My sister and I grew up in Hegewisch, a 5-miles square neighborhood on Chicago’s far southeast side. Our mother is one of five siblings, and our father is one of three (not including their cousins). All of them but one lived in the neighborhood or right next to it. My twenty cousins and I bounced between each other’s houses nearly every day as my aunts and uncles took turns watching us after school and taking care of us on days off. I grew up with nearly forty extra parents and siblings who worked together to raise us all.
Most of my college years were spent in one building at Capital University: the Conservatory of Music complex. I played in a brass quintet, tuba-euphonium quartet, tuba-euphonium ensemble (Capital Thunder), brass choir, and wind band. If I wasn’t in class, or practicing, or studying, I still hung out in the lobby (the Fishbowl) with other Con students. I slept in my dorm room and worshiped in the chapel, but I lived and learned with my classmates.
Though not all of us in seminary were training to become pastors, we were all aware that we formed a Christian, transient community. We lived in an apartment complex together. We worshiped together and had class together. We celebrated weekly cookouts and a Common Meal, where we could relax and get away from the stresses of exegesis, sermon-writing, and systematic theology. We watched each others’ kids when they had classes. After graduation, we traveled around the country to attend ordinations, installations, and support our friends and coworkers in Christ.
Human beings were made to live in community with each other. We need each other.