On Saturday, September 10th, 2016, the Servants of the Word invited their friends and family to a celebration of their 45th anniversary at Columbus Hall in Dexter, Michigan. Close to 350 people responded and packed the room for a program of prayer, sharings and slides, followed by a beautiful buffet provided by the women of the Word of Life community.
Steve Clark is the founder of this group of about 140 men from around the world. “We simply wanted to life fully for God and were led to living single for the Lord… it’s that simple.” Don DeSmith has been with the brotherhood for 35 years. “I was made for this life” he says, “and thanks to the encouragement and faithfulness of many others I am still here.” Luis Arce, a 34 year old brother from Costa Rica says: “It was not easy to leave behind my family and Costa Rica, but that is what Christ calls us to in the Gospels when he says ‘He who loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me.’ But my decision has become a blessing, not just for me, but also my whole family.” David Dolsen, a young man from Saline, Michigan has just returned from a mission year in Manila, where he was living with the brothers. “Ever since high-school I have aspired to live a great life. Then I met all these men who were doing it, and they were all celibates. So that got me to investigate this life and we will see where it will take me.”
Interspersed by slides from our 45 year history, family and friends also spoke of the impact the brotherhood had on them. “Many brothers helped me negotiate the rapids of my student life” said Dr. Renee Bayer, a doctor from Ann Arbor, “and now they do the same for my own children as they go through high-school and college.” Sarah Rampton, sister of our brother Ted Kennedy, reflected how “this very competitive guy has become the kindest man I know, thanks to the brothers he lives with. And they have all become my family, so when I need help, I simply call them.” “He has gone from being my son to also being my closest friend,” said Pierre Angleys of his son, Nico.
Alumnus Chris Larson got everybody’s attention when he said: “I am the living proof of the spectacular failure of your organization… you waster millions of dollars on formation and only one in seven men actually stay with the brotherhood. But praise God for this ‘waste’ since it has impacted hundreds, maybe thousands of men who now have families and serve their companies, communities and churches.”
We are grateful for God’s faithfulness over those 45 years and for the support of so many family members and friends. May the journey continue!