June 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

11020229_10153250011753770_743022781467047172_nNote: Due to our sabbatical, the Mennonite Worker will suspend all regular hospitality, meals, and worship gatherings from June 21st to October 12th. 

Amy and I started the Mennonite Worker over eleven years ago. Over those years, we’ve operated up to several hospitality houses at a time, welcomed dozens of resident volunteers, and offered food and housing to hundreds of folks in transition.  We’ve organized protests, hosted worship services, and offered workshops. It has been good but tiring work.

We’re now finding ourselves in a time of transition.

On June 8th, we sold Clare House. This is bittersweet. On the one hand, it is hard to say goodbye to what has been our primary hospitality house. On the other hand, the sale will bring us something we’ve never had as a community–financial stability.

In the past couple of years, we’ve said goodbye to most of our longest-standing members.  Folks that joined us in their early to mid twenties have found love, had children, and moved on. And many others have come during a time of learning and healing and followed their vocation elsewhere. With only a few residents, my family is taking the time for a long-overdue sabbatical.

My family needs time to refresh. Besides an occasional vacation, Jonas (7) has only ever known life in intentional community. Amy and I have experienced over half of our nearly 20 years of marriage living in communal housing.

And I need time for renewed vision. I’ve been in ministry for nearly 20 years and have begun to feel a new vision stirring in my soul…one that I need to take the time to explore. It will not only set the stage for the next 20 years of ministry, but will help bring new vision for our work at the Mennonite Worker.

Please consider supporting our sabbatical fund by clicking the button below. This summer will not only be a time of rest and refreshing, but also a time of discernment as we ask the question: “What will the Mennonite Worker look like in the season ahead?” This sabbatical will be a time to reflect over the past decade as we essentially start a new decade with a renewed vision. Some things will likely remain the same, but we are wide open to the Spirit’s leading.

Resting in the Creator’s Love,

Mark Van Steenwyk

Goodbye, Clare

June 19, 2015 — Leave a comment

IMG_4340After 7 years of home ownership, we’ve sold Clare House. That means we’ll be a one-house community as we focus our energy on the ministry we do out of Simone Weil House. This is, we believe, a financially smart move. We bought Clare House right before the bubble burst in 2008, which left us with an expensive mortgage amidst an inhospitable job market.

We’ve had a lot of good memories at Clare House. For most of that 7 years, it functioned as our primary hospitality house, our place of worship, and a place filled with much laughter, some sadness, and bursts of joyous oddity.

rad_readingWe’re reworking the apprenticeship curriculum at the Mennonite Worker. “Apprenticeship” is the learning portion that new residents go through when they come to our community. We’re developing a week-long learning intensive (that will also be open to folks from outside the community) as well as some required reading.

Below is our tentative reading list. We’d love to hear any suggestions for materials you think we should add or remove from the list:

Hospitality (welcoming the stranger) is not only a relational posture, but also an economic practice. For the Mennonite Worker, hospitality leads to jubilee (redistribution that leads to a gift economy). Any act of hospitality that doesn’t hold the potential for jubilee isn’t hospitality. Likewise, any practice of jubilee that is closed to outsiders rejects Jesus’ call to love neighbor and enemy.

We are called to be a prophetic people, naming and challenging oppression wherever we find it as we seek to embody an alternative.

We want to embrace joyful abundance as we respect creation. Simplicity and sustainability require radical contentment and attentiveness as we honor the land and all God’s creatures rather that treat them as resources.

We want to be a community that is rooted in God’s presence. By nurturing spiritual rhythms, we want to be animated by the Spirit of God rather than be energized by the frenetic anxiety of modern civilization.

Blessed are the peacemakers. We want to be a people who pursue reconciliation and love in all relationships.



Howarth_barcodeIn June, we launched a 12 Step Program for folks who are addicted to Empire. The group meets Tuesday nights at 7:45pm at 2420 11th Ave S, Minneapolis. The program was developed by Seminary of the Street in Oakland, California. This is how they describe the program:

We have all been molded and shaped to some degree by the systems in which we live and by the worldview that underlies them, which includes individualism, white supremacy, the idealization of self-sufficiency, dubious ideas about how to achieve security, status, and esteem, and so on. That is not to say that we have succumbed completely. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We have probably all resisted as much as we can. Still, prolonged exposure to this culture has hurt us and diminished our humanity. We want it back. In this ongoing experimental 12-step program, we will focus on recovery from this process.

All are invited.

Update: As of July 15th, we’ve raised $3500, which is 70% of our goal!

welcomeMe-300x286With the generous support of our friends, we’ve been able to do a lot of renovation work at Simone Weil House. However, the repairs are going to cost us more than we anticipated. We are also finding ourselves over budget as we’ve experienced some housing transitions (since our residents help pay the bills, having several people move out has depleted our reserves). 

Between now and July 21st, we’d like to raise $5000:

  • $1000 for materials for remaining kitchen renovations (we’re doing all the labor ourselves).
  • $3500 to restore our reserves in light of recent departures.
  • $500 for other household repairs.

We’d also like you to consider to donate, on a recurring basis, to our staff fund. Currently, we only one person on staff, Mark, who raises about $650/month. We’d like to see that increase and, ideally be able to free up other members of the community to dedicate more time to our ministries.

