Our Director Angus Ritchie blogs on an exciting new publication and event taking place next week…
On Tuesday 1st September, you are warmly invited to join us, as we launch a pioneering new community, and a new report on what the wider church can learn from monasticism in east London. The two launches are deeply intertwined, as the shape of the new community has been influenced by the findings of our research.
The report is called ‘Deep calls to deep: monasticism for the city.’ One of its central messages is that monasticism is far more than a set of ideas. It is always embodied in living communities. For this reason, it is a complete misunderstanding to see monasticism as “other worldly.” Religious Orders teach the wider Church and society how to live – here and now – in the light of eternity. Those of us who are not called to the monastic life can learn most from it by face-to-face engagement with members of Religious Orders, and by considering how their wisdom and values can be embodied in the rhythms of our daily life.
That is part of the vision behind the new Community of St George. They are a group of lay people, from different denominations (ranging from Roman Catholic to independent evangelical), who will live in the Rectory of the Parish of St George-in-the-East in Shadwell. They will engage in a common life of worship and of mission in one of the most deprived and diverse neighbourhoods in London.
Members of the Community will gather each morning for half an hour of silent prayer, and half an hour of liturgical prayer (usually the Eucharist) and gather again in the evening for some silence and for Evening Prayer. Each member of the community will have a prayer guide, drawn from a local Jesuit community and from the Oblates of the Assumption in Waltham Forest. The Community will also make corporate retreats to a Benedictine house outside London.
The Community of St George is a practical attempt to live in ways that are shaped by this monastic wisdom
– in the commitment it demands of its members
– in its daily rhythm of worship, embracing silence, the Daily Office and the Eucharist
– in the work each member will do to help the Parish Church to show the love of Christ to their neighbours
– in the role Religious Orders in and beyond East London will have in supporting members of the community in their spiritual journey
We would love to see you at the launch of the Community, when the Rt Revd Adrian Newman (Bishop of Stepney) will preach and will bless the new initiative at a Votive Eucharist of the Holy Spirit. The service is at 7pm on 1st September, and will be followed by a drinks reception at which Dr Damian Howard SJ (from the Jesuit community here in Tower Hamlets) will help us launch the report. If you aren’t able to come, please do download the report from the website (it will be up on the launch day) and keep the Community of St George and the parish it is serving in your prayers.