Friday, December 15, 2017

+Eleanor leading by Anselmian example

Some Anglicans Down Under are aware of an initiative of the ABC Up Yonder, starting up and continuing to support a community of young people devoting their lives to praying in community for a year at Lambeth Palace. 

The Community of St Anselm is coming - in a Kiwi fashion - to  the Diocese of Wellington, in fact to Wellington our capital city (where we need intercessors as our parliament embarks on a dangerous experiment in entertaining the prospect of legalised euthanasia).

Bishop Eleanor Sanderson, Assistant Bishop of Wellington, is going to move with her family into a Kelburn residence in order to lead a new community devoted to prayer and mission, close to Victoria University.

"“The style of leadership needed in this season is embodied Kingdom examples of deep, Christ-shaped community and deep, missional discipleship alongside the usual episcopal calling within the office of a Bishop.” 
Such embodiment couldn’t be plainer, as Bishop Eleanor prepares to share a new residence in the university suburb of Kelburn with a community of young adult leaders, and later, tertiary students.  This new ministry prepares a space for young students to step into deeper Christian community for the first time.  
Ellie explains: “the intention is to launch a new residential and non-residential community that has a sister relationship with the Community of St Anselm, formed by the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace.”  This community has brought a profound influence to the ministry of Lambeth Palace already, and when Ellie travels to the UK this Christmas, she will be spending time with the community at Lambeth Palace to build relationships."

And that is not all! Read the whole article from which the citation is drawn and note that Bishop Justin, Bishop of Wellington, is shifting soon to Whanganui (a regional town in the north western corner of the Diocese) and Bishopscourt, the official residence for the Bishop, will be used for emergency accommodation. #theseChristiansareturningtheworldupsidedown

Not every bishop in our church is in the position of being able to offer these particular leadings by example. Drawing attention to these radical developments in the Diocese of Wellington is about celebrating these inspirational decisions and not about pressing others to do the same.


Father Ron Smith said...

Hopefully, this new community will be developing a semi-monastic life-style - based on Common Prayer and the Eucharist. These are the basis of the common Christian life.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful, of course. For a while, TEC was actually seeding initiatives like this with grants, and I got to know the one attached to the cathedral in Boston fairly well. Naturally, TEC communities kept the Rule of Ron, which was very interesting for eg Baptists and Methodists accepted into them, but also inculcated skills for doing bible study, evangelism and projects. All of these houses are an obvious variation on the idea of the intentional community as an alternative to the congregational parish, but the revisioning of development, mentoring and teaching by person rather than by herd is no less important. Is Theology House involved with this? My last comment on the Upstream:Judgment thread is probably my best first response to this OP.


Jean said...

Some good news, good on + Ellie. I am not sure how 'monastic' students will be Fr Ron but you can be rest assured that Ellie has a fondness for the sacraments and depth of meaning embedded in such. I wouldn't be surprised if this is why she is seeking to find about more about the community at the ABC's residence.

For a wider overview Bowman + Justin for quite a few years ran an urban street mission called urban vision that was incorporated into the Anglican Churches oversight in Wellington. Sort of an intentional community with specific mission to those living on the city streets. He later moved with his wife and children to set up a more retreat style ministry as he realised those they were helping needed to get away from their current living context, during this time he worked with youth in a secular setting as well, and became a Deacon. Ellie has quite a different background, academically and traditionally grounded. I would take a stab in the dark and say this decision comes out of using Ellie's strengths (her theological education acumen and people skills) to best model the Diocese's priorities of 'being family who lives their faith' and 'discipling, and modelling leadership.' It is pertinent to say there is a generation gap when it comes to leadership - in all my time now in the Anglican context I have worshipped with only one other person my age, however there are a number about 10 years younger. Wellington's situation didn't happen in a vacuum in previous years +Tom had purposefully encouraged and fast tracked any impediments for a number of youth workers to go on to become ministers. As was the case with our youth worker when I lived there, who coming from a different denomination (doesn't exist in NZ) was confirmed (so he could become a Deacon) and made a Deacon prior to training at St John's so he wouldn't need to be there for as many years. This wasn't done in an arbitrary manner, he had done a years theological training already as well as been in a missionary context just neither 'qualified' in the Anglican setting.

As for the euthanasia bill passing it's first hearing - nashing of teeth, nashing of teeth....

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much, Jean, for telling me more about + Eleanor's initiative and about Anglican leadership on the blessed isles. You have sparked some memories, thoughts, and questions in my mind, but it would be best for me to wait a few days before commenting.

" all my time now in the Anglican context I have worshiped with only one other person my age, however there are a number about 10 years younger."

Is it odd living between two cohorts? In principle, all that we need to be one is a shared allegiance to Jesus Christ. In practise, many people find that it is very hard to see this unity when others in the Body do not recognise their most formative influences and experiences.


Jean said...

Hi Bowman

Oh dear don't think too hard : ) I am not sure I had much brain juice left when I wrote the above...