To make a donation online, click here. Otherwise, you can send a check to:

The Mennonite Worker
2420 11th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404

If you aren’t able to help us financially, here are some other things you can do to support us:

  • books/materials related to peacemaking and/or radical Christianity
  • artwork
  • large food dehydrator
  • a loft bed for the main guestroom at Simone Weil House
  • food donations (especially: coffee, beans, rice, and fresh produce)
  • energy efficient light bulbs
  • toilet paper
  • dish soap
  • canning lids
  • toiletries for guests (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo/conditioner, etc)
  • laundry soap
  • bus passes
  • grocery gift cards

We would also welcome your advice. In coming months, we’ll be developing a business plan for forming a cooperatively run business so that we can become financially self-sustaining by 2016. We have a number of ideas, but welcome input from our friends. Stay tuned for more!

img_0673We have residential openings in September or October: preferably a couple or folks who are willing to share a room. Please spread word: we’re moving into some exciting new directions as a community and would love to be joined with folks who not only want to live in an intentional Christian community, but would like to help give shape to our next season of ministry. In the next several months, we’ll be launching the Gene Stoltzfus Center for Creative Peacemaking, starting a community business (more on that below), and releasing a new educational initiative.

Residents are those who have come to the Mennonite Worker to share in our way of life. New residents agree to stay with us for at least nine months. Folks have come to our community as a learning opportunity with the intention of moving on after nine months. Others come intending to become members after a time of additional discernment.

New residents are encouraged to limit their out-of-community workload so they are free to fully participate in the life of the community. Some activities new residents may participate in may include: offering hospitality to overnight guests, cooking, bicycle repair, gardening, dumpstering, hosting visiting groups, food prep, praying, protesting, studying, etc. During the initial few months of their stay with us, new residents will engage in a time of “hands on” learning. It is a loosely structured time of engaging our core values in a variety of ways–reading, watching documentaries, learning trips, learning new skills, and more. Everyone is given freedom to learn at their own pace, but our hope is that everyone will be stretched to engage new ideas and embrace new practices.

For more information about the application process, go here.

May Book Drive!

May 1, 2014 — Leave a comment

imagesRenovations continue with Simone Weil House and the Gene Stoltzfus Center for Creative Peacemaking (which occupies the lower level of the house). We’re hoping to be done with renovations before summer.

One of the Gene Stoltzfus Center offerings is our peace library. We’ve got a software system that will allow folks to check out books (and will have a comfortable area for folks to drop in and read). And, while we have several hundred books already, we’d like more.

All throughout May, we’ll be having a book drive at the Mennonite Worker. We’ll be accepting book donations every day at 2420 11th Ave S in Minneapolis. If you have books to drop by, contact us or just drop them off during daytime hours (the front door is unlocked during the day.

If you aren’t in the Twin Cities, we’d also welcome book donations via the mail:

The Mennonite Worker
2420 11th Ave S
Minneapolis, MN 55404

In particular, we want books on nonviolence, social justice, spirituality/prayer, biblical or theological scholarship from a radical perspective, radical politics/economics, DIY literature, indigenous justice, simple living, hospitality, ecology, food justice, or anything related to living radically in the US Empire. We’re also open to literature (particularly for children) that touches on any of these themes.

Any books that don’t quite seem to fit in the library will be sold at a local bookstore and used to purchase books on our wish list.

We’re open to any books that fit the themes outlines above. However, these books are on the top of our wish-list:


Housewarming Party

February 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

1623404_10152188459198770_508712737_n (1)Come celebrate with us! We recently purchased a new hospitality house (Simone Weil House) and are throwing a party. Our new house will expand our capacity for hospitality as well as be the home for the Gene Stoltzus Center for Creative Peacemaking. We will open and dedicate the Center later in the spring. Bring snacks or beverages if you’d like.

Housewarming gifts will be gladly received, but aren’t necessary. If you’d like to know more about what we still need for the new house, please contact us.

A little ways into the party, we will share a bit about our vision for the house and formally dedicate the house. We will also give folks an opportunity  to contribute to our kitchen renovation fund.

Eventbrite - Housewarming Party for our New Hospitality House

Join us for our second annual karaoke dance party celebrating the work of the Mennonite Worker.

Come get your groove on. Sing a few songs. Laugh with friends old and new. Drinks will be available (with a suggested donation). We’ll have snacks aplenty. And there will be several opportunities to give.

All proceeds will be used to support our ongoing work.

Eventbrite - The Mennonite Worker's 2nd Annual Karaoke Dance Party

On October 31st, we’ll be closing on our newest community house! Thanks to everyone who supported our new house campaign with their donations and prayers. We were able to raise over $84,000 total. We were able to get the rest of the way to $117k sale price with the help our friends at MICAH, who will be co-owning the property with us as we look for ways to partner with each other in the future.

The house has seven bedrooms and may house the Gene Stoltzfus Center for Creative Peacemaking on the main floor. However, we may be renovating the lower level of the garage at Clare House to make that two story garage into the Center. We’ll keep folks posted as that process continues.

We are grateful for friends and family who have supported our community through this process. We are grateful to the seller who decided to sell the house to us, even though she had higher offers from folks interested in it as an investment property. Praise God!

Our plan is to move from Sattler House to Simone Weil House in December. We’ll be sad to see Sattler House (our first community house) close. But we’re excited for the season ahead.

As we move forward, we have a few needs we want to bring to your attention:

  • We will need to install two new boilers in the house as soon as possible. We’re getting formal estimates soon. But so far, the general estimates we’ve received are between $10k-$15k total for removal and replacement of the old boilers. We’ve had folks offer to loan us the money for this project, but we’d be grateful to anyone who could make a donation to help. You can donate online here.
  • We are in need of bed frames, mattresses, bedding, pillows, and sheets for three of the bedrooms.
  • If you have any carpentry skills that you’d be willing to donate, please contact us. We have a few projects we’d like to begin working on and would be grateful for the help.
Stay tuned…soon we’ll announce the dates for our 2nd Annual Karaoke Dance Party, our annual Benefit Dinner, and an open house/unveiling for the Simone Weil House!