A Upadarian Estate is essentially a local “mission” and a refugee center which also includes some co-housing for members, a market for members and the public, and transitional housing for refugees of all types. The crux of the concept of our “nation of people” is a missionary lifestyle that revolves around these actual Estates, which act as the “commons” for an extended multi-family “household”. So what would life be like for people who live in a cottage within such an Estate?
The Estate is a mission and refugee center. That is its outward-facing focus. The word Estate as we will use it refers to the actual land and structures, the local chapter, consisting of the members (Peers) organized as an extended household is called a Shirehold. A Shirehold may not have an Estate right away, it may meet in people’s homes, rent a hall from time to time, or have a Common House, but, eventually, the goal of a Shirehold is to build an Estate.
Picture a hamlet with 20 or so cottages clustered around a ministry center, a common house of small community center, a market with a few shops and a weekly flea market (or swap meet), and, a small apartment building with 10 units that act as transitional housing for people in need. The hamlet is not isolated: it is right smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood. It is easily accessible to the public around it, but in a controlled way that prevents crime. For instance, the Estate I am envisioning has wall with four points of entry that are usually open and only close at night.
The style of this Estate is Roman. It is actually a local attraction and people come to occassional events put on by the Estate depicting life in the Roman Empire during the 1st century. Local officials see the Estate as a local assett that helps the economy. (With this in mind, each Estate will pick a “theme” and re-enact it as a socio-cultural activity and attraction that will help raise money for its ministry.)
The Shirehold owns the buildings on the Estate and governs activity there, but the land belongs to a Society run Land Trust which combines the goals of meeting the needs of members, providing ministry to others, and promoting a sustainable lifestyle together as the required uses of that land. Within the Estate the Resident Peers form an Intentional Cohousing Community that collectively leases the cohousing units and any common facilities needed for Residents. This intentional cohousing community is explicitly restricted to Society members in good standing and residency is conditioned on remaining in good standing and passing background checks.
What is the advantage of living on an Estate?
First, for those who desire a safe haven, a sanctuary, in a place where godly standards and value prevail, such a lifestyle has great appeal.
Second, thus co-housing will provide quality, and yet inexpensive, housing to save serious money. The idea here is to provide uncommon shared facilities such as a a theater, a small library, recreation facilities, a sauna, and a gym generally only accessible to millionaires while paying less than the average cost of renting or leasing a decent house or condo in that area.
Third, living on the Estate makes it easier and more convenient to participate in ministry activities, such as Gospel outreaches or sponsoring a refugee family who live in transitional housing on site. The idea here is that people aren’t moving here to withdraw from the world: yes, they want a place of sanctuary, but they also want to serve and have a heart for the lost, for missions work, and for refugees.
People who live on an Estate will continue to work in the community, though they might have a shop in the market. They will continue to be connected to their blood kin, in fact serving your family is a value we embrace. They will go to the church or fellowship of their choice; neither these Estates nor our Society replace congregational fellowship and local churches.
Both resident and non-resident members would participate in group activities of their choice such as a community greenhouse, a grocery buying club, a health care assurance cooperative, and the such. These fraternal, social, economic, and co-housing benefits will reduce people’s expenses and save them time, this equipping and empowering them to serve. A portion of the money saved will be used to support our ministry activities.
Social activities for members will include common meals, athletic activities (generally forming teams that compete in local sports leagues), movie nights, and cultural activities such as described. But these activities are “available”, not “required.” More social members will be more involved, less social members will have less
involvement. These activities revolve around the Common House which has the same legal status as a “lodge”.
Ministry activities are important and unify our members. They would include helping refugees either as sponsors or donating time, going on Gospel outreaches, or providing an after-school program in the ministry center for local kids, among other things. Giving local ministries and churches access to the ministry center and the chapel for their use is also a ministry. While nobody would be required to do “x” amount of hours of ministry, it should be noted that our Society is devoted to these things and serves Christians who are devoted to these things.
Governance is important, it establishes common goals, standards, and practices for everyone to follow. We want to avoid legalism without going to an extreme of indulgence. We want to avoid personality-driven leadership and we definitely want to avoid having too much authority in too few hands. So everyone is equal and is accountable to all the standards and norms. Everyone is accountable for their actions, character, and agreed-upon commitments. When gathered in “Court” to make governing decisions the goal is for the Peers to discover and discern a consensus as to God’s will and His mind on the matter and that consensus, within the framework of Society standards, is the chief governing authority, NOT some “anointed” and unaccountable “leader” who claims to represent God!
Like most all fraternal societies, our Society is essentially democratic and egalitarian. True, we use titles and symbols of nobility and even select leaders who assume such titles, but this represents our conviction that, as Christians, we are “a Kingdom of kings and priests unto the Lord”, we are ALL “royals” and “nobility”, and while that gives us boldness as joint-heirs with Christ it also bears responsibility to act in a most noble manner. So we recognize noble standing by merit, affirmed by our Peers, as the chief qualification for participation in governance and for selection in functional leadership roles.
In short, this means that YOU will be expected to be an active and engaged participant in seeking God’s “approved wisdom” for your Shirehold and its Estate, and that in consensual decision-making with your Peers. We are ALL “the Lord’s anointed” and nobody stands above or apart from their Peers. A difference in Noble Standing By Merit reflects how far along the Path (or “course”) of Honor you have traveled, it does not mean you are “below” others who have advanced further along that path. At the Shirehold level there is no executive board or steering committee, every Peers participates fully in governance and is expected to know the issues and wisdom related to decisions that must be made.
Daily life in an Estate would be different than your life in a Western/American isolated nuclear family. But what is involved a shift of time and resources. You still shop for food, but you do it through a buying club and save money and time. You will go “out” for entertainment, but you do so often (but not always) at a Common House: for instance, movies would shown and a social quarters would offer dining options. You would still go to a gym, only this would be the gym in the Estate (if you so desired).
Other activities would include a monthly sacred gathering for worship and devotion, hearing special speakers, and a daily “Salutato” in the morning which you can avail yourself of to deal with business, meet leaders, pray in a prayer room, or fellowship over a light breakfast with other Peers. Some members who prefer an alternative form of fellowship outside of the traditional church might use the chapel or a room in the ministry center for their gatherings (which could include non-members as this fellowship group would be independent of the Society).
There are many other questions which have not been answered in this brief description. Keep coming here as we will be getting into more and more detail as we proceed with adding to The Blue Book of Upadaria.