There are various levels of membership within the Jesus Fellowship. Covenant members (Style 3) make up possibly a quarter of the members of the fellowship, around 700 members in total. It is these members who live within the communes the group has formed in many towns, cities and villages throughout the country. Collectively known as the New Creation Christian Community, the commune dwellers make up the committed core members of the fellowship. The community and its members, also make up what has been considered to be the most controversial aspects of the fellowship, with members of other styles who live outside the community rarely receiving the attention of the media. You could be forgiven for thinking that the New Creation Christian Community IS the Jesus Fellowship, rather than being just a fraction of the entire group.
Members of the community live within property owned, maintained, and let to them by the Jesus Fellowship Community Trust. The Trust owns a variety of properties which it lets out to the community, ranging from small village houses, to farmhouses and former stately homes. The majority of residences are large town houses, some knocked through to adjacent properties providing larger dwellings.
A household typically consists of between 10 to 50 members depending upon the size of the property. The members of the household are made up of varying number of ordinary members and elders, and often a senior elder who has overall responsibility for the household. Each house is given a friendly, often inspirational sounding name, with the residents considered to be living together as a family.
In total, there are around 60 community houses around the country with many scattered around the Northamptonshire villages surrounding New Creation Farm, around half a dozen in Northampton. Others locations include Birmingham, Coventry, Daventry, Kettering, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Milton Keynes, Newcastle under Lyme, Norwich, Nottingham, Oxford, Preston, Seaford (near Brighton), Rugby, Sheffield, Stoke on Trent, Towcester (near Daventry) and elsewhere.
The New Creation Christian Community website : www.newcreation.org.uk
Voidspace, Church Life with the Jesus Army
Is the New Creation Christian Community the new aristocracy of the East Midlands?
17/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY : IN THE BEGINNING
In 1986, overcrowding became an issue.
10/01/1986 : SECT IS TOLD NOT TO CROWD HOUSES
In 1996 a community house in Northampton was damaged by an arson attack. All of the residents escaped unhurt.
13/12/1986 : PRAYERS AFTER 10 FLEE FIRE AT HOME
Back in the Poll Tax days, the community faced increasing bills.
22/03/1990 : JESUS PEOPLE HIT BY POLL TAX
01/02/1990 : NO ESCAPE FROM POLL TAX FOR THE JESUS PEOPLE
In 2002 an arsonist started fires within a community house in Northampton, the members of the household where out at the time.
26/03/2002 : FIREBUG HITS JESUS CENTRE
Living Stones (Community house website) : www.livstones.freeserve.co.uk
Promise House (Community house website) : www.promisehouse.org.uk
Jesus Fellowship Oxford On www.communigate.co.uk
Jesus Fellowship Oxford oxyopia
Members of each community household 'donate' their income into a central coffer with the other members of the household. Frequently referred to as the households Common Purse. The common purse is held and maintained by the senior elder of the household. Money from the purse is used to pay rent to the Jesus Fellowship Community Trust for the property, and for the day to day expenditure of the household. An agreement exists within the household not to waste money, and although members have access to withdraw cash from the purse should they require it, they have to give good reason, and are usually required to provide receipts for their expenditure.
Although the leaders of the fellowship have stressed many times that the donation of a members entire income to the household purse is entirely voluntary, it is actually a prerequisite of joining a community household. As the fellowships spokesman recently commented on the subject of the common purse 'Everyone hands over their wages to ensure everybody is on the same footing for an equal society. If you do not want to partake, then you do not have to sign up.'
Any money remaining within the common purse once the rent and expenditure of the household has been met, is then donated to the Fellowship.
The common purse.
08/10/1984 : SPECIAL REPORT : A CLASS SYSTEM WITH A DIFFERENCE
The group syndrome!
21/10/1982 : LETTERS PAGE - THE GROUP SYNDROME
Personally, the members have nothing.
