Mark's Sabbatical

The Background:

11 years ago, Amy and I started the Mennonite Worker, an urban intentional community committed to Jesus' way of hospitality, simplicity, prayer, peacemaking, and resistance. Over those 11 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. We're down to one (fully paid for) community house (Simone Weil House). And, in the past couple of years, we've said goodbye to most of our longest-standing members.  

My family needs time to refesh. 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.

The Plan:

We want to take three months to refresh and refocus - from July 5 to October 9.  Here's a rough breakdown:

Phase One, On the Road (July): We'll spend two weeks visiting several other intentional communities, to connect with old friends while learning how their communities work. 

Phase Two, Family Bonding (August): We'll spend a month focusing on family bonding. A lot of the time during evenings and weekends, I'm going to focus on writing my next book.*

Phase Three, Personal Quest (September and early October):  During this time, I'll be doing some personal discernment. I'll spend some time by myself in the wilderness in prayer, silence, and writing. I'll also participate in a two week wilderness Quest at the Animus Valley Institue. This Quest, which includes 4 days of solitude in the wilderness, will serve as a focal point for my sabbatical. 


Costs:

The $6250 I'm trying to raise will roughly cover the following:

1) $2500 to cover food, travel and lodging for the first month on sabbatical.

2) Assuming we can receive local hospitality, we'll need $500 to cover food costs during the second month of sabbatical.

3) $750 to cover a total of ten days in silence and writing at a nearby retreat center. 

4) $2500 for the travel and registration costs associated with the Animus Quest.

Other than Money:

Of course, there are other ways to support us if you are unable to support financially. Here are other ways you can help:

Please share the campaign on social media!

If you know of places we can stay during our sabbatical, please let us know. 

This is a time of discernment for us. Please feel free to send a note of encouragement or advice if you feel so moved. In particular, I'm eager to hear stories about how anything we've done has mattered to you.

Pray for us!

_______________________________________________________

* My next book is the first in a series. Here's the basics:

Set tens of thousands of years in an alternative future, the earth’s destiny rests upon the furry shoulders of an orphaned squirrel named Hackberry.

After a self-inflicted cataclysm leaves human civilization in ruins, the spirits that govern the earth grant the gift of sapience to beasts. As the earth begins to tip back towards destruction, our hero begins a journey to save the world.

Each book in this four part series will involve a quest for one of four ancient treasures that will help shape the earth’s destiny. Hackberry finds himself in a race to acquire these treasures before Nith, the Dragon King, can use them to forge a great Empire built upon the lost knowledge of humanity.

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Organizer

Mark Van Steenwyk 
Organizer
Minneapolis, MN
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