A New Monasticism

I recently finished reading School(s) for Conversion: 12 Marks of a New Monasticism, which is a collection of essays written by various individuals from multiple Christian communities across the US. Before reading the book, I was already quite intrigued by this movement of “neo-monasticism.” After reading, I am even more interested. In 2004 a gathering of new monastic communities developed the following document to help identify and understand the movement. The book is an elaboration on each of the 12 marks.

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Moved by God’s Spirit in this time called America to assemble at St. Johns Baptist Church in Durham, NC, we wish to acknowledge a movement of radical rebirth, grounded in God’s love and drawing on the rich tradition of Christian practices that have long formed disciples in the simple Way of Christ. This contemporary school for conversion which we have called a “new monasticism,” is producing a grassroots ecumenism and a prophetic witness within the North American church which is diverse in form, but characterized by the following marks:

1. Relocation to the abandoned places of Empire.

2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.

3. Hospitality to the stranger

4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.

5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the church.

6. Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.

7. Nurturing common life among members of intentional community.

8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.

9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.

10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.

11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.

12. Commitment to a disciplined contemplative life.

May God give us grace by the power of the Holy Spirit
to discern rules for living that will help us
embody these marks in our local contexts as signs
of Christ’s kingdom for the sake of God’s world.

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I think there is a lot to talk about here. But that will be another post.

To learn more:

New Monasticism Website

Christianity Today Article

Christian Century Article

Boston Globe Article

San Francisco Chronicle Q&A Article

LA Times Article

Vows from SF community called SEVEN

Wikipedia entry with a list of communities associated with the movement

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