Many Christians are finding that they desire a more monastic rhythm of life, regular appointments, if you like, throughout the day with God, worshipping, meditating on His Word, seeking for and listening to His heart more diligently and earnestly so that it is easier to stay anchored in faith than a more sporadic approach might offer.
There are many Communities available which support this lifestyle:
The Lee Abbey Movement
The Lee Abbey Movement is a nationwide organisation whose mission and calling from God is to share Christ through relationships, through practising community living, reaching out to others, and developing their own relationship with our loving Father. Lee Abbey in Devon is a Conference, Retreat and Holiday Centre in a stunning 280-acre coastal estate on Exmoor. It is run by an international Community of around 90 people of all ages and 20 nationalities who live and work there, offering hospitality, rest, activity and teaching to thousands of guests throughout the year. Being on the Community at Lee Abbey means experiencing a unique Jesus-centred community way of life. It means meeting many, many people from all over the world. It’s about living, serving and worshipping closely together. You can retreat and hide, but being at Lee Abbey involves sharing time and space, and being open to be known for who you really are. It’s challenging, but if you let it, it can also be life-changing! So often, God’s kingdom is seen at Lee Abbey. Words spoken that seem like they come direct from the Father’s heart. Acts of kindness and healing and forgiveness. In their hospitality to the guests, they learn to be generous, and the fruits of the Spirit grow.
The day begins with worship, prayer and reflection together in Community Prayers each morning. During the day, each person serves in a particular team: Kitchen, House, Estate, Youth & Children, Admin, Maintenance, Pastoral, Conference or The Beacon team up at the Youth & Outdoor Activity Centre. Every 2-3 months, most Community members will be taken from their usual team and given the honour of hosting the guests for a weekend or a week. The Host Team plan and deliver the guests’ programme and spend time with the guests, joining in their sessions, talks and activities. They take part in the sung worship, maybe lead a walk, plan an evening’s entertainment and use testimony, drama, dance, or anything else in their tool boxes. All the Community also pray for each guest by name. It is amazing to see God working and lives changing before your very eyes. In giving, we receive, and Host Team is a great chance to use your gifts for God’s glory.
Lee Abbey are looking for people with a personal faith in Christ and a desire to deepen that faith by surrendering more of their lives to Him. Being at Lee Abbey is a lot about giving of yourself, so you need to be prepared to do just that … both through serving guests and in relating to others on the Community. Fitness, health and energy are pretty essential too!
For more information visit www.LeeAbbey.org.uk/devon
The Northumbria Community
‘The renewal of the church will come from a new type of monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time men and women banded together to do this’Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in a letter to his brother
The Northumbria Community is a network of hugely diverse people, from different backgrounds, streams and edges of the Christian faith, united in a desire to embrace and express ongoing exploration into a new way for living Christianly – a way that offers hope in the changed and changing culture of today’s world. Inspired by, drawing from, and living in the spiritual tradition of monasticism, the Community is geographically dispersed and strongly ecumenical. They seek God as the ‘one thing necessary,’ blending ‘a prayer that is quiet and contemplative and a faith that is active and contagious’, lived out in the ordinariness of everyday life. For those whose hearts are set on pilgrimage and whose lives are constantly being redefined and redirected by living the questions, ‘Who is it that you seek? How then shall we live? How can we sing the Lord’s song in a strange land?’ the Northumbria community was established to provide companionship on that journey, and to outline a way of living centred in their Rule of Life of Availability and Vulnerability. The Rule, along with their Daily Office (Celtic Daily Prayer), reflects the influence of the monastic tradition in the development of Community ethos.
The ebb and flow of ‘the mixed life’ of both the contemplative and active, of monastery and mission, withdrawal and engagement, solitude and Community, together makes the Northumbria Community ethos. As a Community of the heart, all Companions (wherever they may be) are united on this inner journey of seeking God, knowing self, in order to learn how they can better live with others and serve the world of their influence whether it be great or small, ‘wherever the Father leads.’
Currently there are UK community groups in : Belfast, Birmingham, Bradford, Bristol & Bath, Cambridge, Cornwall, Cotswolds, Derbyshire, S Devon, East Yorkshire, Essex, Exeter, Forest of Dean, Kent, Leeds & York, Lower Wharfedale, The Marches, Newton Aycliffe, Norfolk, North Northumberland, North West England, Nottingham, Oxford, Sedbergh, South Manchester, South Wales, Southport, St Albans, Staffordshire, S London, Tyneside, West Lothian, Worcestershire and Yeovil. Outside Britain groups meet in France (Dordogne and Lower Normandy), Canada (Toronto), USA (Keene New England, Twin Cities Minneapolis).
