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The Village is a neo-monastic mega house church nestled in the heart of Tucson. Its unique way of following God is born out of a passion to love our neighbors well by taking them into our lives and homes and serving each other out of the gifts and abilities God gives us collectively and individually. It is the way in which we live out our vision to bring healing to the city, one person at a time.

Neo-monasticism is a Village understanding of community that is different from some classic forms of monasticism. In the past, a monastery was most often a cloistered community that separated from the world in order to dedicate itself to a simple life and communion with God. Those within the walls kept vows in order to maintain community and be disciplined in seeking God. There are certainly modern day equivalents to these ancient communities. Our new form monastery seeks to tear down walls along the lines of St. Patrick’s entry into Ireland for the purpose of the mission of God. We seek to walk among our neighbors and friends as the embodiment of the gospel and live our lives together in such a way that the mission of God is honored. To that end, we choose to engage each other in homes and over meals. The building
God gave us looks a lot like a house. You walk into the kitchen and move easily into the living room. We play songs we have written, hang art that we have created on the walls, and eat food that our own hands prepare, although sometimes the cooks wants a night off so we order in pizza. We have kid rooms in the back and they are always a mess even though we beg them to clean their rooms. There are picnic tables in the backyard along with a playground area complete with swings and a slide. The house is filled with comfortable chairs and couches and we are always dragging them around in order to make it easier to engage each other. It is our home.

We are always inviting people over to the house. We love it when folks show up and we do our best to extend hospitality to them. We are a bit absentminded so we sometimes forget to tell them where the bathrooms are or ask if they’d like a drink or make sure they get some dinner before the kids come back for seconds. We try to respect the millions of diverse opinions and expectations of our guests. We truly want folks to stay and engage and maybe become part of the family even if that means they just want to be third cousins twice removed. We know it is difficult to walk into somebody’s house and feel comfortable, but that is one of our deepest longings.

We are an open monastery, but we do take vows. They are vows of love. We are guided by certain values and we agree to do our best to live them out and to honor God and each other as we do so. These primary values are community, accessibility, authenticity, creativity, truth, and the disciplines.

I believe Part one

I believe. Those are powerful words. We live in a world where we choose to believe certain things. When we say we believe something we are saying that we have faith. I believe that all the little mechanical components of my car will, if operated properly, propel me in a direction I want to go. I believe that the engineers and the designers and the assembly folks did their jobs well enough to cause the desired effect. The belief is made real when I turn the key, engage the gears, and depress the gas pedal. Or not. When people say that don’t believe I always smile to myself. People operate out of faith all the time. Our real question is what do we believe in. We exercise faith all the time. Having faith, or believing, is sometimes rewarded and sometimes not. We can be disappointed when our faith is foiled. We can assume that it is the way it is supposed to be when our faith is borne out. The Apostle’s Creed begins with the words, “I believe…” It is hard sometimes to say those words. It is hard because we aren’t always sure of what comes next. What if we don’t believe what follows? For those of us who have walked with God a long time the words can quickly flow off our tongues almost without thought. For those who are coming to terms with their belief in God or for those who have been confronted with evidence seemingly to the contrary, the words can cause us to stumble a bit. We often invite people to try saying the creed aloud. Try saying it to see what it feels like to say those words. Saying ‘I believe’ as an act of testing or trying it on for size can feel awkward and strange. The truth is that we all believe something. We either believe in God, or we don’t, or we are in that strange middle ground of being unsure. I invite you to pause a bit the next time we are rattling off the Apostle’s Creed. Think about the risk you are taking when you say the words, “I believe.” The risk of saying ‘I believe’ is that what you believe may not be true. The reward of saying ‘I believe’ is that your statement of faith may prove to be wonderfully true. It is a high risk venture. Throughout the ages many have recited the words of the Apostle’s Creed boldly and without shame. We are all doubters, but God empowers us to say with conviction that we believe. Scripture says that faith is a gift from God. When you reach that place where you can say ‘I believe’ with whole hearted conviction, it is because you have been given the gift of faith.

