Thirty-three members of the St Anselm’s community at Lambeth Palace have finished their year together with a service of celebration and commissioning.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the Abbot of the Community, prayed for them and presented each member with a Bible.
“My prayer for you at the end of this year is that you go on finding out what it is to be fully human because when other people see that, they will crave it,” he said. And he urged them to continue deepening their relationships with each other.
“Going on being in relationship. Take what you learned here and continue to grow.... And go on growing in being human.”
Archbishop Justin told the community they had given him cause to rejoice and celebrate and also prompted him to repent.
“Thank you,” he added. “You are a blessing to this place.”
This is the second year of the monastic-inspired community. The class of 2017 included members from the UK, Finland, France, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, South Africa, Tunisia, USA and Zimbabwe. The membership was ecumenical with representatives from a variety of traditions including Anglican, Episcopalian, Brethren, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, United Methodist, Coptic Orthodox and United Reformed
The service – which was attended by family and friends of the members, as well as Lambeth Palace staff – included testimonies from several members which the Archbishop described as “profoundly moving and utterly inspiring.”
Ben Palmer from the UK said his time in St Anselm had given him the tools to carry on the long road towards being the prayerful man he wanted to be.
“But far more importantly, it has cemented my utter need and dependency on having fellow brothers and sisters who are walking the path with me,” he said.
Mirja-Maaria Ridanpaa, from Finland, said she had arrived hoping to discern God’s calls on her life and to learn how to maintain a more regular prayer life.
“God answered those two things powerfully,” she said, “but he did so much more.... I am more able to live an authentic and uncompromising life for him and his glory and I’m so thankful for that.”
South African Siyanda Mgudlwa described the year as phenomenal.
“God has taken me to territories that I would not have gone on my own. And he has been with me all of the way.”
He described how being part of a diverse, international community was so different from his usual experience of being in a small world of people like himself. But he had learned to love people who were different and to see Christ in everyone.
St Anselm’s began in 2015 when the Archbishop invited young Christians from around the world to spend a year living together in community at Lambeth Palace in London.
His vision for the Community was for young people to follow an intensive pattern of prayer, study and serving local communities that the ancient monastics would have recognised, before taking this experience back into their lives.
The community also includes non-residential members who commit to the same Rule of Life while continuing in their work or studies in London. The members divide their time between prayer and worship, study, and working alongside vulnerable people with local charities.
Click here for details of membership for 2017-18