May 2007 - Vol. 8

The Work of Christ Community gathers regularly for charismatic praise and worship, sharing, and teaching

The Work of Christ Community

called by the Lord to be his work and to do his work

by Jerry Munk

.The Work of Christ Community, located in Lansing, Michigan, USA, traces its origins to the beginning of the charismatic renewal and covenant community movement in the late 1960s. Jerry Munk, a coordinator of the Work of Christ and one of the early members, recounts the history of this pioneer community. The Work of Christ Community today is a service center for the North American region of The Sword of the Spirit communities located in the United States and Canada. 
Early roots
The Work of Christ Community traces its beginnings to the late 1960’s when a movement known as the charismatic renewal began to sweep through Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox churches in the United States. 

Our Sword of the Spirit president, Steve Clark, along with Ralph Martin, were working for the East Lansing Newman Center at Michigan State University (MSU) in 1967. They started a weekly charismatic prayer meeting at their place, attended by a growing number of Christians, many of them students at Michigan State University. 

The chaplain of the Catholic Newman Center at MSU was not pleased to find a charismatic group led by two of his pastoral staff, so he fired Steve and Ralph—unceremoniously. They then moved on to Ann Arbor, Michigan, at the invitation of the Newman Center chaplain at the University of Michigan, where they teamed up with Gerry Rauch and Jim Cavnar, both recent graduates from Notre Dame University— but that is the story of the founding of another Christian community. 

Fun, rowdy, and full of the Holy Spirit—it must be summer-camp week.The Work of Christ Summer Camp is a powerful element of community life for children and adults.

Called together by the Lord
Those left behind in East Lansing continued to meet and pray together every week. On Pentecost Sunday, in June of 1974, the first group of 87 members, made an initial covenant commitment with one another and with the Lord: the Work of Christ Community was born.

The name, Work of Christ, was given to the community prophetically when the Lord told the leadership team that this community was being called to be his work and to do his work.

Ecumenical from the start
From its beginnings the Work of Christ has been an ecumenical Christian community. A majority of the members are Roman Catholic, but there are a large number of Protestants (primarily Lutherans and Evangelicals), many Eastern Orthodox Christians, and, for good measure, a few Melkite Catholics. The ecumenical nature of the community is reflected in the community leadership: of the six coordinators, three are Roman Catholic, two are Protestant, and one is Greek Orthodox.

The Festival of Tables is an important event for the women in the Work of Christ. Every February sisters set and decorate one of 26 tables around a theme of their own choosing. After an hour of viewing the tables, guests enjoy a nice luncheon. Proceeds from the event are given to charity.

Growth and expansion
Today the community consists of 270 adult members. The main community is located in Lansing, Michigan, and there are branches in two other nearby Michigan cities—Saginaw and Grand Rapids. The Lansing branch of the Work of Christ is organized into three districts: the Red Cedar and Grand River Districts (named for local rivers), which serve the general community population, and the Wellspring District, which serves younger people in their twenties and thirties—both singles and families. The community has two University Christian Outreach (UCO) chapters: one in East Lansing and one in Grand Rapids. 

Middle school boys and staff about to set out on a backpacking expedition. One year the Ultimate trip is for boys, the next year it is for girls. Both push participants to their limits.

Work with children and young adults
Much of the community’s energy is focused on its children. Elementary-aged children meet every month for a children’s gathering: an opportunity for the children to have their own charismatic prayer meeting. (In the Work of Christ, we pray with our children to be baptized in the Spirit at a relatively early age. This allows the children to participate fully in the life and worship of the community.) Elementary children also participate in a week-long camp each summer. Summer camp is a lot of work, but it is a wonderful experience of Christian community, both for the children who attend and for the adults who serve. 

During the middle-school years, the young teens meet every other week for prayer and sharing. They also participate in a two-week, high-adventure program called the Ultimate Trip. Whether the Ultimate Trip involves a wilderness trek, climbing mountains, or canoeing the boundary waters of Minnesota, the children develop new skills, deepen friendships, and grow in their relationship with the Lord.

The youth program continues in high school. Teens meet every other week for a large prayer meeting and on alternate weeks for small-group sharing. A high percentage of the teens make a commitment each year to an ideal that includes daily personal prayer, reading the Bible, honoring their parents, attending the youth group, and relating as brothers and sisters in the Lord. As one young man put it, “Making that small commitment prepared me to make the larger commitment to the community when I grew up.” Members of the high school group regularly attend the youth retreats and conferences of The Sword of the Spirit’s North American Region.

The Work of Christ holds a men’s and women’s conference each year. The events take place over a weekend at a college or retreat facility where there will be few distractions. About a third of those who attend are invited guests.

Regional service for communities in North America
The Work of Christ is home to the North America Kairos office, which organizes university and youth conferences, mission trips, and the regional GAP program for The Sword of the Spirit communities in the United States and Canada. It also houses the region’s administrative and financial office and many members of the community are involved in regional service as well.

Ten years ago, the Work of Christ purchased a building just across the road from Michigan State University. The community center has been a tremendous asset, accommodating administrative offices and both small and large meeting space. Recently about 600 members from all of the communities in Michigan squeezed into the large meeting room for a state-wide gathering—this seems to be the maximum capacity.

The Lord has blessed the Work of Christ: he has preserved us, he has healed us, and he has made us prosper. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

To learn more about the Work of Christ, visit our web site at

(c) copyright 2007  The Sword of the Spirit
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom