The Lotus House grew out of the ACTS Campus Ministry, which brought together Christian students from several local universities. Several members of that group, mostly graduate students, had independently been reading about New Monastic movement. Four of those members – Candace and Alden Bass, Micah Bennett, and Daniel Gray – began meeting regularly in the autumn of 2008 to discuss the possibility of forming an intentional Christian community in North Saint Louis. The group chose North Saint Louis because two other members of the group, Catrina and Cody Dye, were already working in the Mark Twain neighborhood with the North City Church of Christ.
The purpose of the community was to be a faithful presence and a witness to God’s peace in a section of town known for violence and poverty. Over the course of several months, the group drafted a covenant which summarized its ideals and commitments. After a few months of house-hunting, an eight-bedroom house built in the 1890s and located on Lotus Avenue in the Kingsway East neighborhood was purchased. On December 13, 2008, the community moved in and began life together. In June of 2015 we purchased a second house on Lotus Avenue in order to have additional room to expand the community.
What We Do
The Lotus House is a community of disciples seeking to follow Jesus in inner-city Saint Louis. It is modeled on the Jerusalem Church described in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, the Benedictine monasteries, and the New Monastic communities. In an effort to share our lives more fully, we have committed to these regular practices:
- Daily prayer. The community gathers daily for morning and evening prayer (Psalm 55:17; Acts 2:42). We also worship together on Sundays at our local congregation.
- Meals. We eat together most nights at one of our two houses. On Friday nights we host a community dinner open to all, but especially to those in need (Luke 14:13). We try to prepare healthy, sustainable meals.
- Service. At least once a week, we serve together (John 13:1-15). Currently, we all work with an after-school program in the Mark Twain neighborhood through the North City Church of Christ.
- Economic sharing. We pool a portion of our income to pay for all necessities, including the mortgage, utilities, food, and house maintenance (Acts 4:32). We share our goods in common, and we seek to hold one another accountable for the purchases that we make.
For a fuller description of our practices, see the Rule of the Lotus House, which is based loosely on the monastic rules of the Augustinians, the Benedictines, and the Third-Order Franciscans.
Members of the Community
Alden Bass was one of the founders of the community, and has lived in the Lotus House since 2008. Alden grew up in Tennessee, and has been married to Candace since 2005. He’s currently holds a position on the theology faculty of Saint Louis University, where he teaches a variety of undergraduate theology courses.
Candace Bass has also been at the Lotus House from the beginning. Before moving to Saint Louis, she and Alden spent a year near Tegucigalpa, Honduras, working with a boys’ home. Now she teaches Spanish at local pre-school. Candace also directs the after-school program and summer program at North City Church of Christ.
In December of 2012, Alden and Candace adopted three siblings: Desiree, Destiny, and Dylan. Desiree is 13, Destiny is 12, and Dylan is 9. Needless to say, they’ve brought new life and a whole lot of new energy to the house!
Daniel Gray is one of the founding members of the Lotus House. A native son of California, but with bloodlines from the hills of TN, he is a social worker, with experience in homelessness and housing. He now manages a developmental disabilities research center. Daniel handles finances for North City Church of Christ and his hobbies include music (especially Sacred Harp singing) and cycling, though his time is now spent on maintenance of the second house.
James Lee joined the community in September of 2015. James is a Texas native who is now studying theology at Saint Louis University. He is ordained in the Lutheran Church (LCMS) and serves a church in Edwardsville and Worden, Illinois. He’s also an avid zymurgist.
Thirza Sayers and her poodle T-Rex joined the community in February 2013. She grew up on her family’s bison ranch in Potosi, Missouri, and now she and T-Rex devote much of their time to volunteering at local hospitals and schools doing humane education and pet therapy. Thirza is an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church USA.
Stephen Lawson moved into the Lotus House in July of 2013. He is currently working on a PhD in modern theology at Saint Louis University. Stephen grew up in a small town in eastern Kentucky. Before coming to Saint Louis Stephen lived in Joplin, Missouri and Johnson City, Tennessee (where he attended seminary).
After attending community dinners for nearly a year, Scott Nelson moved into the house in September of 2013. Scott grew up in nearby Festus, Missouri. He was recently awarded an Americorp position in East St. Louis, where he’ll be working with an after-school program. He worships with Pursuit Communities.