A video news item from the BBC caught my eye this morning. It is a review of the first year of the new monastic experiment for 20-35’s of the St Anselm community initiated and hosted by Archbishop Justin Welby in Lambeth Palace.
As I watched the video I was reminded quite strongly of the period I was working with Youth With A Mission, England running one year-long programmes of discipleship and evangelism, called Operation Year (Op Year for short). We wore less robes and waved our hands in the air more in worship but that was the only major difference I could see in this short piece by the BBC and my experience: the similarities were overwhelming.
Similarities and differences
Starting off with that which is very similar.
- Op Year was for 18-35 year olds.
- Mixture of genders and nationalities
- Lasted one year (!)
- Mixture of training, spiritual development, prayer and outreach work
- Ecumenical (if I understand the t’s & c’s correctly)
- a Sodal community – not a rooted local church (see here)
- The Archbishop (he has initiated St Anselm’s community and is also the Patron of Youth With A Mission, England
- Benefits – both years lead people more deeply rooted in their faith, with a deeper knowledge of who they are, skills for life and ministry and a deeper compassion.
The community of St Anselm is of course different and not the same thing and what immediately springs to mind are:
- Intent – Op Year is run by a missionary organisation and has stronger evangelisation goals. St Anselm seeks to be a monastic community
- Rule of life – St Anselm has a clearly defined rule of life and a stronger rhythm of prayer
- Philosophy of discipleship – this requires a deeper look but I would expect the formation to be more reflective and gently guided. YWAM’s style is more provocative and drives change through passionate inspiration and challenges change and growth. (I believe both approaches equally valid)
- Somewhat cheaper – no cost is mentioned for St Anselm. Op Year charges for board, accommodation and tuition for a year.
- St Anselm is heading into a second year and as far as I know there are no Op Years running.
There are more differences I am certain and I am writing this with scant true knowledge of St Anselm’s (please forgive!) I have recently moved from Youth With A Mission where I had extensive Op Year experience over the years and I am currently an Anglican Ordinand studying for Pioneer ministry.
I am intrigued about the new monastic movement from which I assume that St Anselm’s is drawing inspiration from. I would be very interested in comparing and contrasting and reflecting much more deeply on the tension between the two programmes. I would not have wished to identify with a monastic experience when I was a member and a leader of Op Years, but now I am not too sure if it was not more closely aligned than I could have imagined. I wonder what I will learn as I dig deeper?