[Source: Northampton Chronicle & Echo Published: Monday, 20 May, 1974]
by Stewart Sorensen
A small group of Northampton young people are attempting to lead Christian lives — following to the letter instructions laid down 2,000 years ago by Jesus Christ.
They are practising "communism" on a small scale, living and sharing together in what they call extended families.
This concept of Christian sharing is the end product of a group of Baptists who worship together in Bugbrooke under the leadership of the Rev. Noel Stanton.
Starting out with only a few people, their numbers grew over the last few years and they began to look for a way to reinforce their faith.
Pat Austin (21), an electrical salesman, is in charge of a house on Harlestone Road where one of the extended families lives. "When you get a lot of people dedicated to each other you must have some way of keeping them together in their aims," he said.
"We sought the Lord on this and he revealed to us that the method was communal living."
Pat claims that this is in accordance with the practices of the early Christians and cites the Bible – Acts II, verse 44: "And all that believed were together, and had all things in common."
Pat, and his pregnant wife, Anne (19) act respectively as father and mother figures to their family of three youths, a young woman and her baby daughter. This makes a house-hold of seven people.
Anne describes herself: "I guess you could say I am a mother figure or house-mother."
Pat has the final say in all decisions affecting the household.
"You need people in authority if a communal house is to work successfully," he said. "We found the basic factor that is needed for all communal housing is love – the love of God.
"We found that those with the love and who live in it seem to accept authority and subjection. They go hand in hand."
The three youths in the house are in their late teens and Pat and his wife think of themselves as the adult figures in the family. They are also the legal tenants of the house, renting it from Jesus Fellowship Housing Association.
"We find that because of our faith in the Spirit the decisions I make are things that people have been thinking anyway," Pat said.
"This is communism that works… Equality for all which does work out because it is all based on love."
Pat thinks this is "ironic".
"When you talk about love people get embarrassed and think of it as being sexual," he said. Love is one of those words that people have a funny reaction to.
"But it is the most powerful weapon in the whole of the universe. Our love does not exclude sexual connotation," Pat said.
But then he emphasised that when people are living and loving under God there should be no time for sexual thoughts.
It is in this respect that Pat and Anne's commune differs from those that the "flower-child, hippie" movement spawned. Hippie communes had a tendency to founder on the problems caused by changing emotional and sexual entanglements among the participating couples.
"If a girl comes into the house and one of the boys is having lustful thoughts about her, we can tell and we mention it to him so that he can stop it," Pat said.
"This is a very pure house in that respect: we have very high moral standards and anyone not prepared to accept them would be asked to leave the house."
The most important, thing the "Jesus People" have in common is a shared religious experience. I asked them to describe, it to me.
"We get filled with the Holy presence. It’s a spirit comes into you and it is real. You feel peaceful and free."
Some of the young men in the house used drugs before getting "turned on" to Jesus Christ.
Pat himself tried nearly everything from marijuana to LSD. "I enjoyed the experience," he said. "But this is a much more satisfying way of life."
He no longer touches drugs.
Each person in the house pays a weekly sum for rent and food. "We are never short of anything," said Anne.
The kitchen proved to be too small so they are building an extension, borrowing the money from the Chapel's common fund.
Each evening the young people sit around the living room, reading the Bible and reinforcing each other's faith. "'We find living together encourages us in our faith," Pat said. "This is a happy house. But the presence that gets things done is the Holy Spirit, driving us all on."
These young people are not ashamed of their faith in Jesus Christ, Their cars and vans are festooned with “Jesus" stickers and their faded jeans have embroidered badges on them.
"Wise Men Still Seek Him" and “Our God Is Not Dead" say the badges.
Mr. Stanton is the man responsible for the emergence of these religiously oriented young people as a cohesive group.
"We have three communal houses in Northampton and one in Bugbrooke at present," he said. "They are all what we call extended families and are really charitable in their object.
"We are looking after people and this is very helpful. A lot of people involved are those who come from difficult or deprived home conditions,"
"Living together in this way makes these people become stronger Christians. Such people themselves become trained in the faith and can be helpful to others who may come to them."
Mr. Stanton refers to the four extended family homes as "Jesus Welcome Houses”.
"We hope they will become places where a team of dedicated people can offer accommodation to others who are in need of some sort or other!"