I believe Part Two

I believe in God. It is one thing to believe, it is quite another to believe in God. Believing in God requires us to submit to the reality that there is something bigger than us, something that is beyond our ability to control or manipulate or imagine. God, if he is to be God must be beyond us. That is hard for us. We like the gods that we invent and create and can manipulate and use and who bend to our will. God is not like that. He creates and sustains us. We are his creative work and his to do with as he pleases. He does not bend to our will, we bend to his.

It is not easy to ignore God. He is hard not to believe in. If we are honest and take a close look at all he has made it is difficult to pretend that it is all a series of happy little accidents or meaningless, mindless shoving together of randomness that results in something as complex and wonderful as a brain or a rose or a planet. That it is difficult does not diminish out capacity to pretend. Some of us struggle with being atheist. Most all of us have our moments when we are agnostic, that is, we don’t think it matters if there is a God. But, all that aside, we must come to grips with the concept of God. The Apostle’s Creed invites us to say, “I believe in God.” For all of us this is a hard thing to say. It means that we acknowledge his presence and his reality. It means we will have to come to grips with what it means to humble ourselves and recognize that we are not all there is. Such submission is difficult because like Adam and Eve, we long to be our own god. We want to rule and create and make our own way. If we say we believe in God we will have to lay down that desire. It is difficult to say, “I believe in God.'” There is also amazing things that happen in us when we can get to the place where we can say it with conviction. It is freeing to be able to say it and to believe it and to act out of that conviction. That laying down of self and lifting up the reality of the presence of God is a step of faith. And that faith is a gift from the one who made us and who would be our God. What would you have to give up in order to say that you believe in God?

I believe Part Three

I believe in God the Father. The Apostle’s Creed invites us to believe in God the Father. The fatherhood of God gives many of us pause. We think of God as Father in much the same way that we think of our earthly fathers. For much of my life I have thought of God as loving, but weak because my dad was a kind and loving man who was also unable to do many things because of health issues. So that became my picture of God. It is hard to imagine a perfect father. A father who listens and cares and is attentive and is kind and loving and who gives us what we need when we need it. Even the best dad on earth fails to be all that we long for a dad to be. God is the perfect father we long for and need.

Fathers discipline us. They do things that cause us pain because that is also a deep expression of love. Fathers sacrifice for us. They cause themselves pain so that we can have what we need. Fathers want the best for us. Fathers delight in giving good gifts to their kids. Fathers take pleasure in watching their kids do well. God is perfect in all areas of fatherhood.

It doesn’t always feel like God is a good dad. His discipline can seem harsh. He can seem distant and uninterested in us. He can give us what we think we don’t need or what we don’t want. When we say we believe in God the Father, we are saying that we believe that his incomprehensible ways are better than our comprehendible ways. That is a huge leap of faith. The next time you say, “I believe in God the Father,” think about the ramifications of that statement. He invites us by his Spirit to call him Abba which is Aramaic for daddy. Imagine the perfect daddy and invite him to be your dad

God the Father
We believe in one (Deuteronomy 6:4) almighty God (Genesis 17:1), Creator of all things visible and invisible (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 90:2). Within the nature of the one true God, there are three eternal, distinct Persons: the Father (1 Corinthians 8:6), the Son (Colossians 1:16), and the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:11-12). These three persons are the one God who has dwelt in community with Himself from eternity.

Jesus Christ the son of God 
We believe in Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, maintaining both full humanity and full divinity (John 1:1, 2, 4, 14; Luke 1:35). During His time on earth, He lived in obedience to the Father and was fully without sin (1 Peter 2:21-22). In order to offer redemption from sins, He suffered under Pontius Pilate and was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day He rose from the dead. He then ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9), where He is seated at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34) and will judge the living and the dead (1 Peter 4:5).