If you’re interested in linking up with a Community Group, (wherever you might be in the world!) then the first step is to contact Norma Charlton.
For more information about the Northumbria Community visit www.northumbriacommunity.org
The Caleb Community is a scattered (dispersed) community of people who relate to the Way of Life at Ffald-y-Brenin, which acts as the Mother House. Rooted in the Word and blessed by the Fire of Celtic Christianity and early Monastic missionary movements, they seek to know, love and serve the King of kings and seek His kingdom before all other things.
Their purpose is to live out radical, kingdom-focused lives that respond to the invitation of Jesus to be With Him and be Sent (Mark 3:14). They want to press deeper into the heart of God and further out into the world as His co-workers, living counter-cultural lives from which prayer and worship pour upwards and love demonstrated by practical care pours outwards as part of their witness to the good news of Jesus.
Within the confines of Ffald-y-Brenin this is worked out through the centrality of their rhythm of daily prayer, their hospitality towards guests, their programme of events and their mission out into the nations.
Those who join the community adopt the Ffald-y-Brenin purpose and values. The way that they express this in their daily lives will be shaped by their personal situations, so they are invited, through the Affiliates Promise, to work these things out “as far as is possible”. In this way it is possible to explore and embrace the Way of Life in fellowship without making unsustainable promises.
For more information visit www.ffald-y-brenin.org/
The Iona Community is a dispersed Christian ecumenical community working for peace and social justice, rebuilding of community and the renewal of worship. They are an ecumenical Christian community of men and women from different walks of life and different traditions in the Church engaged together, and with people of goodwill across the world, in acting, reflecting and praying for justice, peace and the integrity of creation; convinced that the inclusive community they seek must be embodied in the community they practice.
Members share a common Rule which includes:
- Daily prayer and reading the Bible
- Mutual sharing and accountability for our use of time and money
- Regular meeting together
- Action and reflection for justice, peace and the integrity of creation
Members meet regularly throughout the year in local groups and in 4 plenary gatherings, including a week on Iona.
For more information visit iona.org.uk/
Cor et Lumen Christi (The Heart and Light of Christ)
The Holy Trinity is the author and origin of all Christian communities. God, who lives in an eternal Divine Communion of love and light, invites us all to become like Him and to share in His joy.
About a year after receiving the “Baptism in the Holy Spirit”, Damian Stayne, the community founder, felt a call from God to community. In response, during Lent of 1983, he left his job and traveled to Paris to visit some of the new communities which had been called into being in the “City of Light”. His time was divided between the Emmanuel Community, a huge, mostly non-residential, charismatic community with an emphasis on Adoration and Mission, and the Community of Jerusalem. This was a mixed monastic community whose emphasis was prayer, worship, beauty and simplicity. Both communities had a strong Eucharistic devotion. Damian was greatly affected by his time in Paris, and became profoundly convicted that God desired a marriage between these two expressions of love for Him; a community which could offer the depths of prayer and worship to be found in the monastic and contemplative vocation and yet be engaged in Mission and embrace the Charismatic Gifts. Then followed seven and a half years of prayer, fasting and searching. This finally bore fruit in October 1990 with the founding of Cor et Lumen Christi (The Heart and Light of Christ), with Diocesan and Papal blessing.
The community has married and single members, from a wide range of backgrounds. There are two expressions within the community: Community of Life – members who live together in the community house – and The Companions of the Heart – members who live out in their own homes.
The Community of Life live out the Rule and values of Cor et Lumen Christi in a residential way, sharing a common life of prayer centered around the Blessed Sacrament and praying the Divine Office of the church each day. They mostly work full-time for the community, serving its mission of prayer and apostolic outreach, providing a centre for prayer, worship, training and ministry, and sharing a common purse and table. They live on Providence, relying on donations for their life and mission.
The Companions of the Heart are members of the community who live out the Rule and values of Cor et Lumen Christi in the non-residential expression. They live in their own homes, which they may share with other members of the community. In choosing their own occupations, they serve the community’s mission to be a sign by their presence in the world and are committed to the community through a common life of prayer, ministry and fellowship, and attend the various meetings throughout the month.
For more information visit www.coretlumenchristi.org