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A pioneer in the modern urban religious commune was Reba Place Fellowship in Evanston, Ill., founded in 1957 by a group of students from Mennonite-run Goshen College in Indiana. Today the fellowship (which includes four of the original members) numbers 15 families and a dozen single people from many religious backgrounds, though mainly from the "peace" churches: Quaker, Mennonite, Church of the Brethren. All personal income (ranging downward from one member's $14,000 a-year salary) goes into the community. Says Virgil Vogt, a member since 1962: "Snaring our money and living together this way is what religion is all about. Our basic motivation is Christian: we're involved in the search for new forms."

Not all the methods of revitalizing the urban scene are unconventional. In downtown Philadelphia, the Rev. Dr. James Montgomery Boice, 31, has used an old-fashioned ministry of preaching and theology to inject new vigor into the fading, 140-year-old Tenth Presbyterian Church, just off Rittenhouse Square. Boice has superb credentials: a Harvard English degree, a Princeton bachelor of divinity, a doctorate in theology from the University of Basel (where Karl Barth taught). He uses his training, spends up to three days a week preparing meticulous sermons on the Bible. He is currently working his way through a year-long exposition of the Sermon on the Mount, explaining Christ's ethics step by step each Sunday. His middle-class parishioners have warmed to his teaching. Membership has risen, and attendance one Sunday early this month was 500—a peak that had not been reached in many years.

What This Neighborhood Needs

Youth can clearly be a major asset in a city ministry. Rabbi Stephen Riskin is only 29, but his congregation, Lincoln Square Synagogue, is one of the most exciting in New York. And it is Orthodox. Rabbi Riskin does not bend the law: he explains it. "Rituals teach discipline, compassion," he maintains. "How you eat, what you eat, can be a religious experience." Because he believes that a rabbi is rightly defined as "a teacher involved with his students"—and practices that belief—Riskin evokes a remarkable response. Young people gather around him at the synagogue and pack his weekly classes on Jewish mysticism. Unequivocally, Riskin feels that the 20th century is finally "giving the soul its due. We have passed the age of rationalism and are understanding that we relate to a Higher Being."

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