A PROPOSAL: MINISTRY OF VISITATION AT AGAPE

Dear friends of Agape,

These are dark and concerning days as the world witnesses the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the deep political and cultural divides we are witnessing in our own land. It becomes so apparent that we must hold onto and nurture places of peace like Agape.

We, on the Agape Mission Council would like to share some of our discussions in the last year of the most pressing needs here at Agape in Hardwick, Massachusetts, and an invitation for you to become more closely involved in a defined and active way. We all want Agape to thrive. Steve and Nancy James, the authors of this letter, are the co-founders of Agape, together with Suzanne and Brayton and Fr Emmanuel Charles
McCarthy, in 1982.

We have been richly blessed to be a part of this vibrant, active community. Although we have spent over 30 years living and working in Haiti, we were very connected to all of you in in the extended Agape Community.
Whenever we returned to the States, we returned to Agape to physically
reconnect. These special visits with our family, including our six children
blessed and renewed our spirits.

Through our years of friendship and connections, we have been reminded of
what Martin Luther King Jr. so eloquently articulated as the “Beloved
Community.” We see Agape challenging us to live our loves caring for one
another as Jesus did while he was on earth.

“Ministry of Visitation and Presence.”

One of our joys in our living in the Beloved Community of Haiti was to visit
people in their homes, listening, sharing, serving, and praying with them. We referred to this process as “Ministry of Visitation and Presence.” Such a ministry brought us closer to the needs of those we served. Sometimes it would be a medical visit, but often it was just out of concern for the person or family, and we wanted to be able to connect in a deeper, more personal way encouraging our sisters and brothers in their struggles. Sensing a divine leading in this ministry of physical presence, we joyfully made this commitment, coming away from these visits richly blessed and grateful.

Despite the pandemic last year, we were able to spend a week at Agape.
Steve helped split and stacked firewood and worked in the garden with some
of the interns and Brayton.
I, Nancy, loved helping in the kitchen, preparing the fresh garden produce
for meals or for freezing for the winter. Suzanne showed me how to make a
wonderful quick, whole-wheat bread for our meals. We so much enjoyed the
early morning prayers around the circle in the chapel.
Our time together there deepened our long-time connection and love for the
community. Pre-covid, Francis Day, had been a wonderful connection for
hundreds of people who have gathered over the years.

Envisioning a New Agape

This letter is an invitation for all of us to envision a new Agape. We pray,
as you are led, that you will feel inspired to make an in-person visit to Agape
in the months ahead to share in the work it requires in keeping the work of
peace and justice, nonviolence education through retreats, and homesteading
going on in a vibrant way.

Agape’s current needs are:
1. Homesteading (gardening, chopping and stacking wood)
2. Hosting work teams, retreatants, interns. (Cleaning and Prep cooking
and/or shopping)—full year role now out with stipend
3. Office management—part time contracted job posting is out
4. Outreach/Public Relations/Special Events

Please email Agape ([email protected]) if you would like
to plan some time helping out and be a part of the blessing of a “ministry of
visitation.” Let us know exact dates so we can put you on our calendar!
You will be blessed and be a blessing!

Shalom,
Steve and Nancy James
Mission Council Members and Agape co-founders

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