Chemin Neuf community welcomed at Lambeth
MEMBERS OF THE Chemin Neuf religious community were formally welcomed to Lambeth Palace last week, despite being aware their commission is ‘radical’ and a ‘risk’.
The four members of the community, who took up residence last month, were welcomed with a Service of Thanksgiving and Dedication in the Palace Crypt last Thursday.
Consisting of a married Anglican couple, Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher, a Lutheran, Oliver Matri, and a Roman Catholic, Sister Ula Michlowicz, the group will share in the daily round of prayer.
Speaking at a press conference before the service, the Archbishop of Canterbury said he wants to make Lambeth the ‘centre of prayer, flowing from here and bubbling up elsewhere’, in England’s Cathedrals, Dioceses and the wider Communion.
The Most Rev Justin Welby has committed to three priority areas for his ministry in the renewal of prayer and religious life.
He said on Thursday: “There has never been a renewal of the Church in Western Europe without a renewal of prayer and the life of religious communities. If we want to see things changed, it starts with prayer.
“I am deeply moved that in God’s grace Chemin Neuf agreed to this radical and exciting new step of coming to live as a community of prayer, hospitality and learning at Lambeth Palace.”
The Archbishop added: “We pray that this step of obedience will bear fruit among us, and for the church.”
His Chaplain, the Rev Jo Wells, called it an ‘exciting risk’ to cross boundaries that some are afraid to cross.
She said: “Prayer is the backbone of our life here at Lambeth Palace.”
“It is fantastic to have Chemin Neuf among us here,” the Chaplain went on.
“They help us sustain the sense of worship between our bursts of prayer.”
A Chemin Neuf member, Alan Morley-Fletcher, said: “What excited me most about the prospect of coming to Lambeth Palace was the idea of being able to be an ecumenical witness in an Anglican centre here in the middle of London.”
All of the representatives noted the warm welcome they received when they arrived at the Palace last month.
A different Diocese is prayed for each day, along with the wider work of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion as a whole and the prayer requests that Lambeth Palace receives daily.
The Archbishop also wants the representatives to go into the local community and make their presence felt there.
He made his commitment to the group clear, having spent retreats with them before ordination to both his posts of Bishop and Archbishop.
Welby stressed that he wants the Palace to not only be an office, but also a centre of prayer.
The Chemin Neuf, meaning ‘new way’, is a Catholic foundation with an ecumenical vocation, consisting of men and women, married and single, some with lifetime vows and others a shorter term commitment.