By the end of the 1970s the practical and spiritual desirability of having a congregational identity distinct from Reba Place Fellowship led to the formation of Reba Place Church. After extensive discussion, the leaders brought forth the “Rochelle” proposals (named after a place of retreat) for forming noncommunal ways for persons to be at Reba. These were approved, and several leadership couples left RPF to spearhead the formation of the new “congregational” small groups and clusters in 1981.
The strong establishment of Reba Place Church was a notable new development in Reba’s history. By the early 1990s Reba as a whole had become a large and vigorous congregation with about 25 small groups and about 300 members. More were non-communal than were communal. But the absence of persons of color, except as visible exceptions, was conspicuous in this large white congregation meeting in an interracial neighborhood. Reba’s problems dealing with diversity were visible in the lack of a common intake and formation process, the drift from a united common life within common expectations, and the simple reality of size.