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Two Melbourne Christians set to learn the monastic life at Lambeth Palace, UK

Monday 1 June 2015

Jonathan and Rachael Lopez are packing their bags to move in with the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, along with fourteen other Christians from around the world.

Credit: Joel del castillo Photography

Credit: Joel Del Castillo Photography

They have been selected to participate in the Community of St. Anselm: A Year in God’s Time. Archbishop Welby is opening up Lambeth Palace, his London home, to sixteen Christians of any denomination for one year of prayer, theological reflection and service in local communities.

Rachael and Jonathan have both recently graduated from Ridley College in Melbourne, and Jonathan is a candidate for ordination in Melbourne.

“It seemed like something a little bit different and a little bit crazy,” says Rachael, “but when we thought about it, it is something that would really help us in our walk with God, our future ministry and our marriage.”

Jonathan says, “during my time of selection, one of the examining chaplains brought up the idea of living in Christian community.” The Lopez’ didn’t live in a residential community during their time studying at Ridley and Jonathan says, “I never [before] though that community was an important part of our formation.”

The 10-month long program is named after St. Anselm, a Benedictine monk and scholar who served as Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1114AD.

The reference to the monastic life is not for nothing; the program has six elements: prayer, worship, study, service, and community. Through the daily practice of each of these things, participants will live something of the life of a monk.

“This is going to be an integrated 10 months where we’re not going to have the distractions of normal life. The pressure of life is [going to be] reduced. We’re stepping out of our normal world for 10 months,” says Rachael.

Jonathan says, “sometimes you get so busy in life it is like a rollercoaster you can’t get off. This [program] is going to show us the benefit of the monastic life.”

Each participant in the program will be assigned a Spiritual Accompanier, with whom they will work together on different areas of their lives in which they want to grow.

“There will be periods of time every day that [we’ll] be required to be silent,” says Jonathan. “That’s going to be a challenge for me because I don’t really get that in my life. I hope it helps me develop a deeper closeness to God’s heart in the way he’s directing my personal life and the things around me and the world.”

Rachael says she’s looking forward to working on her prayer life. “I’m much more wired towards study, it’s hard for me to slow down and focus on prayer. It’s always been a challenge for me and I’m nervous about it, especially the silence aspect of it. It’s not going to be something I can delay until tomorrow, I’m going to have to really plug into it.”

Jonathan and Rachael are seeking funding towards the program costs. They’re aiming to raise $55-60,000 for the whole year they’ll be away. You can get in touch with them here.

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