By Kimberly Hunter
Editor’s note: Some current PeaceWorks Board members are assisting in the creation of a house of hospitality; its cofounder shares these reflections.
Twelve years ago I walked into the Gainesville (FL) Catholic Worker House at 5 a.m. on a Friday to boil farm-fresh eggs and bake cinnamon bread for folks standing in line at three day labor pools. These early morning experiences slowly redirected my faith journey toward Jesus’s simple way of loving neighbors—even if it upsets the empire.
Since reconnecting with my Mennonite roots at Emmanuel Mennonite Church in Gainesville in 2009 and exploring life at Cherith Brook Catholic Worker (Kansas City, MO) in 2016, I have dreamed of settling down into the sacred work of radical hospitality here at home. Now that dream is becoming a reality.
Together with Terry “Tiny House” Rouse, with Charles Carney and Donna Constantineau (both PeaceWorks KC members), and with other friends, we are co-founding a Mennonite Catholic Worker in Kansas City, KS. It will be committed to watershed discipleship, restorative justice, and other anti-racist reparations in the form of affordable housing for our BIPOC (Black, indigenous, and other persons of color) neighbors and other local activists organizing for just peace. Because we pledge to give the land and/or her proceeds back to our indigenous neighbors who cared for it, we are naming it for the resilient Wyandotte County and Wyandotte Nation heroine Eliza B. Conley.
The vision of the house: We care for the Earth, ourselves, and our neighbors in a small, sustainable community that transforms oppressive domination into mutual liberation. The house’s mission: We grow a healthy home by sharing labor and power, knowing our histories, partnering with Creation, and practicing hospitality, response-ability, and place-based peacemaking. Priority will go to local women activists working for systemic social justice in Wyandotte County and providing reparations to women of color in the form of rest and rent relief.
Between 2016 and 2019, we tended this house at 2303 So. Early St. (KC KS) and a nearby community garden and orchard while connecting with our Rosedale neighbors in practical, Earth-friendly ways. Now the house is fully furnished for hospitality and we are ready to grow perennial roots to nourish the next generation.
For more information on the Eliza B. Conley House of Resilience, a Mennonite Catholic Worker, or to donate, go to:
Fundraiser by Kimberly Hunter : Down Payment: Eliza B. Conley House of Resilience (gofundme.com)
—Kimberly Hunter resides as a guest in the lands of the Kanza and Wyandotte nations where she teaches middle school; gardens; cares for the Kansas and Missouri rivers; and organizes for healing, freedom, and justice for the Poor People’s Campaign, Justice for Wyandotte, and other local activists. Her parents, Willie and Kathy, raised her to follow Jesus, who led her first to the Catholic Worker and then to Mennonite peacemaking. Nowadays, she often reflects on the words of Dorothy Day, a founder of the Catholic Worker movement: “The older I get, the more I meet people, the more convinced I am that we must only work on ourselves to grow in grace. The only thing we can do about people is to love them.”