The third group of young people to spend “a year in God’s time” as members of the Community of St Anselm – the new monastic order based at Lambeth Palace – have been commissioned to “be Jesus to the world” at the end of their year. Lambeth Palace is the official London residence and offices of the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Community was started by Archbishop Justin Welby, who serves as abbot of the community, as part of his priority of renewing prayer and spiritual life.
At a special service in the Lambeth Palace chapel last week, friends and family members heard testimonies of how the year had transformed those who took part. During the service, Welby said that his prayer was that each member had grown so close to Jesus “that his call becomes your call, and his cause your cause.”
Answering this call, he said, means “being to the world what Jesus has been to you – so that you indeed might be Jesus to the world.”
He added: “For we are called, each of us, not only to proclaim the call of Christ to discipleship and obedience, to conversion and faith; but prophetically to show what that means, and in this Community of St Anselm, that is what we seek to happen day by day by day.”
Concluding his sermon, the Archbishop said: “What you will do in the future is unknown. Yet I am profoundly confident that those who follow Christ will be caught up in the cause of justice – and that final justice which comes with reconciliation with God – and will live out that cause in the reality of love for those who are the victims of injustice; and that they will live out that cause in proclaiming the good news of Jesus to those who live without the love and light of Christ.
“Brothers and sisters, go in faith! Go and live your lives in the strength of Him who makes you alive!”
Drawing on the riches of ancient traditions, the Community of St. Anselm invites Christians aged 20-35 spend a year praying, studying and serving those on the margins. The community welcomes young Christians from many countries, traditions and denominations. “It aims to be a symbol of God’s desire for unity and reconciliation; and a place where that reconciliation becomes reality in shared daily life,” Lambeth Palace said.
The community this year included young Christians from Pakistan, the United States, France, Ghana, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Australia, India, United Kingdom and South Africa; and from five denominations: Pentecostal, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Baptist, and Methodist.
Each year the community includes resident members from the U.K. and around the world – who live together at Lambeth Palace – and U.K.-based non-resident members who combine the community with their work or studies. They all commit to the same Rule of Life, which gives them a shared focus on walking closely with Jesus.
Most of this year’s members will return to their home contexts and churches, to share and live out what they have learned and received over the last 10 months. Several members are exploring ordination, and several more are going on to explore further the religious life in various contexts.