The Emmaus Community is a New Monastic community whose recognition of Christ in our midst leads us to walk the Way of love through prayer, simplicity and presence in our neighbourhood.

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People have asked – is this a community house?  How does it work? What does it look like ‘on the ground’?
Our immediate answer is ‘we don’t really know – that depends on who comes and what the Spirit decides to do with it’.

Having said that, we do offer a few thumbnail sketches of how it might evolve.

Starting Points:
Our initial starting point for the vision is that interested folks might engage in a formation process even as we move into the Fernwood-Oaklands-Rockland-Jubilee neighbourhoods throughout 2014-2015 (or, if not ready to do that, at least to be an ongoing part of the conversation and aim to do so at some point in the future) – ideally moving within a 10-15 minute walk from each other.
 
We’d begin by finding a small, stable core of people who can commit for the long haul (we’re thinking in terms of 5-10 years at least) – as well as also eventually welcoming those who know they may be shorter-term but would still love to live in a community where life is shared together in deeper ways. During this time we’ll engage in prayerfully building the vision as well as being formed together into life in community using resources like the Intentional Community Handbook and others.
the-intentional-christian-community-handbook-for-idealists-hypocrites-and-wannabe-disciples-of-jesus-1

Whether folks chose to rent/buy their housing as individuals or family units, or whether there are some who would wish to form community houses where people would live together in small clusters ultimately depends on who comes and what they determine their hopes and needs are.  Our overall hope would be to be a ‘village’ within the neighbourhood – comprised of any number of individual/family households – as well as some community houses which would be conducive to groups of people who shared similar chemistry/life stage and wanted to live together.  These community houses might have (what the monastics call) ‘customaries’ which would allow them to have an even more intensive life together within our wider,more general, shared Rhythm of Life.

As we develop the earliest versions of our common Rhythm of Life, we would, early on, also hope to find a space to pray in. This may be a challenge – and we haven’t found a lot of ‘third spaces’ in the neighbourhood that could host this.   Ultimately, we’d love to find a space where we could gather at any time and where we could set up a permanent sacred refuge for prayer and other types of gatherings.  This could be in a storefront, a church, a pub during closed hours, a co-op common area or a school.

We’d imagine our prayer life would embody times which are reflective & contemplative – as well as times for intergenerational, creative worship that engages those from ages 0 to 99!  We would likely begin a regular Eucharist/communion service in a common space that would also welcome all – and could serve as a portal into the spiritual life of the community for visitors.

We would like to establish places in the neighbourhood to be ‘sent out’ to.   This could be a book club, a theology time in the pub, or a bluegrass night in the coffee shop.  It could be a community garden.  It could be a contemplative prayer group or a parents/kids drop in.   It could be a hymn sing at a seniors residence.

Ultimately, our hope is not to colonize a neighbourhood but to ‘come alongside what God is already doing there’ – and as we build relationships and listen deeply, to try and understand other places where we might partner with others to make life that much more liveable for all.

Though we hope that most of our sending would happen in the neighbourhood, some of our sent-ness may reach into other areas such as volunteering with a place like the Mustard Seed Street Church downtown or starting a community kitchen nearby the neighbourhood.

759-Boulevard-Books

Finally, we’d love to find common places to garden – and create other common spaces of beauty and wonder.   The notion of street libraries / book boxes which have taken off in Victoria could be a simple way to build community and recycle.  How might we find/create common green spaces for the common good?  Could we create a grassroots car share network so that we can all minimize car ownership?

Even in the short term the creative possibilities are endless.

Mid-Term:

Drawing on the notion that traditionally monasteries created a sustainable economy by baking bread, making beer, or cheese or the like, we’d like to explore the possibilities of longer term micro-industries that could help support the common life of the community and potentially even provide some small income for our members.  This could be a bakery, a beer brewing enterprise, a fair-trade coffee shop or some other creative enterprise that the community would share in common and that would benefit the life of the neighbourhood and God’s creation.

Longer-Term:
The good work done by some ecovillages or cohousing movements inspire us – and again, these notions of space and place really do hearken back to the monasteries of old. Our ultimate dream would be to see whether an urban abbey eco-friendly co-housing space could be built. This would be a space which would take into account the traditional monastic space orientation of ‘seven sacred spaces’ (which are summarized here) – and would also be a space from which we can be sent (missio) as well as where we can welcome others (hospitality).

An example of a oo-housing unit from Manhanttan

An example of a oo-housing unit from Manhanttan

Overall:
These are all just very initial thumbnail sketches of how life might unfold in the short and long term – noting that things are very likely to change and take shape in ways we could not ask for nor imagine!  Ultimately, we want to leave unlimited space for the Holy Spirit to move, as well as for the individual gifts of those who come to the community to be honoured and nurtured.