Building Casa de Cristo
In early 2012, the young members of Villa Primavera, the Bruderhof house community in Asunción, Paraguay, dreamed of building a church in the vacant lot next to their house. As an ecumenical place of worship, it was to be called Casa de Cristo – “House of Christ.” Johann Blough, age 27, who has worked on the project from the beginning, explains their vision: “Casa de Cristo will be a gathering place for all those in Paraguay – whether neighbors, acquaintances or passers-through – who want to join together in seeking to live out God’s kingdom on earth. More than two million people live in the Asunción metropolitan region. At our gatherings on Sundays and in weekday Bible study groups, our wish is to welcome many here who want to follow Jesus’ teachings, regardless of church affiliation.”
After two years and much toil, this dream is becoming a reality. Community members have worked beside Paraguayan contractors, digging the foundations, laying the bricks, and erecting the beams – all with a minimum of power tools. Neighbors are supportive of the effort, and Blough reports interest from a range of people in the Asunción area. Now, anticipating the opening this fall, a sign outside the building proclaims ¡Bienvenidos! On the beam in the meeting hall is carved the new church’s watchword from Philippians: “Rejoice in the Lord always.”
International Fellowship of Reconciliation: One Hundred Years for Nonviolence
On the eve of the First World War, an English Quaker and a German Lutheran bid each other farewell after a peace conference in Constance, Germany, promising never to go war because they were “one in Christ.” To honor and build upon this promise, the Fellowship of Reconciliation was founded in England in 1915; the German branch was formed soon afterwards.
After the First World War, a conference in the Netherlands in 1919 established an International Fellowship of Reconciliation (IFOR) from those that had been formed during the war. Over the next years they advocated for disarmament and against the idea of “righteous war.” During World War II, they also worked to save people from the Holocaust.
In a 1922 issue, Plough Quarterly’s forerunner publication Das Neue Werk reported on IFOR’s development, noting that it grew from “the rock of unity in the living Christ.” Thanks to this foundation, the organization has weathered a century of civil wars, genocide, and two world wars. In August 2014, IFOR celebrated its centennial in Constance, one hundred years after a simple handshake gave it birth. www.ifor.org