Who Are the Anglican Religious Communities?
The Anglican Religious Communities are Christians from all walks of life who chose in different ways to live out their Christian life as members of Religious Communities seeking to worship God through a disciplined life of prayer, to serve God in the world by offering their time, labour and gifts to work for the Kingdom of God and to live in community with other Christians.
There are many different expressions of Religious Life. From the Life Vowed communities to those who live in their own home but chose a way of discipline and giving to God of time by linking into a dispersed community. Each group finds their own way of connecting with God, seeking to join in the work of bringing forth God's kingdom.
Traditional or Established Communities
The established communities follow a life given to God by taking lifelong vows of Poverty, Celibacy and Obedience.
The brothers and sisters who chose this path commit to a life of service by sacrificing their whole being to love, honour and serve God and his people through worship, offering their skills and abilities in the service of God and seeking to love all for the sake of Christ under lifelong vows.
Each community will have its own way of serving God; some centre their life on a life of prayer and worship living primarily within the confines of the convent or monastery; others lead a life devoted to serving others in the world by offering support to those in society who need it.
There are lots of different kinds of community and each will be distinguished by its habit, the distinctive clothing each community wears. Some habits are very traditional and what most people will imagine when thinking of monks and nuns but some are less obvious. Each community has a different emphasis to their life some of which are shown below.
The Order of St Benedict follow the Rule of St Benedict and his teachings. There are number of different Benedictine Communities - some male, some female and some mixed.
Benedictine Communities are contemplative, spending most of their time in the environs of the convent or Monastery. There is is an emphasis on prayer and silence, contemplation, Divine Office and the Eucharist.
Franciscan Communities follow the teachings of St Frances and St Clare.
They share a common life of prayer and a commitment to issues of justice, peace and the integrity of Creations. Franciscans are very active int their local communities with involvement with a variety of ministries.
Other communities often follow the teaching and ethos of their founder. Some Communities were founded as teaching or nursing orders while others came into being doing a certain work and the Community flourished and prospered. Communities today have evolved and developed as society has changed so may be doing different work but their roots of prayer and work remains grounded in the teaching of Christ.
The brothers and sisters of each Community will usually wear a habit that is distinctive to their Community. Usually the habits are blue, black or grey and in women's communities some wear a veil, some not.
Acknowledged and Emerging Communities
The Acknowledged and Emerging communities consist of communities that do not take lifelong vows, but express their love for God in seeking to create praying worshipping communities in their local environment by living a life of prayer, work and commitment to God and his world.
Whilst traditional communities take a vow of chastity or celibacy some acknowledged and emerging communities may expect their members to remain single whilst others may included members who are married and even have children.
There is an expectation of some form of commitment, often for a set period of time as part of the individual's journey with God, sometimes with a regular renewal of the commitment but in a few instances with lifelong promises.
These communities are often very active encouraging prayer and mission, spreading God's word and love in their local environment.
Some communities are dispersed with people living their life in community from their own homes with a commitment to centre their day to day life in the Rule and ethos of the community. Others live together in small houses sharing their calling.
These communities rarely wear special clothing although there is often a small symbol such as a cross or crucifix given to acknowledge a commitment given.