All photography provided by Marc Gascoigne
A New Monastic Community in North Peckham
Dietrich Bonhoeffer the famous German Lutheran Christian Minister created the phrase when he helped to develop radical forms of Christian Community that wanted to live a life of prayerful action based on Christ's teachings in the Gospels with an attention to social, economic and ecological justice. In a letter to his brother before he was shot in detention nearly at the end of the Second World War by the Nazis he said this:
The renewal of the Church will come from a new type of monasticism which has only in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the sermon on the mount. It’s high time women and men banded together to do this.
Further, in the Anglican Church, and in particular the Oxford Movement of the 19th Century, there has always been a monastic spirituality within anglicanism. When the original monastic houses were closed in England under the authority of Henry VIII, there was always a vision of the local church with daily morning and evening prayer, eucharist and compline.
In recent times there has been a hunger for a new monasticism that seeks to draw on a sense of Benedictine stability and hospitality, Franciscan mission and Ignatian spirituality.
Westcott, a former Church of England Bishop, said this in 1884:
And thus, nothing from old times will meet our exigencies. We want a rule which shall answer to the complexity of our own age. We want a discipline which shall combine the sovereignty of soul of Antony, the social devotion of Benedict, the humble love of Francis, the matchless energy of the Jesuits, with faith that fears no trial, with hope that fears no darkness, with truth that fears no light.
1. So what are we doing?
We are using the Clergy House owned by the Diocese to accommodate two of the community along with the Priest who plays a part in the Wellspring Community.
2. New Monastic Gathering Tuesdays
Most Tuesdays of the year, we gather for Evening Prayer in the Church at 7.30pm, and then gather in the house for 8pm for food and dialogue. This is open to anyone who wants to get involved in our nascent community to help explore and discern what God is calling us to be.
3. Commitment to Contemplative Prayer Mon to Thurs
Currently some of the Community gather for prayer at St Luke's Church Monday to Thursday for 30 minutes prayer inspired by a combination of Anglican Benedictine, Franciscan and Ignatian prayer forms. We hope to get these made up into a book form soon. Daily prayer happens at:
Mondays 7.30am, Tuesdays 7.30pm, Wednesdays 7.30am and Thursdays 7.30pm.
4. Contemplative Sunday Evening Worship
Most Sundays there is a commitment to a form of contemplative worship in a cycle of:
1st Sunday - Contemplative Service
2nd Sunday - Contemplative Eucharist
3rd Sunday - Sung Compline
4th Sunday - Taize Chant Service
5th Sundays - Alternative or Labyrinth Service
5. Further to be explored
We are currently exploring what our mission life could be. We are hoping that community action in the North Peckham Estate will be part of this. We will be committing to our evolving Rhythm of Life and our seasonal vows in May 2017. A few of us including Ian Mobsby our Priest has been involved in New Monasticism for a long time, and is working closely with others at a national level and diocesan level, to host national and diocesan gatherings of those interested in or beginning or sustaining forms of new monastic communities.