The Holy Spirit 
We believe in the Holy Spirit, who was promised by Jesus Christ to be a counselor forever (John 14:16), as well as a teacher and a comforter, to those who believe in Jesus Christ (John 14:26; Luke 12:12; Acts 1:2). He is given to followers of Christ as the indwelling presence of God which makes them spiritually alive (Romans 8:11; 2 Corinthians 3:6) and as a seal which guarantees redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14). The Holy Spirit is also active in the world, convicting people of sin and disbelief (John 16:8-11).

Sin 
We believe that humans were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), but that through the sin of Adam and Eve the race fell, inherited a sinful nature, and became alienated from God. All people are by nature evil, enslaved to sin, and unable to remedy their lost condition (Romans 3:10-23). The ultimate punishment for sin is death (Romans 6:23).

Redemption and Forgiveness of Sins 
We believe that God has a redemptive plan for the human race. God sent His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, to provide a means of escape. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus made the sacrifice (Hebrews 7:26-27) which provided for our sins to be forgiven, if we confess Him as Lord and believe on Him for life (Romans 10:9-10). It is by God’s grace we are rescued from sin, through faith, and not by good deeds we do (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Church and Fellowship 
We believe that the church, which is the body of Christ (Romans 12:1-13; Ephesians 1:22, 23), is a spiritual organism made up of all who follow Jesus. We believe that the church is established in local communities, and that these communities should meet on a regular basis to worship, study Scripture and provide encouragement (Hebrews 10:24-25). Believers in the local church should provide for each other’s needs and preach the gospel to the surrounding world (Acts 2:42-47; Matthew 28:19-20).

Baptism and Communion 
We recognize the baptisms of those who believe, whether received as an infant or after coming to faith in Christ (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 18:8). We believe that baptism and communion are given to the church as a testimony to the world of salvation through Christ (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

The Return of Christ 
Christ will return to earth and make all things new (1 Thessalonians 4:16-5:2).

Accessibility
From the beginning we have believed that the Village should be a place where anyone can come and be accepted. We have fought hard against our own prejudices and lies so that we can be doorways into the kingdom of God. We resist our exclusionary ways in order to allow people to find God at their own pace and in their own way. We seek to understand the perspective of others and to love them as they are. We find that Jesus was willing to be associated with those whom society thought were outcasts as well as religious and government leaders and we seek to emulate Jesus as we engage the people he places in our path. We hope to place no stumbling block between Jesus and the people we meet except for the gospel itself.

Authenticity
We believe that walking the narrow way Jesus calls us to is difficult, and we attempt to be honest about the struggle. We want our community to be unafraid to confess sin and failure, and we want to be sure that people count the cost as they begin their walk with Jesus. We weep with those who mourn and rejoice with those who rejoice. We do not sugarcoat the journey and we spend a good deal of our time dealing with our own sin as well as the sin of those we have come to love as sisters and brothers. We strive to display not only the good hearts God has placed in us, but also deal with the residue of the old man we still drag around.

Community
Foremost among our values is that we are called to be the body of Christ and to live in community with each other. We recognize that being together is hard and that it takes work and sacrifice to be able to truly love and serve each other. We often throw parties and share meals in our homes as a way to offer the gifts of love and hospitality to others. Messages are preached in such a way that the community normally has opportunity to also speak into the passage. Various events such as Pilgrim Groups and Monastic Community Gatherings foster intimacy and we also host parties and other events in order to have places to connect our community with the broader community of Tucson. We teach and are taught to submit ourselves to the community and to listen for the truth that the community speaks into our lives. We strive to be a community known by its love.

Creativity
At the Village we believe that people are made in the image of a creative God and that because this is true, we also create. Calling people to be creative in the way God has uniquely fashioned them is a huge part of our being in community. We call on people to attempt to draw, paint, photograph, sculpt, write poetry and computer programs, create music, write lyrics, cook, bake, garden, renovate buildings, and engage in other creative endeavors and then share the products of that creativity with the community. We choose to use worship songs that are created in our own community or in other nearby communities where we find relationships. We display the creativity of our community as part of our offering to God. We sponsor art shows, music concerts, and other places to proffer the things we have created to the Village community and to the broader community. We have also made the website a place to display the creativity of our community.

