For the Christian of the 21st century the term New Monasticism primarily finds its source within a letter written in 1935 by the late great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer to his brother Karl-Friedrich. The letter was calling for a counter-cultural movement against the Third Reich which was becoming increasingly more influential within the German Church, and includes the following statement:
The restoration of the Church will surely come from a kind of new monasticism, which has in common with the old kind only the uncompromising nature of life according to the Sermon on the Mount, following Christ. I think that it is about time to gather the people for this….
In 1980 Revd. John Skinner (who, along with his wife Linda, were the principle founders of the Northumbria Community), was training to become an Anglican priest at Lincoln Bible College. There he came across the Bonhoeffer passage quoted above, and described his response to it as, ‘an epiphany for living’.
Revd. John Skinner was amongst some of the first people to associate Bonhoeffer’s term ‘new monasticism’ firstly to the application of monastic themes within the life of the non- monastic, and secondly to the development of community life amongst the laity or secular. Revd. John and Linda Skinner spent ten years in North Northumberland developing a ‘Way for living’ supporting their family through occasional work and receiving direction from Br. Roland Walls from the Community of Transfiguration. During this period they, along with a few close friends developed a ‘Rule of Life’ that would provide the foundation not only for the Northumbria Community, but also for many other groups and individuals.
Monos Foundation is one such group that has benefitted from John and Linda’s experiment in North Northumberland and through two of its founders (Anthony and Clare Grimley) in 1998 was tasked by Revd. John Skinner to develop a forum for others who would follow. This Centre is a commitment to that task and we hope provides a valuable place for others who feel called to explore monastic spirituality through a new monasticism.
Our aim for the next few years is to provide people and groups with some of the luggage that has been left at the station by years of discerning new monasticism through community, social justice and mission shaped lens, (all of which are important in our Christian lives). To remind us of the heart of New Monasticism; striped of its neurotic post-modern veneer and apologising for the misuse of its name, particularly against traditional monasticism, in order to serve the Church from within and in all its denominations in love and compassion. The call to New Monasticism is the call of the individual to repentance and to resist evil, so that we can live in true human community, wherever that may be.
For information about our COURSES, workshops, conferences and occasional publications please contact us, visit our events page and centre information, or feel free to drop into our centre at the Mercian Centre.