Archbishop Justin commissions new members of Community of St Anselm


(All photographs: Marc Gascoigne/Lambeth Palace) 

Forty-five young Christians were commissioned by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, today as new members of the monastic-inspired Community of St Anselm at Lambeth Palace in London.

The community, which was founded by Archbishop Justin last year, brings Christians aged 20-35 – from many countries and cultures, and many church denominations and traditions – together for 10 months under a shared Rule of Life focused on prayer, study and service to the most vulnerable in society.


Shortly after taking office in 2013, Archbishop Justin said his first priority would be the renewal of prayer and Religious communities across the church. The following year he announced that a community for young Christians would be founded at Lambeth Palace.

The Community of St Anselm is made up of resident members from around the world, who live together at Lambeth Palace, and non-residents based in and around London, who combine their life in the community with their other responsibilities to work, family and church.


Archbishop Justin is the Abbot of the Community, which is led by Prior Anders Litzell and a team made up of members of the Chemin Neuf Community who live at Lambeth Palace.

This year the members from this year come from all over the world, including the UK, USA, France, Poland, Zimbabwe, Mexico, Finland, South Africa and India, among others. They also represent a wide variety of church streams and denominations, from Anglican and Episcopal to United Reformed, Methodist, Lutheran, Newfrontiers, Orthodox and Roman Catholic.

The community this year is made up of 15 international residents, and twenty-one non-residents who will combine their life in the community with their other responsibilities to work, family and church. In addition seven non-resident members from 2015-16 will be continuing their commitment for another year.


Preaching at the service today, Archbishop Justin spoke about how adopting the Benedictine monastic practice of “placing yourself under discipline” is “extraordinarily counter-cultural”. “But if we are going to call ourselves disciples of Jesus Christ, we start by saying I accept the sovereignty of God. There is no other way of being a disciple.”

“The Community of St Anselm very deliberately takes people from all over the world, with their cultural differences and personality differences. It deliberately takes bits of the disunited church. It takes all these different factions and fragments and it’s an experiment to see if together we can live in unity, because we are in the vine – because we abide in the vine.”

The Archbishop said the point of this year for the members was “a bet that the reality of Christ is sufficient and that the promises of the community’s Rule of Life are true. That because of a year spent here learning ‘abiding’ in God, there will be much fruit – individually and collectively – which is the calling and purpose of Christian discipleship: to bear fruit.”


Speaking during the service, the Prior of the Community of Anselm, the Revd Anders Litzell, said: “The Community of St Anselm has been established to serve Archbishop Justin’s call for a renewal of prayer and Religious life across the Church. The new members are today making a commitment to a shared Rule of Life that is about shaping our whole beings in response to God’s radical grace in Jesus Christ.

“We trust that the experience will transform these young lives to reflect the beauty of God’s holiness with irrepressible integrity. And we pray that they will go on to help transform our world through self-giving in their local, national and international communities.”


“I’ve never felt so alive!” Combining monastic community with working life in London

Sign-ups are now closed for Non-Resident Membership 2016-2017. Applications for the 2017-2018 cohort open Advent 2016.

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For the last 10 months a group of busy young professionals have committed to the radical experiment of following Jesus as members of a quasi-monastic community, while keeping their own busy jobs in central London and beyond. It was a risky venture. Prayer so often gets squeezed to the margins of professional life, and prioritising God in the middle of the working day is not for the faint-hearted.

So for those who took up Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby’s challenge to put prayer right at the heart of their professional lives, it’s been incredibly rewarding – and often life-changing. While the resident Community tends to get a lot of media attention (live at Lambeth Palace! Be a monk!), our non-resident members have begun to address the question of “Can we be a community that loves and grows and prays amid the pressures of normal daily life?”

Here’s what non-resident member Katie, who lives and works in central London, had to say about the last year:

“When I first began this year, I was concerned that I wouldn’t have the time or the ability to really be committed to the experiment, while working a full-time job. That really concerned me. It’s been really amazing that although I do have a busy job and I’m also married and have a family life, it is possible to make time, even a lot of time, for God and for pursuing faith.

“I would recommend it to anyone who’s considering that – even if you think you would be far too busy, if you’re interested in your faith and in following God more closely, then in spending a year really dedicating yourself to that, you can learn some amazing things. God can show you that it can be done.”

Ignacio, a non-resident whose job takes him all over the world, had this to add: “For people who are considering applying, if you look at the amount of activity the Community involves, you might never do it… Do it! Give the time to God. I would never have assumed that I would be able to do all that I did, and God made it work. Spend the time. This is one year very well spent.”

Meanwhile Joanna, non-resident member and private client solicitor, said: “Putting God at the centre of your life and saying yes to him with the core of your being, with your heart, mind and soul, is the best decision you will ever make… I’ve never felt so alive!”

Apply by 30th June for non-residential membership for the year starting September 2016. You can start your application here.

To discuss any questions you might have, drop us an email at or call 0207 898 1210, 9am-5pm weekdays.

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