The Disciplines
We believe that the path to freedom, healing, and joy is found in the disciplines of prayer, reading God’s Word, meditating, fasting, and self-denial, as well as in other spiritual disciplines. We have invited people into times of solitude and reflection and try to keep the practice of the disciplines part of our own routines. The elders regularly pray over and anoint people with oil for the purpose of bringing healing and hope. Some have invited people into their homes for a season in order to help them grow more disciplined lives in the area of resisting addictive behaviors or handling their financial affairs. Annually we covenant together to allow ourselves to be disciplined by those God has placed in spiritual authority over us.

Truth
We believe in truth. We also believe that the evil one distorts the truth and invites us to believe lies. We make it our passion to speak the truth in love to each other, that is, to speak the truth to each other as we grieve the losses and the struggles of being called to deal with lies we have chosen to believe. We believe the Bible is true and that it is a primary place where God speaks truth to us. We also believe that God speaks truth to us in our community and through the still, small voice of his Spirit. We try to speak truth to the cultural lies of the Tucson community as well as offering the way, the truth, and the life of Jesus to those who need desperately to hear the simple, painful beauty of truth. We attempt to speak the truth without harsh judgment and condemnation, but with the gentle love of Jesus and a deep awareness of our own willingness to hang on to lies.

Belonging
The specific purposes of belonging are:

Community. Just as the Godhead of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit exists in community, we as created beings are made for community, both with the Godhead and with each other. Membership is intended to foster deep, authentic community through corporate worship, sound teaching, faithful prayer, and loving relationships.
– Encouragement and Accountability. The community of the Village exists to encourage its members to persevere in hardship. It also exists to hold its members accountable in their pursuit of the spiritual disciplines.
Love. Membership provides opportunities to give and receive love within the context of the church community. In love, we bear one another’s burden and place each other before ourselves.
Mission. One of the core functions of the Village community is to help fallen and broken human beings be reconciled to their loving and perfect God – a relationship in which they are transformed to fulfill the purpose for which God made them (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).

The Village Belonging Covenant
Purpose: when anyone enters into relationship with God by grace from, and faith in, the person and work of Jesus Christ they are entering into two covenants. The first is to journey with God for the rest of their lives and love Him fully. The second is to journey with His other children in the community of the local church. Your Belonging in a church is an official recognition of this, and the purposes of the Village belonging Covenant is:
1. to join the Spirit in forming an authentic church community that reflects the relationship between the Father, Son, & Spirit.
2. To clarify the on-going blessings & responsibilities of each belonger.
3. To encourage consistency, accountability, and loving unity within the church family.
4. To accomplish God’s call for the Village church family. This agreement does not imply that you will never fall short of the goals, but that the desire of your heart is to fulfill each of the responsibilities stated to the best of your ability. We trust that your commitment will be a personal blessing to your own journey in Christ, as well a blessing to those around you.

The Leaders
With the help of the Holy Spirit, the church leadership covenants the following:
1. We commit ourselves to lovingly caring for you and seeking your growth in Christ (Heb. 13:17; I Thes. 5:12).
2. We covenant to provide teaching, preaching and counsel from the Scriptures (Gal. 6:6; I Tim. 5:17-18).
3. We commit that this teaching will span the whole counsel of God’s Word (Acts 20:27-28).
4. We commit to helping you in times of need (Acts 2:42-47, 4:32-35, Jm. 2:14-17).
5. We covenant that your tribal elders and tribal Lead ministers will meet the criteria assigned to them in the Scriptures (I Tim. 3:1-13 & 5:17-22, Titus 1:5-9, I Pt. 5:1-4).
6. We covenant to pray for you regularly, particularly when you are sick (Jm. 5:14).
8. We covenant to exercise church discipline when necessary (Matt. 18:15-20; I Cor. 5; Gal. 6:1).
9. We covenant to help you become equipped to serve Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).
10. We covenant to seek God’s will for our church community to the best of our ability as we study the Scriptures and follow the Spirit (Acts 20:28, I Peter 5:1-5).
11. We covenant to set an example and join you in fulfilling the duties of Belonging (1 Co. 11.1, Philip. 3:17, I Tim. 4:12).

