The First Five Years (1971-1976)

The First Five Years (1971-1976)

In the late 1960s as the Charismatic Renewal began in North America, a number of men and women were converted radically and decided to form Christian communities such as Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some of the men of that community also began reading about celibacy and various rules of life of brotherhoods over the years. At Pentecost 1971 a group of eight men, including Steve Clark, our founder, made a one year commitment to live single for the Lord.

The Second Five Years (1976-1981)

The Second Five Years (1976-1981)

In the period from 1976 to 1981 the brotherhood establishes a more developed structure: a formal Formation program is put in place, and long-term approach to finances is being worked out. We affirm our openness to brothers working in secular occupations. A decision in principle is being taken to establish a brotherhood center in the Ann Arbor area, complete with retirement home and burial grounds. The covenant is revised.

The Third Five Years (1981-1986)

The Third Five Years (1981-1986)

In August 1982 another brotherhood from Minneapolis called “The Sword of the Spirit”, moves down to Ann Arbor and merges with the Servants of the Word. This added 13 committed brothers plus another 8–10 men in various stages of interest.
In January 1983 our tax-exempt application is approved. Twenty-two new brothers make lifelong commitments, so that by 1986 we have a total of 43 lifelong brothers.

The Troubles: Losses & Setbacks (1991-1996)

The Troubles: Losses & Setbacks (1991-1996)

These years see a significant crisis in the Sword of the Spirit and the Servants of the Word. Many brothers leave. But even during that time other brothers join us, including Rogel Plata from the Philippines, the first lifelong brother in the Servants of the Word to pass away (in 1996 from cancer).

Rebuilding: Renewed Determination, Hope & Vision (1995-present)

Rebuilding: Renewed Determination, Hope & Vision (1995-present)

In 1995 we hold the first Servants of the Word leadership forum, a clear sign of moving forward after years of crisis. In September 1996 we celebrate our 25th anniversary, together with 300 of our friends and family.

THE FIRST FIVE YEARS (1971-1976)

The Beginnings1

In the late 1960s as the Charismatic Renewal began in North America, a number of men and women were converted radically and decided to form Christian communities such as Word of God community in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Some men from that community also began reading about celibacy and various rules of life of brotherhoods over the years. At Pentecost 1971 a group of eight men, including Steve Clark, our founder, made a one year commitment to live single for the Lord.

Fall, 1971 (Year 1)

In the fall of 1971 during a week-long retreat, these men begin to formulate principles of a rule (called a “covenant”) and make a temporary commitment to follow it. A stable pattern of prayer and common life emerges.

2

 

Fall, 1972 (Year 2)

The brothers, including others who are beginning to join them, begin to live in “households” together, the first house being 335 Packard. Through living together, the brothers begin to work out relationship problems, thus developing what later becomes the community course “Christian Personal Relationships”.

 

Fall, 1973 (Year 3)

In the  fall of 1973 the first four brothers make lifelong commitment to live single for the Lord, at Genesee Abbey, NY. On January 5,1974 five brothers make lifelong commitments to the brotherhood – this is the official beginning of the Servants of the Word.

34Fall, 1974 (Year 4)

Two households move into 710 Catherine Street in the fall of 1974. Thanks to the help of a Messianic Jewish brother we develop the Lord’s Day celebration, adapted from the Jewish Shabbat ceremony. Celebrations become part of our life.

 

Fall, 1975 (Year 5)

In the fall of 1975 the first two Protestants make full commitments, thus making our ecumenical call a reality. In January 1976 we receive our name “The Servants of the Word”. Steve Clark develops the Prayer, Ideal and Matthew series, foundational teachings for our life.

Our Fifth Anniversary

In 1976 we celebrate our fifth anniversary. The covenant receives its final form. A first group of brothers moves to Belgium to serve there.

THE SECOND FIVE YEARS (1976-1981)

56In the period from 1976 to 1981 the brotherhood establishes a more developed structure: a formal Formation program is put in place, and a long-term approach to finances is being worked out. We affirm our openness to brothers working in secular occupations. A decision in principle is being taken to establish a brotherhood center in the Ann Arbor area, complete with retirement home and burial grounds. The covenant is revised.

Demands for brothers increase, a strong focus on mission emerges in our life.

It is a period of significant growth: in five years, we have moved from two households in Ann Arbor and one in Belgium to six households in Ann Arbor and two in London.

We have now also become an ecumenical, intercultural and interracial brotherhood. Men from other countries such as Lebanon, Belgium and Austria are beginning to show interest in our life.

THE THIRD FIVE YEARS (1981-1986)

In August 1982 another7 brotherhood from Minneapolis called “The  Sword of the Spirit” moves down to Ann Arbor and merges with the Servants of the Word. This adds 13 committed brothers plus another 8–10 men in various stages of interest.

In January 1983 our tax-exempt application is approved.

Twenty-two new brothers make lifelong commitments, so that by 1986 we have a total of 43 lifelong brothers.

The brotherhood center finally becomes a reality: on March 31, 1983 we have the final signing of the land contact, the following 9summer we build the first house. The first deer is shot the following November. In February 1984 we dedicate the first house. Another house is built in 1988.

In 1982 The Sword of the Spirit co8mes into being and the Servants of the Word become an international brotherhood. In 1984 men from New Jersey, Baltimore, Manila, Lebanon and Austria move to Ann Arbor to participate in the formation program. The same year the first non-American brother makes his lifelong commitment.

In 1986 two Filipino brothers make their lifelong commitment, initiating a new Servants of the Word household in Manila, and a long-term commitment to the country of the Philippines.

THE TROUBLES: LOSSES & SETBACKS (1991-1996)

10These years see a significant crisis in the Sword of the Spirit and the Servants of the Word. Many brothers leave. But even during that time other brothers join us, including Rogel Plata from the Philippines, the first lifelong brother in the Servants of the Word to pass away (in 1996 from cancer).

Overall, of the 61 lifelong brothers in 1990, 22 brothers left the Servants of the Word between 1990 and 1995. Five more brothers left after 1995. Nine brothers who left us have become ordained priests or ministers.

REBUILDING: RENEWED DETERMINATION, HOPE & VISION (1995-PRESENT)

11In 1995 we hold the first Servants of the Word leadership forum, a sign of moving forward after years of crisis. In September 1996 we celebrate our 25th anniversary together with 300 of our friends and family.

Various brothers pursue further studies: in December 1999 Dr. Mark Whitters graduates from Catholic U with a PhD in Biblical Studies, a year later Dr. Dan Keating and Dr. John Yocum graduate with PhDs from Oxford.

The Servants of the Word make a new investment in youth work, establishing what becomes YouthWorks – Detroit and Kairos North America.

We establish a household in Belfast, Northern Ireland and subsequently start Youth Initiatives in 1989.

The brotherhood center is expanded: we build a pole barn in 1997 and set up a cemetery in 2010.

In 2000 we establish a new household in Detroit.

In 2002 John Keating is elected as presiding elder, taking over in 2003 from Bruce Yocum. In 2010 Ken Noecker is elected and takes over a year later.

In 2010 we start a new household in Grand Rapids, and in 2013 a new one in Costa Rica.

In 2014 13772 Island Lake Road, the 2nd house at the brotherhood center, is remodeled with provision for aging or infirm brothers.