The parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10: 25-37, tells the story of a wounded man and another man that came to his aid.
A man was mugged and left badly beaten in the street. A priest and a Levite both passed by him and continued along their paths. A Samaritan stopped unsolicited and assisted the man in dire need of assistance. He dressed the stranger’s wounds and paid for him to rest at an inn.
Bearing this story and the implied lesson to help those in need in mind, the men of the Tavern came to name their house.
It all started with five freshman in Ashby Hall. They joined InterVarsity together and were searching for a house to live in their sophomore year. They stumbled into an opportunity when they called the landlord of what is now The Tavern.
The landlord was wary of renting the house to college students. He previously resided in the house and had spent time and fiscal resources to refurbish it. He used the finished basement to hold bible studies and preach to fellow believers.
When the young men of Ashby discussed their devout beliefs and plans to use the house to be Good Samaritans, the landlord decided to make an exception.
Eric Kennedy, Taylor Bess, Justin Graves, Josh Lowe and Shadi Sabbagh moved from Ashby Hall to the Tavern the following year. They were joined by fellow IV members Ryan Larson, David Halstead and Azzie Greene.
The name was derived from the openness and sense of hospitality the housemates wanted to emit. The Good Samaritan comforted the distraught man in a tavern. Revolution leaders planned the freedom of America in taverns. The IV men wanted to exemplify these thoughts and make their mark emanating kindness and acceptance of others. The elaborate bar in the basement more directly associated the “The Tavern” with the biblical and historical context of the name.
Every named house needs a quality sign to complement it. The sign is simple, yet intricate. It is made of a beautiful piece of wood. This sign was crafted the year the Ashby crew moved into the Tavern by Eric and Ryan’s late grandfather. He carved the masterpiece in his wood shop and his immaculate sign shows he’ll always be by their side. His guidance helped shape Eric and Ryan into the men they are now and they perpetuate his legacy by embracing the accepting culture of the Tavern.
The selflessness of the Tavern is evident in the story of Port Harbour. Port Harbour is an indie rock band founded in Harrisonburg, specifically in the basement of the Tavern. Taylor Bess and Justin Graves are both members of the band, and needed a place to practice. The rest of the housemates allowed them to start playing before they had a name. Most people feel that a band practicing in their basement every Tuesday night could be a distraction. The Tavern housemates were able to get past that minor disturbance. Port Harbour utilized the graciously provided basement to refine their skills each week.
The loud Tuesday nights paid off for Port Harbour as well as the Tavern. Port Harbour now performs across the Mid-Atlantic region. Their new album, Wake, is now available on iTunes and Spotify. The band has come a long way since their humble beginnings, partly due to the generosity of the Tavern. The housemates contributed to the growth and success of a band, helping Port Harbour go from basement band to live on stage and in-store.
Bands aren’t the only groups that benefit from the Tavern’s basement. Many college students use their basements to throw parties; the Tavern takes a contrasting approach. Bible study sessions and youth groups populate the basement some nights of the week, carrying on the legacy of the landlord and implanting positive morales among kids and college students alike.
Flags decorate the basement of the Tavern, representing various countries the members of the Tavern have visited on their philanthropic mission trips. They traveled to New York, Central America, and South America to spread the compassionate culture they are piloting in Harrisonburg throughout the world.
Trips to the Dominican Republic and Haiti spread the word through construction in towns that desperately needed new infrastructure. Music and educational camps communicated the Gospel to children in Peru and Guatemala. A trip to New York focused on helping homeless people in our own country. The group also joined other JMU Students Helping Honduras as they built schools to change lives.
The housemates of the Tavern epitomize the parable of the Good Samaritan. They take in individuals in need and foster the growth and personal development of others. This type of compassion seems to get lost in the chaotic shuffle of life, but the Tavern manages to persevere in bettering the lives of others each day.
Next year, The Tavern will be passed down to other InterVaristy members. They will continue the Good Samaritan legacy, passing on the same loving values as their predecessors.