The Community
With the guiding help of the Holy Spirit, I, the undersigned, covenant the following:
1. I have read and understood Apostle’s Creed and agree to not be divisive to its teaching. I also understand the importance of submission to church leadership and will be diligent to preserve unity and peace (Hebrews 13:7, 17; Ephesians 4:1-3)
2. I will endeavor to maintain a close relationship with Jesus: My journey in Christ will be evident through my regular participation in the corporate worship services, and involvement in other small gatherings(Ps. 119:97, 105l; Acts 2:42-47; Hebrews 10:23-25).
3. .I will strive to properly manage the resources God has given me, including my time, body, gifts and talents, attitudes, finances and possessions (Eph.5:15-18; Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:1-16; Gal 5:22-26; Proverbs 3:9-10). This includes regular giving to Village that is sacrificial and cheerful (2 Corinthians 8&9).
4. I commit myself to the Village church family and agree to aid in fulfilling its missional purpose to both be and bring the gospel to Tucson
5. I commit to using the spiritual gift(s) God has given me for the building up of the church, both at the Village and universally (I Pt. 4:10-11; Romans 12:1-8, 1Corinthians 12:7-31).
6. I covenant to practice the humility and sacrificial attitude of Christ by considering the needs of others (Philippians 2:1-11), not gossiping (Pr. 16:28, Matt.18: 15-17), and seeking spiritual friendships
7. I covenant to have friendly Christian relationships with brothers and sisters in Christ from other churches, but I will not function in leadership or belong to another church family (Hebrews 13:17).
8. I covenant to follow the biblical procedures of church discipline, and submit myself to discipline if the need should ever arise (Matt. 18:15-17,Gal. 6:1-5).
9. I covenant to submit to the authoritative voice of Scripture (Psalm 119, 2 Tim. 3:16-17).

December is ‘fallow’ month here at The Village.
It is a time when we pull back from the big pull to be super busy during the Christmas season. No hustle and bustle. No crazy schedules. No programs and extra practices. No exhausting rehearsals. No frantic shopping sprees. No madness. The concept of ‘fallowness’ is found in the Bible; Every six years of cultivating the fields was followed by a ‘fallow year’: “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused (Exodus 23:10).

Naturally, to allow the field to lay ‘fallow’ every seventh year is wise agriculture since doing so would allow the soil to be replenished, increasing its fertility,. However, while this may have been the result of the ‘fallow’ season, it was not the primary reason for it. In verse 11 we find the simplest purpose of ‘leaving ground fallow,’ namely, that the poor may eat and, after them, the wild beasts. Further, regarding their spirituality, observing a ‘fallow season’ was, at its core, a practical expression of the Israelites’ faith in the God who would provide for their needs; in sum, it was a larger ripple in the flowing rhythm of Israel’s weekly Sabbath observance. Simply, God desires refreshment for His people; this is the primary intention of Sabbath or ‘Fallow’ observance.

Therefore, in this spirit, The Village community, with rest and refreshment in mind, has traditionally held December as a ‘season of stillness’ or fallowness. It is intended to provide ‘space’ in your life so that you can be still & listen for God’s voice & simply rest in His presence; Jesus Himself calls this ‘the better thing’ (Luke 10). A word to the wise: while practicing fallowness will refresh you, it is also likely to agitate you; your specific issues will surely arise. For me, since I am performance driven, ceasing from being productive strikes at my issue of finding worth and value – my identity! – in what I do. Being fallow is a needed corrective to both finding rest and refreshment in Jesus but also freshly aligning my self with my new identity as a beloved child of God. How does fallowness rub you?

