Austin Community Fellowship began in a two-flat in the Austin Community.
It was started by a group of twenty-something’s from Circle Evangelical Free Church (Pastor David Mains) who heard the Lord call them to live out their faith in a new way. They formed an intentional Christian community that shared resources, including housing, and shared a vision of impacting a declining community with God’s love.
In the beginning, most members resided at 5962 W. Midway Park or 5901 W. Race (Comara house–Corner of Mayfield and Race). They shared a common treasury which was a big help to Circle Community Center in its early days. They developed deep relationships, not only because they lived together, but because they shared on a spiritual level also. Living together reduced expenses because buying in bulk made sense, but each family did not have to have its own dishes, appliances, furniture, etc. They were able to equip one really good wood-working shop that everyone could use rather than each family having their own tools. Everyone shared in the chores, but rather than having half-a-dozen kitchens to clean, there was only one per house. It was pretty easy to find a babysitter, too.
This picture shows the community in 1975–the founders of the Medical Clinic, the Counseling Office, the Legal Services, and CCC itself. Steven Montgomery and Steve Adelsman were involved with spiritual oversight.
Authority issues arose as the children grew older–when they wanted to do something, they weren’t sure if they should ask their parents or the head of the household.
As the number of children increased, some families moved to apartments in the immediate area. They still maintained a common treasury, with each family getting a share.
Education of the children was another issue–the local public school teachers were focused on keeping control of the class and helping the ones with the most issues. Since education was very important to the professionals, a variety of solutions developed, some costing more than others. Some sent their children to Grace Lutheran School in River Forest. Others tried to use magnet schools. A number ended up home schooling.
The community was blessed by having Beech Tree Circle available to them at no cost when either community living or life in Austin was getting to them.
In late 1979, the members left Circle Church and became their own church. This worked reasonably well until Glen and Lonni were called to Rock Church. When the fellowship dissolved in 1986, the assets were given to CUM. Close relationships because of shared history remain and a number of buildings on Midway Park and Race are owned by people who were part of Austin Community Fellowship.