Agape Seeks Community Members

Thirty-three years of co-mentoring Agape as a school for nonviolence and simple living have been a great fulfillment and joy. As the community and its co-founders age, we find that Agape needs to evolve. We are making a specific and concrete effort to find people to become community members, who have moved beyond their college years and may be interested in living in community as long-term residents.

If you read this and find yourself drawn to what we describe, give us a call or email us at the Agape homestead. It could be a life-changer.

We are open to discerning this commitment with families, and single people in their 30’s or 40’s, who would embrace the challenge and inspiration of living in a rural setting, in a Christian Community, ecumenical and interfaith in outreach and practice. Members and affiliates, attempt to practice nonviolent love, radical and sustainable living, with other flawed yet resilient people who will persevere for the long haul.

At communities like Agape, there is always a need for people to come to the vineyard for the millions of tasks with which we are engaged as we live out our lives as residents in a Christian- based community. Over the past 33 years, Agape has functioned much like a school. The majority of people who have come to Agape are in their late teens through late 20’s. They come for a defined amount of time, one week to one year, to learn and love the values of community, nonviolence and sustainable living. Not limited to this age group, many from all walks of life come specifically to experience the community’s daily and weekly rhythms, prayer, work, meals together, retreats, annual events, rural immersion and other programs and celebrations. Sabbath rest and contemplation are essential ingredients of life at Agape.

Agape has an economic base which consists of ministry as a form of livelihood and offers a predictable lifestyle honed over many years of outreach nationally and through extended community support. We grow our own food, cut wood for heat, build and maintain our residences.

Our education ministry, a source of income, is one that has embraced teachers and those in the field of nonviolent ministry. Working in the vineyard of Jesus, helping the poor, protesting war and capital punishment, XL Pipeline and all of the ecological and war-related injustices and human rights violations are facets of a sometimes difficult but wholesome life that has many rewards, not the least of which is the inspired people one meets and works with on this journey.

Vision and Values of the Agape Community since 1982:

We live in the urgencies of the 21st century. At Agape we seek to create and to preserve a morally coherent life in fidelity to our faith and to the calling of people of all faiths. While grounded in the practice of our Catholic Christianity, we experience an affinity and connectedness with sisters and brothers from other faith traditions, and those who follow no particular faith tradition, learning from them and seeking to live in harmony with them.”

Agape is dedicated to a teaching ministry in nonviolence, sustainability practices (see below), retreats at the community, internships for undergraduates and graduates, rural immersion weeks, and five annual events, including an annual St. Francis Day which attracts hundreds of people.

Values of Agape and Opportunities for potential short or long-term members:

  1. Agape is ecumenical and interfaith in outreach and practice
  2. Focus on daily prayer
  3. Evangelical simplicity (eco-spirituality, sustainability, organic garden, vegetable oil fueled car, straw bale house, compost toilet, solar energy, wood stoves for cooking and heat)
  4. Nonviolent witness in the world
  5. Potential long-term community members receive free room and board in a beautiful residence, Francis House, built from the ground up
  6. Livelihood and personal growth and development include ministry possibilities of teaching at the community’s many educational events, including theology and spirituality of nonviolence, as well as program development and teaching within the Agape’s ministry throughout the US
  7. Hundreds of college students visit Agape yearly.  Community members would be interacting with and developing outreach with students
  8. Located on 34 acres of land in the bucolic town of Hardwick, MA, Agape offers easy access to Boston and other cities in New England, as well as an opportunity to experience rural community life.

Residency and involvement in ministry at Agape for young adults through middle-age includes:

  1. After an interview and application process with community co-founders, Suzanne Belote Shanley and Brayton Shanley, a potential Agape resident in will be integrated into community life at Agape in a series of stages, in exploratory residency experiences, moving incrementally in three month intervals towards the goal of a one year residence which could lead to yearly residency removal.
  2. During this one year exploratory period, a community resident would be involved in all aspects of Agape community life including the following:
  3. Prayer schedule: two times a day, 7:30 am morning prayer; noonday reflection and silence, optional evening prayer
  4. Work/homesteading schedule: after morning prayer, free time until 9 am when community residents are engaged in a variety of tasks.

-homesteading: working the land, preparing the garden for spring planting, wood gathering

-hospitality: involvement with groups, college, parish, peace groups who come for experiences of prayer/action/education at Agape

-assisting with individual retreatants in Agape’s hermitage or at the main community residence, Francis House.

  1.     Food/Garden Prep: learning to work on Agape’s large community garden (with college groups who come for rural immersions) from soil prep, to seed planting, tending the garden, harvesting, steaming, canning and freezing vegetables for community and guest use throughout the year.
  2.     Vegetarian Meal Prep with interns (people, usually of undergrad college age who come to Agape for the summer or during the year for short periods of time) as well as sharing planning and preparation of meals
  3. Ministry Program: Agape hosts five events a year (see website which require phone calls, e-mails and other outreach, as well as preparation for the events themselves.
  4. Francis Day: annual Agape Community celebration of nonviolence, sustainability, the rural life attracts several hundred people a year, the planning and implementation for which residents in ministry would be involved.
  5. Outreach to colleges: ministry and presentations on community mission and vision for which training will be provided
  6. Program/ministry development: utilizing the gifts and input of residents in ministry
  7. Agape Community Outreach and Assistance: with extended community families/individuals in need
  8. Agape has an eight year relationship with a family from Iraq which requires ongoing involvement of the community
  9. People in need come to Agape for assistance and Agape residents in ministry are encouraged to participate in programs/outreach to homeless, etc. in local Catholic worker and other organizations
  10. Finances: residents in ministry will receive room, board and financial assistance as determined by need and as required after incremental periods of residency are established and reached
  11. How to apply: please call Agape for any preliminary questions. Fill out the application on the Agape website:
  12. If possible, visit Agape for a short period, returning for the first three month Resident in Ministry experience
  13. Succeeding month experiences will evolve as community co-founders and residents in ministry decide through shared community living, prayer and conversation

Brayton Shanley’s recently published book, The Many Sides of Peace: Christian Nonviolence, the Contemplative Life and Sustainable Living is available through Agape, Wipf and Stock and Amazon. David O’Brien, professor emeritus of history, College of the Holy Cross says “This is a personal report of a remarkable experiment: a lifelong effort to live with full integrity, that is to live each day by one’s most basic commitments of mind and heart.”


Long-term Opportunities

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