For our community, December is the season when we slow to a snail’s pace to allow space in our lives to hear from and engage God in new and vital ways. It is a time to seek and find spiritual, emotional, and physical refreshment. It’s a time to be still. To listen. To confess. To rejoice, reflect. To read & relax. To smell, see, feel, hear & taste life in fresh ways. To visit family & relish friends. To serve others. A time for walks. For children. For laughing. To catch up on crying. To do all the things we long for during the Christmas season but don’t take time to do. Is “fallow”easy during your busiest month? Nope; its really hard; it is both counter intuitive & counter-cultural.
But for those who have actually taken the risk & experienced it, it is surprisingly . . . Kingdom consistent!

Pastor James

Advent usually falls between November 27 and December 25. The purpose of Advent is to prepare ourselves to celebrate Jesus’ birth, to spend time thinking about Jesus as our redeemer, and to find solace in the fact that God came to dwell with us and will make all things new in the end. The first week of Advent we focus on the prophecies of Jesus’ coming; the second week we remember Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem; the third week we consider the shepherds and remember that God sent His angels to announce His arrival to ordinary people who were on the low end of the social ladder; the fourth week we see the heavenly hosts proclaiming good news; and the fifth week we celebrate. All of this is done by lighting a candle each week to symbolize how Jesus’ birth brought light into the darkness, as recorded in John-1.

Lent is the 46 day period before Easter: 6 Sundays of celebration amidst 40 days of fasting. During the Lenten season we are called to focus on Christ’s ministry and to spend extra time in prayer, repentance, self-sacrifice, and doing good works with a focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus. It is typical during this time for people to fast some element of food. In the early days of church history, the community of God was asked to fast two meals per day. Meal preparation and consumption took a lot of time, so clearing these away provided extra time for the focal points of Lent. The forty days of fasting reflects Jesus’ forty days of fasting and the testing he experienced in the wilderness.

Three important lessons came out of Jesus’ testing, and these may be helpful to us as we participate in the Lenten season. The first is that all sustaining life comes from God and His word. The second is that God is trustworthy and will not abandon us. The third is that evil cannot be defeated by any compromise; we must humbly worship God alone.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. This day is often observed by a service which involves a priest placing a cross of ash on the forehead of each person, saying, “From dust you came and to dust you will return.” It is a solemn event intended to convey the seriousness of the process which it commences.

Pastor Eric Cepin

Eric

Contact:
Not Sure how you can contact me

Wisdom/bit of advice/quote:
“Stop whining and Get a Job”
– the best advice I was ever given!!

Duties
Preaching/Teaching, Discipleship, Vision Casting, Worship Philosophy, General Website Grunt

Marital Status:
Married to Sue

Education:
Pima, ASU, Grand Canyon, Various
No Degree

Hope and Vision for the Village:
To Heal the City: One person at a Time

How did you get involved with the Village:
I helped plant the Church w/Rod and others

A few of my favorite things:
My wife, my Kids, Beer, Longmire, Castle, Chuck, the Office, N.D. Wilson, NT Wright, my Church, Cooking, Food, Watch Sports, etc

Pastor Rod Hugen

rod hugen

Duties
Co-pastor, elder, poet, substitute dad, occasional preacher, discerner of spirits.

Wisdom/bit of advice/quote:
“God keeps getting out of his box, getting in my way, and making me trip.” A friend in response to my question about where she was with God.

Marital Status:
married for a third of a century and counting to the lovely and fetching Kathy Miller Hugen.

Education:
Business Administration degree from Grand Canyon University, lots of time in the college of Hard Knocks.

Hope and Vision for the Village:
That God says we did good with what we had.

How did you get involved with the Village:
I dreamed it up in my head and then Eric convinced me to dream with him.

A few of my favorite things:
I love basketball, Scrabble, singing, cooking without recipes, writing poetry, and the afterglow of spiritual warfare victories.

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