Archbishop Justin hosts major gathering of Anglican Religious Communities
Friday 28th March 2014The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby today welcomed over 100 members of a broad range of Anglican religious communities to Lambeth Palace to discuss the renewal of Religious Life within the Church.
The conference brought together members of diverse religious communities – some centuries old, others newly emerging – that are bound together by a common commitment to prayer, community living, and a radical service of Christ, often in demanding social contexts.
The event marked a significant early step towards Archbishop Justin’s vision for the renewal of prayer and the Religious Life, which he has declared as a core priority for his ministry. The Archbishop gave a keynote address setting out his vision to explain and encourage those gathered.
The conference, ‘Religious Life and Renewal: Exploring Roots and Shoots’, had three aims: to give members of religious communities around the country an opportunity to interact with Archbishop Justin’s vision for the renewal of Religious Life; to receive affirmation and build vision together; and to seek to reinvigorate and reimagine connections between religious communities and the church’s structures.
It followed the Archbishop welcoming four members of the international ecumenical community Chemin Neuf to live at Lambeth Palace in February. The community members support the daily life of prayer at Lambeth Palace, ensuring the Archbishop’s work is grounded in prayer, and praying especially for the unity of the Church.
Speaking before the conference, Archbishop Justin said: “I am thrilled that people from communities in all corners of our country are gathering to talk and listen - and be inspired by the Spirit of God. Some of them may not look like conventional monks or nuns – but all of them are people I admire very deeply. They are those who have committed themselves to Jesus in radical and costly ways – without whom our church would be diminished both in depth and breath.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Chaplain, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said: “Future generations may look back and say, ‘In those early decades of the 21st century, the Church blossomed thanks to the growth of religious communities.’ They are bubbling up in surprising places, occasionally despite rather than because of our church, and Archbishop Justin is keen to ensure that they are celebrated and encouraged.
“I see them as a very modern icon for something most of us long for – for spirituality which is embodied and earthed; for integrity which is transparent and focused; for relationships which are deep and inclusive, often engaged with those in our society in deep poverty and need.”
The Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, who chairs the Advisory Council on the Relations between Bishops and Religious Communities, said: “It is hugely moving to see passion and wisdom being shared between newly emerging religious orders and those that grew up in the Church of England in the last two centuries. Both are living the Christian life in a deep discipline of prayer and community-belonging, a discipline that for many provides the energy and inspiration both for radical living and for mission and ministry in the most demanding contexts.”
The phrase ‘the Religious Life’ refers to the shared life of religious communities which are devoted to simple lives of work, study and prayer and live by a shared ‘rule’ which helps members to support one another to each new depths of love and obedience in their lives of faith.
Read more about the Archbishop Justin’s commitment to a renewal of prayer and the Religious Life within the Church: http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/pages/roles-and-priorities.html
Archbishop Justin’s keynote address will be available to read on www.archbishopofcanterbury.org next week