Here’s a great article that was recently in USA Today
New monastics share community, offer hope
By Caty Hirst, The Tennessean
They aren’t a commune, but they live in community. They are motivated by faith, but they attend different churches. They want to help the homeless, so they bought an apartment complex.
They are new monastics, dedicated to helping the poor, sharing resources and caring for creation. Known as Castanea, meaning chestnut tree in Latin, these young Christians are working to transform a run-down apartment complex into a place of reconciliation.
Castanea’s members moved to Chestnut Hill, Tenn., in South Nashville two years ago, planning to live in close proximity to one another, fulfilling their vision of Christian community and helping others.
But when they found an apartment complex condemned by the city, they decided to buy it. Castanea has since completed the initial cleanup, and the group hopes to begin construction in the next few months, installing new windows, doors and a roof. It still needs $600,000 to complete renovations on the building.
The apartments will enable all of the members to live under one roof — a family of seven, another married couple and the six single adults in the group can fit in four apartments. There, they can easily share meals, prayer, work, study, play and possessions. The remaining 10 units they plan to lease out to the homeless and refugees by coordinating with other organizations fighting homelessness in the city.
By Sanford Myers, The (Nashville) Tennessean
Before Castanea bought it, the Chestnut Hill complex was “one of the worst complexes in South Nashville for crime, drugs, etc.,” one neighbor said.
“The product of this age is for people to choose their own way and be independent, but whenever I go to Haiti to do work down there, people are living in these families in a tribal idea of community, and you realize that our Western idea of self-reliance and independence is a pretty new thing,” said Daniel Burt, a member of Castanea.
Amanda Burt, Daniel’s wife, said she wants to live up to biblical commandments such as loving her neighbors and giving to the poor, and a shared community makes it easier because members are accountable to one another.
Read the rest of the article about the new urban monasticism here.