After graduation, most students leave Marion, Ind., but one Indiana Wesleyan University graduate wants to establish an intentional living community within the Marion city limits to be inhabited by IWU grads for years to come.
Emily Hathway (alumna ‘11) graduated in December with a degree in nursing and membership in the John Wesley Honors College. Through her experiences in the honors college, Hathway said she developed interest in intentionality through community.
“The honors college has always talked about this belief that we are formed by our habits and practices in our lives into a certain type of person,” Hathway said, “and that we aren’t just brains on a stick, but we are embodied people who don’t just learn through sitting in a classroom and hearing things, but we also learn through doing and experiencing.”
Last semester, Hathway began attending Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Marion. She said, in September, the church offered her a house to use as an intentional Christian community. Years ago the house stood as a furniture store. Now, it’s called “The Incarnation House.”
“We want to embody the life of Christ,” Hathway said. “We want to live in the midst of this Marion community and do life with people there.”
Hathway said she wants members of The Incarnation House to cultivate stability in the neighborhood. The residents of the house will commit to two years of living together, and Hathway said she hopes long-term relationships form with those living in the surrounding neighborhood. But being better neighbors isn’t the only growth that Hathway wants to see.
“We’re not just going to be outreach-focused because that’s not helpful if the internal community isn’t healthy,” Hathway said. “We believe that, as the internal community is healthy, it will overflow into the neighborhood.”
This idea for creating an intentional community didn’t occur to Hathway overnight. After visiting The Simple Way in Philadelphia, Pa., her freshman year, Hathway visited communities in Georgia, Ohio and Kentucky. Eventually, Hathway completed her senior honors research project on intentional community.
Aaron Morrison (sr) decided to conduct his senior project this school year on human capital retention in Grant County, or how many students stay in the county after graduation at both IWU and Taylor University, Morrison said although his data are not yet conclusive, he has noticed a pattern.
“More people that graduated from [IWU and Taylor] leave than stay,” Morrison said, stating job availability as a main factor of lower graduate retention.
Morrison also said this intentional community is the first he has seen for graduates in Grant County, according to the data he has compiled from the mid-1990s through 2010.
Hathway said The Incarnation House will hopefully house five or six men and women from IWU and TU. In order to be considered, a person needs to find employment in Marion, or at least volunteer in the community. The person also needs to commit for two years and engage in agreed-upon community habits and practices.
The applications are due April 13, with interviews the following week and a final decision on April 25, just before IWU’s graduation. Hathway said members should start moving in during May.
“I think whoever comes, we want to honor the gifts that they bring, for sure,” Hathway said. “We are looking for someone who wants to be committed to living and loving in this way.”