Common Security Clubs (aka Resilience Circles) are a church-based way of addressing the spiritual problem many have – namely, that it’s often harder to receive than it is to give, Energy Bulletin’s Sarah Byrnes says.
The Rev. Branwen Cook, who participates a Common Security Club in Roslindale, MA, recalls that “the earliest followers of Jesus ‘had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need’” (see Acts 2:44-45). “Joining together to create a structure in which we can all benefit is to join in the action of the resurrected Christ. As we share recipes, the cost of childcare, plumbing expertise, and the work of making a vegetable garden on the church lawn, we are taking steps toward having ‘all things in common,’ a part of true discipleship.”
Often, even congregants who know each other have trouble discussing their economic situation; they feel it is either embarrassingly good or shamefully bad. At the Church of the Savior in Washington, D.C., Mike Little tells us that “Money is truly the last taboo at our churches. It’s easier for us to talk about absolutely anything else: sex, politics, you name it.” Circles are a place to break through this isolation and get real with each other.
Both mutual aid and social action help participants regain a sense of power over their lives. We discover not only a new sense of abundance in the mutual aid offerings, but also an invigorated sense of the possibilities for real world action. Rebuilding community and creating local resilience take on new urgency and importance. “The Common Security Club has allowed us to get on the path of creating alternatives rather than just complaining about limited options,” says Woullard Lett, a circle leader at his congregation in Manchester, NH.
The exchanging of “gifts and needs” is a key activity at the heart of the curriculum, designed to help folks slowly stretch their “mutual aid muscles.” Participants name things they can offer and share, from child care to inexpensive recipe tips to guitar lessons to a 20-foot ladder. And, they open up to receiving such gifts from one another.