Following a tour as an Army Chaplain in Europe during World War II, Gordon Cosby returned to the US and founded the Church of the Saviour (CoS) in Washington, DC with his wife Mary and a small group of like minded individuals as an independent church with a strong emphasis on commitment to spiritual growth (the inner journey) and mission (the outer journey). Elizabeth O’Connor describes this experience in her book "Call to Commitment," which is available from Faith at Work.
As many churches adopted small groups for Bible study and fellowship during the 1970s, CoS asked for more commitment and required every member to be in a mission group. Rather than grow larger and more centralized, Gordon’s vision was to stay small and poor, so in 1976, six little churches formed around housing (Jubilee), children (Seekers), hospitality (Potters House), polyculturalism (Eighth Day), public policy (Dunamis) and retreat (Dayspring ). Although Gordon continued to preach at the ecumenical service where many visitors came, membership in CoS meant joining one of the little churches. In the last 20 years, Dunamis ended and 5 more churches were born out of a call to new missions: New Community (renewing the neighborhood at 16th and S), Christ House (healthcare for the homeless), Lazarus House (post-AA recovery), Festival Church (Servant Leadership School) and Church of the Servant Jesus.
Each little church developed a distinctive style of worship, preparation for membership and mission. The level of commitment and emphasis on the inward/outward journey is still a common thread. Seekers, was seen as the "children’s church," with a strong program for youth and a congregation of adults involved in many forms of child advocacy here and abroad. Worship is designed and led by a mission group and preaching is done by different people. Leadership and initiative is based on call and gifts rather than credentials and job descriptions. Although we value seminary education as we value other graduate training among our members, no single person is in charge. Those called to Stewardship make a public commitment every year to care for the spiritual life of the whole body.
Seekers Church began worshipping as a separate faith community within the Church of the Saviour in 1976. In 1995, Seekers Church became an independent church, separately incorporated in the District of Columbia, as part of the major restructuring of the Church of the Saviour in which each of the original sister communities became completely independent.
Seekers organization is largely based on our CoS roots. Organizationally, we are led by a self-selected group just over 20 Seekers we call "Stewards," who are responsible for the health of the community. These are "Members" in CoS parlance, however Seekers uses the term "Member" is a broader context than CoS did. Becoming a Steward takes at least two years — taking four courses in the Seekers School of Christian Living, a lay "seminary" where we teach each other about the Scriptures, practices for spiritual growth, Christian doctrine and opportunities for mission and living in response to God’s call; participating in a mission group; working with a sponsor to clarify individual spiritual practices; writing a spiritual autobiography; and raising financial support to at least ten percent of income.
Each Steward belongs to one of our mission groups , and serves within the structure of that group to provide support for individuals in the group and for the mission of the group. In addition, each Steward maintains deeper contact with two members of the community who have not made the commitment to become a Steward. We ordain each Steward to this ministry to the community and to the wider world, and we have authorized several Stewards to obtain legal licensure to perform weddings.
Three Stewards who have responded to a call to overall coordination and support for the community provide coordination and support for Seekers. We compensate these three for part-time staff work.