Is it odd living between to cohorts? - A bit odd, you live as a bit of a bridge explaining one generation's actions and thinking to the other reasonably frequently! Personally, yes sometimes you can feel a bit on the side-lines in terms of social connectedness within the church not in terms of getting along or being involved but in those things you do with people your own age such as 'hang out' : ) . Along the years I have collected a few close christian friends albeit not my age, and at many times 'hung out' mostly with non-Christians. I have been blessed to have benefited by mature Christians (not just age here) who have prayed for me, and given me practical opportunities and encouragement through participation especially in the area of spiritual gifts, which was an eye opener to me at one point in time. So wouldn't say my spiritual growth has been impeded at all. But yes it is probably harder to stay the course I think. As an aside the older generation say things like, 'I wish I was 40 again' (and this makes you feel better about your age)... then the younger generation say... 'I hope I look as young as you when I am as old as you' (and this makes you wonder how to feel!!)...

Take Care

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jean, for your reflections on inbetweenness in the Body. At times, I could have written them myself, although my peripateticism is more the occasion than my age.

From place to place, local societies vary in how much connection they foster. In those that foster rather few connections-- people live in small families, make all of their close friends early in life, and experience otherness mainly at work-- more inbetweenness happens as a matter of course. In these places, those who did not grow up in the matrices of connection in these places are *participating outsiders* like St Paul, less supported in their affective lives but perhaps also less filtered in what they understand. In churches, those gifted as you have been interpret all sorts of things to those in the Body who are puzzled by others in the Body.

For such tight matrices do not support recognition of all life realities, and those who did grow up in them struggle-- sometimes just a bit, sometimes near the core of who they are-- with cares that are urgent yet unmentionable. Hence the pain around topics that are much-avoided and yet much-discussed-- not just That one, but others on bullying, childhood diversity, mental illness, moral injury in war, lives shaped around physical pain, the effects of inequality, the sheer pervasiveness of sexual harassment, and no doubt others. There is an inbetweenness in having the empathy to understand the cries of Legion but also the fear of the villagers.

For me, the most interesting part of Leviticus is the Metsora, the one in which the one afflicted-- there is no indication that this is a colony or hospital-- dwells on the margin of the camp or settlement being visited only by the priest until God somehow heals them so that the priest can bring them back. The wily text itself frustrates all shallow retrojections of modern medicine into it, and already in late antiquity the rabbis were interpreting the strange condition of *metsora*, which can afflict even inanimate things, as a metaphor. Again, there is an inbetweenness in those visitations that seems to be the antitype of Jesus's healing ministry, and just so, the model of every pastoral ministry.

And of course, the matrices of social connection are shaped by the big social forces of-- (in no particular order) age, sex, race, class, ethnicity, and wealth-- that divide places into zones, and so indirectly divide the Body into parishes with common social interests. These forces are strong enough to enable ideologies that not only reveal the world and conceal it, but also inform the self and deceive it. There is again a kind of inbetweenness in participating in a parish from outside the interests and ideology that shape the view of the world on which its parishioners rely by default. There is another inbetweenness wherever-- eg in + Eleanor's community or an actual monastery-- the Body takes forms that are intentionally not *parochial*.

A subtext of St Paul's letter to the Romans is the creative tension between its early chapters and its last ones. In chapters 5-8 we hear of a new life that is beyond all this; from chapter 12 to perhaps the end, we hear of lives well spent serving God amid the older forces where he has put them. Without inbetweenness, there is no gospel, or at least no apostle; without patient service to the Body somewhere, the seed is eaten by birds.

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the offspring of God." And there is no reconciliation without inbetweeness. The ancient god of boundaries and crossings was Hermes, whose name was given to the art of understanding across differences, *hermeneutics*. But obviously Christ far surpassed him in inbetweenness-- the incarnation, the healings, the resurrection, the ascension. Indeed, from beginning to end, he surpasses inbetweenness itself-- "He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."


Jean said...

Hi Bowman

Apologies for the late reply of which I am appreciativeness, it seems there is a need for a theology of in-betweenness!

There is truth in what you write, it some ways being 'outside of' enables the privelege of also seeing from 'outside of'. I have always valued (when I came back to faith as an adult) the years I had studying and learning the bible without a lot of guidance, it means having a point of reference gleaned learning with God aside from a school of thought. Notwithstanding I enjoy formal learning also ... but I do not always accept everything being taught : ) .. Ha, ha, you mean some people can not relate to both Legion and the villagers?

I guess in a sense Christians in a secular world all live in in-betweeness, working as you say to reconcile those we encounter with the God we know all the while living in that world and belonging to another! I did enjoy you description of God surpassing inbetweenness itself.

A Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Jean, and a Merry Christmas to you too!

If you like reading about lives lived in between, it is hard to imagine one more so than that of the poet Denise Levertov who passed from the CoE through TEC on her way to the RCC--

Her nearly forgotten father Paul Levertoff is fascinating in his own right (pun intended)-- a descendant of the Lubavitcher rebbe, an evangelist to the Jews, the husband of a Welsh woman with a heart for mysticism, a friend of T. S. Eliot, the vicar at Holy Trinity, Shoreditch, and an advocate for a Hebrew rite within the Anglican Communion. But Denise Levertov was one of the lights of poetry in America at midcentury, a poet whose collections were steeped in biblical metaphor and social protest, and an essayist with a alert ear for prosody.

Although there are some fine Anglican systematicians and biblical scholars, I often think that the tradition's distinctive theological vocation is to a modern revival of hagiography. I may blog on that someday.