem

Gordon Cosby founded the incredible ecumenical church in Washington, D.C. known as the Church of the Saviour. Below I've given you the opening words of an article written in 1976 called The Invisible World.

Nothing in the Christian life works unless we get the hang of prayer. Christianity as a theological system, as an ethical and moral system, simply won't do. Unless we can connect with another order of reality, the whole thing is just too exhausting to try to work through.

Prayer is learning the art of the connection. It is the heart of what the Christian life is all about...
I'm sad to say that many people do indeed see Christianity as a theological system and as an ethical and moral system and they view prayer as nice but (if you press them about it) really optional.

Here is a very interesting bit of information about Church of the Saviour:

Never more than 200 members, the church actually seemed to discourage growth. You can only join for one year at a time. If you do not re-apply each year, your membership automatically lapses. But, you have to attend the School of Christian Living one evening a week for two years before you can move from apprentice membership to full membership. No congregation has ever taken more seriously the path of discipleship.

What were the results? Hundreds of faith-based ministries have been started over the years, including a community health center, a residential treatment center for women with AIDS, hundreds of units of low-cost housing, a jobs program that placed 800 unemployed individuals last year, FLOC (For the Love of Children, a movement that revamped how foster care is done in DC), Alabaster Jar (a movement of artists who are people of faith and express faith in their art), the influential Wellspring retreat center, a small college, and Potter's House, what many consider the original Christian coffeehouse ministry which still operates in the Adams-Morgan neighborhood on Columbia Road in Washington.
Something for those people who put "church growth" (as in swelling the numbers) before ministry and Christian formation to think about, huh?


  1. Wow, talk about getting it right.
    Carolyn L.

  2. Mary "Winnie" RaderJuly 3, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    Thank you for this very timely piece re Church of the Saviour, Ellie. It was gift for me to be a part of Dayspring Church, one of the C of S Sister Faith Communities, for over 20 years. The ministry there continues to accomplish amazing things because being in relationship to God and Jesus through prayer is kept at the center. There is no other way to 'keep the faith'. Mary R.


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