04/07/1989 : LETTERS PAGE - WE'VE NOTHING
08/07/1989 : LETTERS PAGE - HE MUST BE JOKING
Members of the New Creation Christian Community have committed themselves to their faith and the Jesus Fellowship. On top of regular Sunday gatherings in public halls, schools, and community rooms, house-group meetings are regularly held in Fellowship community households throughout the country.
Within the community households, members live a sparse lifestyle supposedly comparable with the early Christian Church.
Ordinary members of the community are assigned an elder. It's the elders job to coach their assigned member in the ways of the community. They take on the roll as mentor, father figure and sometimes spiritual guide. There main roll is to guide the member and help them fit into community life, it is also their job to discipline members who act against the rules, or behave without the benefit of the community in mind.
There are various restrictions and rules imposed upon the members of the New Creation Christian Community. There are no televisions or radios within the households, although newspapers are sometimes available. Alcohol and Drugs are prohibited. Music should be of a Christian nature. 'Worldly' goods and ways are strongly discouraged, as are personal possessions which are kept to a minimum. Relationships are discouraged to an extent, and are not permitted with those outside the fellowship. Relationships and marriages between members are allowed, but courtship can only commence once agreed by the assigned elder for each member. Sex outside of marriage is against the rules, as are single sex relationships.
Males within in the Fellowship are considered the dominant sex. The traditional values of many years ago are observed, where women are expected to look after the men and the children. Women wear skirts or dresses and not trousers and are usually responsible for the more traditional roles performed by women in the past, cooking cleaning etc. Segregation of men from women and single sex meetings are commonplace. Single sex meetings are held particularly for the men, in the hope that modern day disciples are found.
Male members are encouraged to declare a life of celibacy, and those who choose to do so are greatly admired by the elders, particularly by Noel Stanton, who, it is said, has been a celibate for decades. Being a celibate within the community is almost considered to be a higher form of membership, as in taking a vow of celibacy they are showing a greater commitment to their faith.
A look at some of the aspects of life within the community
27/09/1982 : LETTERS PAGE - 'WE THINK THEY MIGHT AS WELL BE IN PRISON'
28/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY : DISCIPLINED LIVES OF FELLOWSHIP CHILDREN
09/10/1984 : SPECIAL REPORT : NO TELLY, NO RADIO, NO DRINK AND NO SPORT ...
09/10/1984 : SPECIAL REPORT : THEY CAN PLAY BUT CAN'T WIN
1985 : LIFE?NEWS : 'Thou Shalt Not': Community legalism and conscience
25/09/1986 : OUR DOOR IS ALWAYS OPEN
05/09/1987 : WHY THEY ALL FOLLOW THE LEADER
07/07/2000 : SALVATION IN THE ARMY?
Finding romance within the community isn't as straight forward as celibacy.
27/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY - HOW (A Woman), 21 ,WOULD COPE WITH ROMANCE IN HER LIFE
10/10/1984 : SPECIAL REPORT : I BECAME A MORAL ROBOT ...
10/10/1984 : SPECIAL REPORT : 'THEY CALLED ME JUDAS WHEN I LEFT'
1985 : LIFE?NEWS : FAMILIES AND MARRIAGE: SEXUAL RELATIONS RESTRICTED
Members describe their experience within the community.
18/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY : FOR THIS MAN IT'S HAPPINESS
18/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY : FOR THIS GIRL, A NIGHTMARE
27/09/1982 : LETTERS PAGE - FRIENDSHIP, HELP, LOYALTY
22/04/1997 : SECT ROBBED ME OF MY CHILDHOOD
A male dominated community.
25/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY - THE AUTHORITY OF MAN OVER WOMAN
25/10/1984 : LETTERS PAGE - ARE WOMEN SO INFERIOR?
The fellowship describe ordinary members and elders as equals.
24/09/1982 : SPECIAL ENQUIRY : EVERYONE EQUAL
The fellowship like to compare the community with the early Christian Church.
30/09/1982 : LETTERS PAGE - WHY CRITICISE FOR OBEDIENCE TO JESUS
17/03/1984 : HOW DAVE FOUND JOY
17/03/1984 : 'COME AND SEE HOW WE WORK'