In January of 2011, I was fresh off the mission field where I had been teaching for the previous 8 years. I was moving from a city with 12 million people to the cornfields of Illinois to be a student in the seminary.
Like most places I had ventured in my life, I was going by myself to a place where I knew no one. God had provided a community every place I had gone before, so I trusted He would do so again.
After a year and a half in the counseling program, I switched to Religious Education and graduated in 2015. This program reinforced in me what I had discovered in myself on the mission field: I have a passion for informal, relational discipleship and spiritual formation in the context of a smaller Christian community.
While at Lincoln, friends from church, as well as my Jessie C. Eury library coworkers quickly became my community. In the student apartments we started having weekly small group with shared meals, liturgy, and fun At the same time these gatherings were informal, they were intentional. And intention leads to change.
Among this group of friends were Jeremy, LCU ’16, and Abby (Reynolds), LCU ’15, Smith. All three of us were influenced by different experiences, but we all felt a pull towards a different way of living out our Christian faith. We wanted more than solely the Sunday morning service and mid-week programming; where busy schedules and disjointed lives made connecting so difficult. What we had experienced in our student housing small group was how we imagined Christian community could look.
The Smiths and I began reading about and visiting Intentional Christian Communities within driving distance of LCU. We started praying and planning for where and how we ourselves could start or be a part of an Intentional Community. In the fall of 2016 we moved into an overpriced Boston apartment, settled into new jobs, got to know our neighborhood and made connections in churches in the area–Riza Intentional Christian Community was born.
Our vision for Riza was that the more areas of our lives we could overlap with each other the more we would see God at work in transforming us and our neighborhood. We practice shared life, shared spirituality, and shared ministry. An Intentional Christian Community is the nitty gritty of informal, relational discipleship, and spiritual formation in the context of community.
Over the past four years, we have seen the Spirit at work in forming us as a community, helping us establish roots here and formalize the Intentional Community. Riza started with just the three of us as Covenant Members. This fall, as we’ve spread out in our neighborhood, we’ve been able to welcome four new Experiential Members to the Riza community making seven. This spring Riza officially became a registered non-profit in the state of Massachusetts and we are in the process of becoming a 501c3. We have a board, which includes LCU alum, Caleb Humphrey, LCU ’14, LCU ’16, and we have developed a deeper vision for the kind of shared ministry we will have.
To read more about Riza, our shared life, spirituality and ministry, visit our website here. We would love to hear from you or answer any questions you may have about what we do.
I feel blessed to have had the community I had while at LCU, and now as a member of Riza, I get to help work towards creating a welcoming community for those we come in contact with. I have the privilege of living every day in and co-creating the Kingdom of God in our neighborhood.