What is the history of SPADE International?
by Howard McFarland, founder
SPADE was the fruit of my Doctor of Ministry thesis project, “A cross-cultural Ministry Workshop Informed by Third World Perspectives and the Gospel of the Kingdom,” viewing the gospel of the kingdom as encompassing four dimensions – evangelism, discipleship, Christian (church) community and social justice. In dealing with social justice issues, I suggested several confrontational and then positive ways of involvement. The final suggestion was to participate in the appropriate technology (AT) movement that grew out of BF Schumacher’s “Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered” (1979). This proved to be key motivation for the formation of SPADE.
During the decade of seminary studies, other exciting events took place. Three universities developed degrees in appropriate technology. A group of us began to meet and discuss ways of implementing AT projects in Philadelphia. Out of this emerged a team of faithful supporters, our first board of directors. SPADE (Serving People through Appropriate Development and the Evangel) was incorporated in 1987. After much prayer, a 7-acre plus 38-room hotel like facility was purchased. My wife Charlotte and I moved to Steinsville (Kempton) on the day of settlement: May 31, 1988.
Our AT (or sustainable development) goals have gradually diminished. We looked forward to having students from the three universities coming to SPADE to put into practice what they learned about AT in the classroom. In a few years those programs were dropped or greatly changed. The gas crisis was over. The AT wave receeded. Ironically, the “Pennsylvania Renewable Energy and Sustainable Living Festival” held in Kempton brings speakers and exhibitors presenting most of the projects we had hoped to do.
As an affordable retreat center for students and low income people we were successful. Scores of campus Christian groups as well as scores of international visitors have come for conferences and SPADE activities. We consider SPADE as a house of hospitality, a house of prayer and a house of hope. Actually the present directors of SPADE, Bill and Joan Rinehart, have named it the INN OF HOPE. Yes, SPADE is an inspiring country place to come for renewal and deepening of one’s relationship with Christ.
We reside in Allentown now, but we are still involved. We make one or two trips a week to Steinsville to work in the garden or participate in various activities.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stands guard in vain” Psalm127:2.
With our love,
Howard and Charlotte McFarland