Who we are
So what are we? Lifting quite happily from the English theological writer Kenneth Leech, the following list of descriptors should give a sense of what we are about.
- saint benedict’s table is first and foremost a eucharistic worshipping community. Not only do we share each Sunday night in the bread and wine of communion, we are eucharistic in the sense that we are defined by our common life in the Body of Christ.
- saint benedict’s table strives to be a baptismal community, meaning that not only do we practice baptism but also that we understand ourselves to be called to live out the life of a transformed and alternative people.
- saint benedict’s table understands itself to be a biblical community, in which scripture is prayed and digested.
- saint benedict’s table is a community of rational inquiry; a zone in which truth is sought and heard, and in which dissent and dialogue are embraced as part of the process of discernment.
- saint benedict’s table is a community open to artistic and creative ways of truth-seeking, and so we embrace the vocation of the artist as being central to our common life.
- saint benedict’s table is discerning a call to becoming a community of expectation, restlessness, imagination and vision. We experience ourselves as a community of Advent spirituality: always on the hinge between the old and the new, the known and the unknown to which God is drawing us.
- saint benedict’s table continues to seek ways to rise to the challenge to be an inclusive gospel community, steadily asking the question, “Who is left out?”
We are positioned within the Anglican tradition, which for us is less about denominational labels or institutional jurisdiction—though we do exist as a congregation of the Diocese of Rupert’s Land—and more about being rooted in rich spiritual, liturgical and theological soil. This is the same soil that nurtured C.S. Lewis and T.S.Eliot, John Donne and George Herbert, Dorothy Sayers and Madeleine L’Engle and Desmond Tutu and countless others. Theologians and poets, musicians and novelists, reformers and rebels… all somehow linked through a tradition of breadth and depth and even the occasional controversy. It is good soil; the kind that gets embedded right into the skin on your hands as you work in it.
At a critical point in Western history, just as the old order that had been the Roman empire was breathing its last tired breath, Benedict of Nursia surfaced with a vision for community. And he did it almost by accident. Disillusioned with the world of academia in what was looking to be an increasingly decaying society, Benedict dropped out of school and left town. He went into the wilderness, found himself a quiet cave, and prepared to spend a life simply listening in prayerful silence for the voice of God.
The thing is, they wouldn’t leave him alone. First by the ones and twos, and eventually by the hundreds, other young men went out to that wilderness place to sit with Benedict and to seek God in the silence. So many, in fact, that he had to give some structure to their common life, eventually producing the “Rule of St Benedict” to govern community life in a rhythm of prayer, work, hospitality, learning, feasting and fasting. Balance. Boundaries. Safety. Accountability. The communities that continued to be formed around this Rule long after Benedict’s death kept alive a model—an alternative model—for human life in very, very difficult times. He seems to us a good mentor for our own times.
And the table? Our life is formed around the communion table, but also nurtured over various tables of hospitality and conversation. Most obviously there is the coffee table at the back of our worship space, but there are also all those tables in cafes and pubs and restaurants and homes where community is built, faith shared, and questions asked.