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Jesus People USA

Overview of Jesus People USA

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Jesus People USA's Cornerstone Festival 2007

Steve White

Jesus People USA is one of the few remaining Christian communes that sprang up in the 1970s from the Jesus Movement. Over the past nearly four decades, the group has seen many members come and go, has survived controversy, and has branched out into several community outreach ministries.

The founders of the organization intended to imitate the loving atmosphere and communal structure of the early Christian church, as described in the book of Acts. Opinions vary widely between the group's leaders and many of its former members as to how successful Jesus People USA has been at that goal.

Number of Members:

About 500 people live together in the Jesus People USA community on the north side of Chicago, Illinois, USA.

Founding of Jesus People USA:

Jesus People USA (JPUSA) was founded in 1972 as an independent ministry, an offshoot of Jesus People Milwaukee. After first settling in Gainesville, Florida, JPUSA moved to Chicago in 1973. The group joined the Evangelical Covenant Church, based in Chicago, in 1989.

Prominent Jesus People USA Founders:

Jim and Sue Palosaari, Linda Meissner, John Wiley Herrin, Glenn Kaiser, Dawn Herrin, Richard Murphy, Karen Fitzgerald, Mark Schornstein, Janet Wheeler, and Denny Cadieux.

Geography:

JPUSA's ministries serve primarily the Chicago area, but its annual Christian rock concert, Cornerstone Festival, held in Bushnell, Illinois, attracts visitors from throughout the world.

Jesus People USA Governing Body:

According to JPUSA's website, "At this point we have a council of eight pastors in leadership. Directly under the council are deacons, deaconesses, and group leaders. While the primary oversight of the ministry is done by the council of elders, much of the responsibilities for the daily running of the community and our businesses are taken by various other individuals."

JPUSA is a nonprofit and has several businesses that support it, and while many of its members work in those businesses, they are not considered employees and are not paid wages. All income goes into a common pool for living expenses. Members who have personal needs submit a request for cash. There is no health insurance or pensions; members use public health facilities at Cook County Hospital.

Sacred or Distinguishing Text:

The Bible.

Notable Jesus People USA Ministers and Members:

Resurrection Band (aka Rez Band, Rez), GKB (Glenn Kaiser Band).

Jesus People USA Beliefs and Practices:

As an Evangelical Covenant Church, Jesus People USA affirms the Bible as the rule for faith, conduct, and authority. The group believes in the New Birth, but says it is only the beginning on the path to maturity in Jesus Christ, a lifelong process. JPUSA conducts evangelism and missionary work within the community. It also professes the priesthood of all believers, meaning all members share in the ministry. However, the church does ordain pastors, including women. JPUSA stresses dependence on the leading of the Holy Spirit, both in individuals and the church.

Evangelical Covenant churches practice two sacraments: baptism and the Lord's Supper. Both infants and believers may be baptized.

To learn more about JPUSA beliefs, visit Jesus People USA Beliefs and Practices.

(Sources: jpusa.org and covchurch.org)

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