Since 1986 "we" has referred to the permanent and short-term residents of the large residence at NE 18th Ave and Tillamook Streets called The Peace House. We live together as an ecumenical community of faith powered by metanoia and rooted in the radical witness of justice and peace that lies at the heart of the Gospel proclaimed by Jesus of Nazareth.
We are joined by others who, though they do not reside in the Peace House, participate with us in our daily life and ministry.
We are also an official, if not typical, United Methodist congregation known as Metanoia Peace Community.
Found in the Greek New Testament, metanoia is most often translated in English as “repentance.” Unfortunately, for most Americans repentance has come to mean mostly (a) a feeling such as regret, remorse, contrition, or shame, or (b) an act of piety in response to such feelings, such as apology, penance, or reparation. Yet none of these words does justice to the New Testament meaning of repentance.
The Greek word metanoia is formed by combining the word meta meaning “beyond” and the word noia meaning “mind.” The combination literally means “beyond mind.” It conveys the idea of a new mind-set, a new way of thinking and acting, a different orientation to life itself. To repent really means to start thinking and acting in a radically different way, because the old wy is not working.
Today thirteen of us live in the Peace House itself. We are a diverse intergenerational community ranging in ages 7 months to 90 years. We gather every morning at 7:00 AM Monday through Friday (7:30 on Saturdays) to begin the day with singing, scripture reading and reflection, and prayer for ourselves and others. Every evening we reassemble for a common meal. We are joined in these shared activities by others in our larger circle of friends and neighbors, and first time visitors are always welcome to join us.
How we Came to Be
The Peace House community began in early 1986 as a joint effort of seven adults who were also involved in the formation of Metanoia Peace Community United Methodist Church. Twenty-Seven other friends made short-term loans to provide the cash to acquire the old neglected house at N.E. 18th Avenue and Tillamook Street. In April of 1987, after the house had been fixed up and the loans repaid with funds from the sale of property owned by founding members John and Pat Schwiebert and Bruce and Ann Huntwork, the property was deeded as a gift to Metanoia Peace Community, and the residents became stewards of the property, rather than owners, thus making clear that this venture was no private investment, but the medium for an on-going ministry to a larger public constituency.
The house and grounds
The house itself was originally built in 1908 as a single family residence, by a newly married couple, offspring of two early Portland families--the Hoyts and the Cooks. It was designed by John V. Bennes, an early disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright. A library addition was built in 1925 and the kitchen was enlarged during the 1950’s. After the fire in 1987, we replaced the original hip roof with a gable roof, expanded and remodeled the kitchen, added work space for Grief Watch in the basement, and built an outside deck at the north end of the building. With these additions we increased the available interior floor space to about 8,000 square feet. We added a second, larger deck on the south side in 1993, and constructed a public “Peace Plaza” in 2002. Our newest addition is a garden labyrinth in the front yard--available to the public 24-hours-a-day as a place for walking meditation.