We are the Hebbard family. Steven is a farmer, teacher, and Anglican deacon (ACNA). Bethany is a writer, radical homemaker, and renegade PhD.
Steven Hebbard was born and raised in Bakersfield, California, but found a home in Austin, Texas in 2005. It was there that God called him to farm with the poor — a call that has produced fruit for the table and the church alike. Partnering with the Austin nonprofit Mobile Loaves & Fishes, Steven invited families from some of Austin’s most affluent neighborhoods to create gardens in their back yards. These families worked their gardens alongside the homeless men and women Mobile Loaves served. The homeless gardeners earned a dignified income for their work, and the food these gardens produced were given to men and women Mobile Loaves was working to lift off the streets. Eventually, this garden ministry grew into the onsite farm at Mobile Loaves’ Community First! Village, a revolutionary master-planned community for the chronically homeless in Austin.
Meanwhile, Bethany Bear had come to Texas in 2006 to pursue a PhD in English at Baylor University. After completing that degree in 2012, she took a position at a small Baptist college in south Alabama. Growing up with parents who were collegiate ministers, being a college professor was her dream, combining her love of literature with her passion for young adults. Bethany’s teaching was animated by the conviction that good stories train the imagination for courageous living, and that Christian education is incomplete without stories of the good, true, and beautiful. She bought a house, planted fruit trees, and expected to stay put for the next 70 years.
God, however, turned that plan inside out when he introduced Bethany to Steven in 2014. They discovered they shared a deep passion for radical homemaking as Kingdom work, and a deep longing to help create homes for the lost and lonely.
Married in 2015, they spent the first five years of their marriage as founding members of the missional community at Community First! Village. They both also served on staff at Community First!: having established the garden program, Steven created an onsite tiny-home bed-and-breakfast at the Village, and then became Mobile Loaves & Fishes’ first education director. Using milk from the Village’s farm goats, Bethany created a soap-making program that provided dignified incomes for residents at the Village. She also created and directed a residential apprenticeship program, offering young people a semester of intensive service and study at Community First!
For both Steven and Bethany, the treasure of life among the homeless was seeing the ways in which the elements of a strong home–real community, shared meals, members of all ages, meaningful work, profound rest–could allow ordinary people to build relationships with folks who might otherwise seem strange, risky, even frightening. They longed, however, to see this work of hospitality occur not just at Community First!, but especially in the congregations of God’s faithful. Since leaving the Village in 2019, their quest has been for a way to restore the church’s passion for radical homemaking and hospitality.
The Hebbards have two babies in heaven, and two active little ones earthside. Pearl is their quicksilver shield-maiden, and Caedmon a cheerful hobbit.