Tuesday, October 8, 2013

LifeHouse Ministries in Ruston, Louisiana

Cathy Brewton shares the story of the development of a community ministry in Ruston, Louisiana.

LifeHouse Ministries, Inc., is a nonprofit ministry of spiritual formation and healing, governed by a board of directors and advisory board. The vision for LifeHouse is to provide a presence of healing, hospitality, and reconciliation with God, neighbor, and self. Our desire is to enable persons to deepen their inner lives with God and become aware of God’s presence in their everyday lives as a result of the opportunities that are offered.
           The purpose of LifeHouse Ministries is to serve as a ministry portal or door into the kingdom of God offering sacred space, respite, and repose for persons who are spiritually impoverished, experiencing a faith crisis, or in need of healing. It is an ecumenical ministry open for all people to embark on the journey to wholeness in body, mind, and spirit. LifeHouse Ministries is a place to fabricate community and build relationships. For descriptive video, visit the LifeHouse Ministries website here.
            Director Cathy Brewton writes: I am a United Methodist minister serving as a deacon in the church through my specialization in spiritual formation. I am called by God to move beyond the walls of the church into the world, to embody the grace and love of Jesus Christ to those pushed to the edges of our society, and to empower all persons to begin to see themselves as God’s beloved. During my seminary journey of study, writing, meditation, and reflection, I began to have a vision for this place in the community, this house, for people to come and experience God in new and different ways. God has placed this ministry in my care and asked me to be the steward, the abbess for LifeHouse; and God desires for spiritual formation to be the centerpiece of all that we do in this sacred space.
           Truly the beginnings of LifeHouse happened on the pages in my journal. Through prayer and listening, I began to gather board mem- bers; at our first meeting in the fall of 2009 we started the founda- tional work of this ministry. I worked with an attorney, a CPA, and the IRS to establish our nonprofit status and corporate name through the state of Louisiana. Our prayer as a board has always been to discern “the next thing” that God needs us to do in order not to become over- whelmed. We held our first fund-raising event in October 2010 and continue having big events once per year with smaller fund-raisers intermittently. At the first fund-raiser, a family offered a space for our ministry to be housed; the seed monies and monthly pledges acquired at that event gave us the means to use the space.    We are located in the heart of the community surrounded by businesses and residences.
             We currently offer prayer classes, organic gardening and horticul- tural therapy, and individual spiritual direction to help people with their relationship with God. We also offer spiritual movement classes accom- panied by scripture reading or sacred music, so persons can embody the scriptures, hence the grace of our God. We offer space for healing ministries like Alcoholics Anonymous and Divorce Recovery.
            LifeHouse offers clergy care for ministers in the community and sur- rounding communities and parishes. Ministers and pastors do not get a lot of quiet rest, so we provide space to them for quiet, meditation, and soul tending. Our hope is that they return to their families, churches, and places of ministry revitalized for ministry with God.
            LifeHouse hosts community meals twice a month for anyone who wishes to sit together at the table. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came to remind us who we are and whose we are. Through his life we learn how to live and how to love each other. We always want to reach out to those in our community—those who are pushed to the margins. Meals together nurture reconciliation; masks come off and people see who they really are. Eating together and listening for God in each other’s lives remind us that we are not alone, that we are one body of Christ.