Let’s face it, modern intentional communities don’t have the best reputation for sustainability, accountability and long-term health. At their worst, they can become insular or even cult-like.
We’re setting a number of things in place early on which we hope will help with our overall health as a community.
One of the Marks of A New Monasticism is “humble submission to Christ’s Body, the Church”. For this reason, most New Monastic Communities choose to affiliate themselves with one or more of the many ‘tribes’ of the Christian Church – which gives some guidelines as well as an accountability structure for leadership.
We are an Ecumenical Shared Ministry of the Anglican Church of Canada (and more locally the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia) and the United Church of Canada (Victoria Presbytery and BC Conference). Both of these denominations have strong guidelines and processes of accountability.
We also find great affinity with the Parish Collective – who are seeking to support Christian Communities who are rooting themselves in their neighbourhoods and recovering a sense of ‘place’ in the ‘parish’.
Our members may come from many different ‘tribes’ (or perhaps some will come from none).
As with ‘old’ monastic orders we have “Visitors” (aka Episcopal Visitor, Bishop Visitor, etc) – leaders in Christ’s Church who will visit us regularly, and do yearly check-in (at least once a year) with every member of the community.
We will have at least one visitor who will be a Bishop in the Anglican Communion and one who is a leader in the United Church. These visitors will be elected yearly by the community.
The role of the Visitor/s will be to hold a mirror to the community in terms of our common life and health. This will primarily mean joining the community once a year and interviewing all members in a retreat setting. A secondary role for the Visitor/s will be to support and advocate for the Community in the wider structures of the Churches and ecumenically.
The Visitor/s will strive to be present to witness vows of Covenanting members and will strive to be available to the community leadership in times of need or crisis.
Our current (Anglican) Visitor (elected September 2014) is the Rt. Rev. Dr, Logan McMenamie, Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of BC and a Benedictine Canon. Our United Church visitor the Rev. Dr. Connie DenBok who has worked in the fields of Church renewal, Church planting and Fresh Expressions of Church.
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We will be part of national and international conversations within the wider Church about how ‘new monastic’ communities can be a life-giving and renewing part of Christ’s Body. We also hope to connect with like minded new monastic, traditional monastic, emerging & missional expressions of the Church – and hope to facilitate conversations between these communities.
Near to us, we’re excited to see communities like Church of the Apostles, Church of the Beloved, Grandview Calvary, Servants Vancouver, Jacob’s Well, Mustard Seed Associates, Hope Farm, St. Chiara Community – and many others who are doing great work in re-imagining Church. Further abroad in Canada we see folks like The Jeremiah Community (Toronto) and Little Flowers (Winnipeg) as kindred spirits – and we hope to be part of networks which feed our dreams, creativity and hopes! We’re also encouraged by the experiments in intentional community happening at Norval United Church (Ontario) and Rundle United Church (Alberta).
These are a few of the structures in place which seek to ensure spiritual, emotional and physical health, healthy conflict resolution and stability within the Emmaus Community.