Becoming the Cornelius Corps

Did you ever wonder why we are called The Cornelius Corps? I like the story of - o Cornelius in Acts 10, but I never thought about the ‘Corps’ part. For 13 years the people of The Cornelius Corps have been building relationships among people of very different backgrounds. We highlight those stories from the ever-growing network of people in this newsletter twice each year. I was one of those people, for 4 years as a tutor at Ferebee-Hope Elementary in DC. For the last 5 years, I have been serving as part of the DC Advisory Board.

I cannot recall ever talking about the ‘Corps' part. We sort of knew each of us is a member of the ‘Corps’ through our participation, in whatever form of ministry that takes. But ‘Corps’, for me, denotes some organization of people for some purpose.

In 2012 my own sense of purpose and call began to take a shift. I began to explore what it would mean for me to participate in the work God is doing in reforming His Church for the 21st Century. Seeking insight and guidance, I shared what I was thinking with anyone who would listen. Jim Melson was included, and as a result we began to more intentionally work together in discernment. It was during this process I became very familiar with the Mission Group concept that undergirds Jim's call as the founder of The Cornelius Corps.

As I began to take steps towards realigning my life towards my own dreams and sense of call, Jim encouraged me to form a mission group of my own. This entailed inviting others to join me in an intentional, focused framework for staying connected with God for the purpose to which I felt called. I admittedly hedged on doing it for a while, for it would mean a commitment I was not sure others would agree to, which meant that perhaps my dream was not to be.

In late 2013, however, I began to actually do it, and started inviting people to the Rickety Bridge Mission group. Some people said yes, others did not. On March 17, 2014 we began a weekly rhythm of spiritual practice, reflection, studying, writing and sharing about the mission, about who God is in it, who we are in it, and what practically each week holds in pursuing it. I am making many changes in my life in pursuit of this dream, and it certainly is a chaotic time.

The most important choice I have made during all this time, however, is to begin and commit to this framework of discernment and call with others. It has provided accountability that we need in a very healthy way, it has provided a deep encouragement (I continue to be thankful each week that others are willing to participate fully in this), it has provided insight at all levels as the varying perspectives bring fresh thinking, and it has taught me to be grateful at ever deeper levels. The thing that I know I feel at the end of every meeting is a sense of peace and energy to continue on the journey, for I know I am not alone. That energy and groundedness carries me through the week, as well. It works, if you work it.

One of the practical outcomes from all this has helped me see what the ‘Corps' means for The Cornelius Corps at this time. Much like I have chosen to discern and follow my call, replicating what ‘worked for Jim. What if others with a desire and longing to follow Jesus even more closely did the same? What if there were many groups of people doing this in many places, using the same framework to journey together? What if these groups existed to find their own purpose, and pursued it with all diligence? We would then have a Corps - a network of people connected by a shared way of life, moving courageously into the life God has designed us for. May we all prayerfully consider becoming The Cornelius Corps.