What are Anglican Religious Communities?
Anglican Religious or Traditional communities are located across the globe, each sharing a life of prayer and ministry, and adhering to their own rule or charism. The vocation to this life of service takes many forms but what unites the monks and nuns, brothers and sisters, is the commitment to follow Christ in love in a community that may be living together. They might be enclosed within a complex or in a dispersed form, over a wide area.
Those committing to the Religious Life take vows and make promises to God, involving deep and positive values of attending to God and living together. . The vows differ by community, but all include:
- Living a simple life and sharing possessions (poverty)
- Refraining from sexual or exclusive relationships (chastity)
- Setting aside the freedom to do as we please and instead, committing to listening to others (obedience).
New Monastic Communities
New Monasticism traces its history back to the Second World War, and the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who advocated a complete lack of compromise in a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount in the discipleship of Christ. 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.
Communities and groups with a rhythm of life have formed across the capital, some for a short while, while others have been long term.
What are the benefits of living in a religious community?
Many people think you must give up things when you enter a community, but there are many great things about living a religious life. Here are just a few:
- A support network – In whatever community, there will be brothers or sisters who have gone before with many years of wisdom and experience. Your fellow community members will be a huge support network available to you when you need it, helping you through life’s trials.
- Prayer – In secular life, we juggle many demands, between family, work, a social life, and for some, a world in cyberspace, meaning there is no time to shut the door and pray. In community life, there is a chance for corporate and private prayer, helping create a deeper and disciplined spirituality.
- A place for balance and simplicity – Away from the demands from busy families, communities offer lives of prayer, contemplation, ministry, and space for retreat and reflection.
- Mentors – Often those who are alongside you on the journey will have held down mainstream jobs, worked in companies, on the frontlines of situations overseas, or in challenging situations in our streets. All can offer good support in your chosen community and offer a different view.
- A Sense of Self – By encouraging to discover one’s gifts, weaknesses, and a strong relationship with God, we are called to ultimately travel with God and find out what your calling is to be.
- Freedom beyond the rat race – By living in a share traditional community, you’re not a wage slave, to pay the bills, and consume more each year of your life. Communities share resources and wealth, which allows to time for freedom to work and explore the will of God.
- Opportunities to serve – To serve one another, to serve in schools, hospitals, or a reason to give something back to the wider community in the form of social justice.
London Diocese Communities (Traditional and New Monastic)
- Order of St Benedict Edgware (OSB) – Edgware Abbey has two sisters with guest areas for retreats. Read more.
- Society of St Margaret (SSM) Hackney at St Saviours Priory, and;
- The Society of St Margaret, Chiswick. This is a nursing home caring for sisters from several different orders.
- The Moot new monastic community. A welcoming contemplative community, exploring our relationship with God, the world around us, and one another; inspired by monastic wisdom.
- The Community of St Anselm. A one-year experience of monastic life for people aged 20-35, based at Lambeth Palace.
- The Community of St Francis (CSF) in Southwark very close to Waterloo station – Three Sisters with hospitality ministry and day retreats. (Out of lockdown)
- The Society of St Francis (SSF) in Plaistow. This unique ministry of Friars works with the otherwise ignored or marginalised and has a continued witness of prayer to the locality in East London, while sharing the joy of the Franciscan charism.
Other Recognised Communities within reasonable reach of London:
The New Anglican Religious Life website includes a range of material on various expressions of Religious Life. There is a section that early-stage enquirers would be looking for, and it includes listings of the various types of communities with brief info and contact. There is also a page on the Church of England site on the religious life, with fuller descriptions about the Benedictines, the Franciscans, and links to all UK-wide Active, Contemplative and New Monastic Communities.
Across London, there are informal meet-up groups with people who are considering a vocation to the Anglican Religious Life. The monthly events run by the Franciscans (online during the pandemic) and is for anyone considering any community. It allows participants to share with the group their questions and thoughts in an informal basis. To find out more email Brother Finnian SSF. They also have a Twitter feed hosted by a different community representative every week called @MonkNunCofE.