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What is JPUSA?

Jesus People USA is a Christian community of about 450 people, located in a poor neighborhood in Chicago called Uptown. JPUSA is a fully communal ministry. Its members share a common purse, receiving much of their income from businesses owned and operated by the community. It is also a unique congregation within the Evangelical Covenant Church

I lived and worked at Jesus People USA for 24 years, leaving in the summer of 2000 to pursue advanced biblical training at North Park Theological Seminary. I still support the ministry of JPUSA and the people who run it, and I appreciate the positive input they have had in my life, career, and personal development. I am currently an active member of Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago.

As a former member of JPUSA with many years of experience in membership and leadership, I'd like to share a bit of what I learned while living there. Community life offers those within it the opportunity to involve themselves in each other's lives (and traumas!) to an extremely close degree not ordinarily available in noncommunal life. The strength of living in community is the opportunity to grow in relationship with others, receiving and giving in a hundred different ways: relationships, work, education, spiritual strength, recreation, emotional support, financial resources and much more. At the same time, this very intertwining of relationships tests one's own strength of forgiveness, transparency, and servanthood.

Living in community, I learned firsthand how love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). The friendships I made there will last a lifetime, even though I know that all of us have weak or unlovely areas at times, myself first on the list. In community, I learned that we reveal the love of Christ (in ourselves, to others) through demonstrating acts of unrewarded kindness to others, especially to those who cannot repay us. Mercy triumphs over judgment (James 2:13).

If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to write me .

Some links to JPUSA-owned and operated sites

  • Jesus People USA - the community I served with for 24 years. Met my wife there, raised our kids there, and had a tremendous opportunity to witness, to serve Jesus Christ and grow closer to the Lord.
  • Cornerstone magazine - the literary voice of the Jesus Movement. Originally a newspaper from 1973-1979, Cornerstone is now a magazine published 2 or 3 times a year, available by subscription only. The C-stone website is produced by Jon Trott, who is the editor in chief and also a Linux devhead.
  • Cornerstone Festival - meet 20,000 radical Christians, hear great music and speakers for four days each 4th of July holiday.
  • Cornerstone Press Chicago - the book-publishing division of Jesus People USA. A small press with a small publishing budget, so they focus on publishing quality writing and literature.
  • Grrr Records - handles most (but not all) of the records, bands, and artists that come out of the JPUSA community.
  • Ask Wendi - Q&A on dating and relationships by Wendi Kaiser. Pretty sound advice, if you ask me.
  • www.HighRomance.com - Jon Trott's excursus into romance and sexuality within Christian marriage. Now the trick is to talk about Christian sexuality in such a way that it doesn't trigger the pörn-blocking software!
  • www.flickerings.com - the film showcase department of Cornerstone Festival. Cool graphics and layout, thoughtful analysis of film and video culture. This is another little-known JPUSA offering that shows some of the artistic vision and brilliance of its members, Mike Hertenstein in particular.
  • Imaginarium - probably Mike H's main hangout, this is where you go to see the current film criticism ("Flickerings" is for movies at the Fest ... er, sort of). Wanna read the real Harry Potter review, the ones too long and too recent to publish in Cornerstone magazine? Go here. Don't expect a parent's guide like Screen It , but you can expect thoughtful analysis.
  • Cornerstone Community Outreach - CCO to the rest of us, it's a shelter for homeless women and children, located at 4626 N. Clifton Ave. in Chicago. They also provide a hot meal a few times a week to a few hundred homeless, and a warming shelter for women during the cold seasons.
  • www.youthmissions.net - promotes mission trips for youth groups wishing to become involved in urban outreach, via Jesus People USA.
  • Brothas and Sistas United - an outreach ministry to kids in the Uptown neighborhood, generally ages 10 to 17, who are provided with tutoring, recreation, mentoring, and a safe place to hang out after school and on the weekends. Always in need of volunteers who are reliable and have a burden to work with the kids.
  • Music ministries
    This section is really getting longer than I thought at first, so rather than repeat things you can read in the advertising, I'll just list the links in short format. If I've missed anybody accidentally, lemme know.
  • Lakefront Roofing - where does all the money come from to pay for it all? Mainly from here, and from
  • Creative Wood Design - here. High quality cabinetry, bookshelves, hutches, credenzas, and assorted wood pieces. Nice stuff.
  • Belly Acres - they print custom-designed T-shirts and do a really good job of it.
  • Friendly Towers - the JPUSA business which provides housing for senior citizens. Some of my best friends worked here.

Some links to sites about JPUSA

  • John Bozeman's masters thesis on JPUSA ("Jesus People USA: An Examination of an Urban, Communitarian Religious Group"). Careful, this one is 290K in size, so it will take a while to download.
  • Rick Ross's collection of anti-JPUSA rhetoric. I've corresponded with him, interviewed him, and met him face-to-face. He is convinced he knows the "real truth" and has chosen not to present both sides of certain controversies. Other than that, I think he's a decent human being with a sincere desire to help other people.
  • Marty and Jesse Phillips wrote this response to two articles on Ross's site which were about them. Marty has tried corresponding with Rick, who does not inform his readers about Marty and Jesse's reply to his pages about them.
  • Rick Ross does provide the much-discussed Chicago Tribune article about JPUSA, which appeared April 1–2, 1991. You can't get the full text on the regular Chicago Tribune website without paying a fee (er, unless you're a university student somewhere. North Park students have prepaid access to several paid-subscription databases ).
  • Even if you lived in JPUSA for a period of time, you shouldn't read the Chicago Tribune article without also reading the official response from Tom Cameron, who points out that some of the Tribune's statements about JPUSA businesses being upheld by tax dollars aren't correct. There is also a page with a variety of other responses from Christianity Today, the Covenant Church, and a few others who remind us of other aspects of the JPUSA and ex-JPUSA situation.
  • For the time being, I am omitting other sites whose primary purpose seems to be criticism and general JPUSA-bashing. Though I know the people behind these pages as personal friends of many years, I cannot in good conscience promote this means of self-expression. There are limits to my own libertarian principle of full and impartial disclosure. (Yup, I admit that I have my own biases.)

Some links to pages by current members

Some links to pages of former members of Jesus People USA

Roughly alphabetical by last name...


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Last modified: April 10, 2008