Jesus People USA

Jesus People USA (JPUSA) is a Christian intentional community in Uptown, on the North Side of Chicago, Illinois. It was founded in 1972 , came out of the Jesus Movement, and is one of the few remaining communes from that movement. In 1989, JPUSA joined the Evangelical Covenant Church as a member congregation, and currently has eight pastors credentialed with the ECC. The community organizes the annual Cornerstone Festival


Cornerstone magazine and the Christian rock band the Rez Band are part of the JPUSA community. In recent years, Rez disbanded, but Glenn Kaiser continues touring and playing both solo and with the blues-based GKB (Glenn Kaiser Band). JPUSA also has its own recording company, Grrr Records JPUSA was once the home of singer/songwriter Daniel Smith.

JPUSA runs an extensive program for Chicago-area homeless women and children, Cornerstone Community Outreach Some of the ministries involved with CCO are Sylvia Center (interim housing for families), Naomi's Place (an overnight women's drop-in shelter), and Brothas & Sistas United (an alternative youth program). A more complete list of CCO programs is here


Enroth Controversy

In 1993, JPUSA elders learned that Dr. Ronald Enroth's was researching a sequel to his book Churches That Abuse, which was said to mention issues of abuse within JPUSA. Despite efforts of elders to convince Enroth to edit JPUSA out of the book, in 1994 it was released and included a full chapter of accounts of alleged abuse within the group. The release of the book set off a "firestorm of debate among religious scholars." JPUSA elders referred to the book as "poison in the well," Ruth Tucker, a professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School defended the movement saying Enroth was "sadly misdirected and his research methods seriously flawed," while Paul R. Martin, the director of Wellspring Retreat and Resource Center, one of the few residential treatment centers in the world for former members of "abusive groups," supported Enroth's findings, saying that his facility had seen a flood of requests for help from former members and that JPUSA "displays virtually every sign that I watch for in overly authoritarian and totalistic groups." Ronald Enroth himself responded to JPUSA in the book, in part, with:
"There has been much correspondence between leaders of the Covenant Church and JPUSA and me since I began to do the research for this book. They have questioned the integrity of my reports, the reliability of my respondents, and my sociological methodology, but I have conducted more than seventy hours of in-depth interviews and telephone conversations with more than forty former members of JPUSA. They have also largely discounted the reports of abusive conditions past and present in the JPUSA community. ... Unwilling to admit serious deficiencies and insensitivity in their pastoral style, the leaders of JPUSA have instead sought to discredit the former members who have cooperated with my research efforts.
As a result of the book's mention of JPUSA, according to a later newspaper article, "scores" of members decided to leave the group.

Chicago Tribune criticism

In 2001, the Chicago Tribune published a two-part article primarily critical of the movement, with quotes from several ex-members accusing the group of authoritarian practices. One of the JPUSA activities criticized in the article includes "adult spankings," in which a system of corporal punishment was employed as punishment for adult members of the group. The practice was eventually abandoned by the group, with leaders citing the practice as reflective of how "spiritually immature" the group was at the time.

JPUSA issued a response to the two-part article, found on their website, which accuses the article of "anti-religious bias and cultural intolerance."


  • Young, Shawn David, M.A., Hippies, Jesus Freaks, and Music (Ann Arbor: Xanedu/Copley Original Works, 2005). ISBN 1-59399-201-7


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