“A Planting of the Lord”: Reba Place’s Jubilee Year, 1957-2007
First, a word about our name…
Reba Place is a street in Evanston, Illinois, distinctive for its brevity (a mere three blocks), and for being named in 1837 after the daughter of a prominent Evanstonian whose last name was Poor!
How it all began
On a hot August afternoon in 1957, a small group of Mennonite Voluntary Service workers moved into a three-story blue house at 727 Reba Place. Their mission was to live and minister in the “city.” Months of prayer, discussion, and research had gone into this “planting of the Lord” (Isaiah 61:3).
Within a few months Reba Place Fellowship was born: an intentional Christian community, inspired by the vision of the early Christian church in Acts 2.
Within a few months Reba Place Fellowship was born: an intentional Christian community inspired by the vision of the early Christian church in Acts 2. Those early days were marked by gatherings in the living room at 727 for singing and sharing, for the enacting of biblical dramas, and the lifting up of the example of Jesus.
Reba Place Fellowship went through a time of dramatic growth in the 1970s, and soon the community was spread out around the neighborhood, gathered for the most part in large communal households. There was much outreach, spiritual growth, and healing. There was also brokenness and pain.
Reba Place Church is born
In the early 1980s Reba Place Church became a separate entity from Reba Place Fellowship, creating space for congregational membership for the first time (alongside the communal members of Reba Place Fellowship.) Growth in numbers continued, even as the household structures largely disbanded and small groups and clusters of small groups took their place. Sunday morning worship included more central leadership and more openness to neighborhood visitors and friends.
Reba Place Church weathered several storms in the 1990s including transitions in leadership, decision-making philosophies, and mission. We tried to be more intentional about evangelism and racial reconciliation, and we successfully planted a new congregation (now known as Living Water Community Church) in a nearby Chicago neighborhood, Rogers Park.
Here and Now
Reba today is firmly committed to following Jesus for the renewal and restoration of all things in God. With the power of God’s love
we resist the idols of this age;
we strive to embody God’s shalom in a violent and angry world;
we proclaim God’s salvation to all who will hear it; and
we commit ourselves to bring God’s merciful love to the poor and needy of our city, country and the world.
We are transitioning to a generation of young leaders, with new applications of the vision that God continues to give us. It is exciting to turn backward and celebrate what God has done and look forward to what God continues to call upon us to do.