Category: the dream

As a member of this community of people, yet as a person living outside of the neighborhood, I have struggled some with how I fit into the dreams of the community at large. I suspect these feelings are natural, and have been affirmed in my place as a member and in my feelings over the last few months. for me, the hardest part is the disconnect between what I feel called to be doing (loving neighbors in the College Heights community at large) and where my life is now (living in a small but comfortable apartment right next to campus, spending most of my time in/around school, preparing to graduate in May).

With all that said, John, Rosten, and I have started on a new project that has already reenergized me and given me a focus on something I think could greatly benefit both the St. Ann Community and the College Heights neighborhood.

It’s called aquaponics.

The basic premise of aquaponics is combining aquaculture and hydroponics. Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of those before, I’ll walk you through it.

What an aquaponics system could look like.

At its simplest, the fish (typically Tilapia) swim around in the water, producing waste. This waste gets pumped up into the grow beds, which are filled with rocks or other material for the plants to sit in. The plants’ roots filter the water, using the nutrients from the fish waste to grow much faster than plants left in regular soil. The now-filtered water is sent back into the fish tank, clean and ready for the fish to use again. All in all, this process grows plants and fish quickly and without harsh chemicals and pollutants. The result is yummy vegetables and fresh fish.

Our plan as of now is to research aquaponics and build a trial system, with the hopes of maybe expanding, and later being able to teach those around us how to grow healthy food right in their backyard. It should also prove an interesting conversation point to get us talking with the neighbors. And in my mind, it’s hard to beat a good old community fish fry to get to know folks.

[Edit: Drew didn’t give this post a title, so I (Rosten) decided to add one.  It’s from a line in a song by State Radio, “Dr. Ron the Actor.” John introduced us all to this awesome band, and they’re one of my personal favorites.  Check them out!]


St. Ann Community Retreat

From Friday night until Sunday afternoon, we will be going to Buffalo Gap for a community retreat!  We will be talking about our life together thus far and who we are moving forward.  Please pray for us as we have this time of discernment, growth, and sabbath.

As part of my ministry training at ACU, I was asked to put together an e-portfolio that would be part of my evaluation throughout my time in the MDiv program. Of course, I couldn’t help but include the happenings with the St. Ann community in that portfolio. I know it’s not exactly a short read (as I’m not exactly a concise person all the time…), but I thought you might be interested in the initial testimony to this vision that I put together for my portfolio. Here you go…


God has given us a dream, a dream which we believe is God’s dream for this group, for this building, and especially for this community. It’s a dream of restoration of people and things to their intended beauty and function. It’s a dream of holy and purposeful covenant community. It’s a dream of community development, not just in economic resources but in relationships. It’s a dream of reminding people that they are allowed to dream. It’s a dream of reconciliation, a dream of wholeness and unity, a dream of harmony, peace, and joy. It’s a big dream. But that’s why it’s important to us to remember that it’s God’s dream, not our own. And God’s definitely been the one in charge of leading us this far. We take no credit for that ourselves. In fact, we know that, more often than not, we’re struggling just to stay caught up and not get in the way of the awe-inspiring things that God is doing.

One of the most immediate aspects of the dream for St. Ann is that of a covenantal monastic community of sorts. Our group hopes to renovate the two-story section of St. Ann first and live there under the rule of life that we are even now beginning to formulate. We are preparing ourselves through prayer, through individual and communal discernment, through relationship building, and in various other ways for the challenges and blessings that will come with living together in such an intense community. These kinds of practices which we’re involved in as a group now (and plan to continue to be involved in) are a demonstration of the Christian spiritual disciplines, a challenge in developing Christian character, and mutual collaboration to lead our group forward in discerning and following God’s call. The experience thus far has also been one which has confirmed and intensified my own clarity in my personal ministerial identity, allowing me to more fully explore my talents and desires in ministry and see  how they line up with the mission which God has set before our group.

At the same time, we are not wanting this vision to be limited to just our group. We are planning to form strong, meaningful relationships with our neighbors from the College Heights community. One of our greatest desires is to live out the gospel among our newfound friends in such a way that they will be attracted to our God. We are also greatly looking forward to the ways in which we will encounter God already at work among the people we meet, for God is surely there among them in powerful ways already! This vision that God has planted within us and that God is drawing us to is one in which the Christian faith and theology are in dialogue with this local cultural context, with each making the others stronger and more purposeful in the kingdom of God.

I have been continually amazed over these past few weeks by what God has been doing. It is a blessing to be a part of this process and to humbly follow and take part in the process as God is at work to reach the world with the good news of redemption and restoration. Redemption and restoration. Of buildings. Of neighborhoods. Of people. Of relationships. Of community. Of families, both physical and spiritual. Of all people and all things towards God. All to the praise of God’s glorious grace!