Just got back from a weekend with the Northumbria Community studying New Monasticism and how it may help us to re-imagine the shape of Church.
For those who don’t know, the Northumbria Community is a world-wide movement based on the principles of Celtic Christianity and based at Hetton Hall, in Northumberland. The Mother House is called Nether Springs and a small community live there welcoming anyone who wishes to visit. These may include members of the wider community (companions), people like myself wishing to explore a particular subject or in some cases people in the area who choose to `drop in`. Members of the community are spread over much of the world and hold together in the daily rhythm of morning, mid-day and evening prayers followed by compline at night. We shared in this rhythm and it was surprisingly comforting to know that the few of us in the Chapel at Nether Springs were actually sharing in the act with people all over the world (the majority unknown to us). This gave a great feeling of belonging and I found myself during the day longing to go to Chapel. Of course the monastic movement has for centuries been structured around such times of worship.
From the opening “Do you want a cup of tea ?” to the closing hugs and farewells we felt as though we belonged. The `we` comprised of myself and my future co-Superintendent of the Borders Mission Circuit, Rev. Jim Magee.
It was a fascinating subject and given my interest in Fresh expressions I wanted to see how the two `rubbed together`. In many ways the development of Fresh Expression communities relies on the same principles of hospitality, food, welcome, unconditional acceptance etc. as the New Monastic movement.
It was interesting to learn how New Monastic movements are springing up all over the place, similar to this one in Northumberland, binding people together but also preparing and equipping them to work in their own communities; showing how a life of sacrifice, integrity, simplicity can change not only our hearts but also be a part of the transformation of lives around.
Whilst not necessarily wanting to `run away` and join the monastery I feel a great warmth towards the Northumbria Community and I appreciated not only all that they gave me but the love that was shown. I certainly need to explore this more.
If anyone wants to know anything more about them have a look at this link http://www.northumbriacommunity.org/