We are not building a Mission Abbey so that we can become something we have not already been, but so we can grow into more of what God has already created us to be. To say we hope to build a Mission Abbey is to say that our intention is to develop our property as an outgrowth of the mission we currently live out: “to share in the life of God for the life of the world.”
Abbey speaks to a community devoted to the contemplative tradition, spiritual formation, immersion in Scripture, and rhythms of rest, worship, and prayer—thus, “sharing in the life of God.” Mission speaks to a community devoted to action, equipping one another for ministry, and working together to make an impact on the world around us—thus, “for the life of the world.”
During our Season of Discernment in the Spring of this year, we were invited to listen to how the Spirit might impress upon us various ideas, visions, and dreams for how we can continue to nurture our common life together toward a Mission Abbey. The response was huge as these imaginations were collected in booklet form and shared with our parish family. From these dreams, we extracted certain key ministry areas that are now the focus of our Fall Pastorate season.
These Mission Abbey Pastorates (small groups) are designed to water the seeds of our Mission Abbey vision as people study, strategize, and look for ways to stir up those dreams and imaginations that resonate with our parish. Keep in mind that these Pastorates are not exhaustive of our current ministries or our future vision, but rather they represent areas that currently could use more energy and planning. Each Pastorate will generally share the same five-week outline designed to lay the ground work for things to grow in the months and years to come.
Be sure to sign up for a Pastorate that not only excites you, but also one that explores an area you see yourself participating in beyond the five-week Pastorate, though you are not locked in to a long- term commitment by signing up for one. Our Mission Abbey Pastorates will begin mid- September, and most of them will meet every other week for five weeks. Dates, times, hosts, and facilitators to be determined.
GARDENS AND SOFT SPACES
Numerous people wrote on their response cards how much they resonate with the idea of developing our Mission Abbey in ways that create outdoor spaces of beauty and contemplation. As we prepare to relocate our current vegetable and flower gardens, enhance our Stations of the Cross and prayer labyrinth, and design additional meditative spaces, this Pastorate will help us develop a plan for these outside areas to ensure we develop them thoughtfully and in good time.
We want our Mission Abbey to serve other ministries, to be a place where organizations that share a heart for God’s kingdom can find space to meet. Currently, our existing building is used for adoption training (ASAP), staff meetings for other organizations, play therapy for local social workers, AA groups, and various community forums. Our hope is to increase these types of kingdom partnerships, but we need a group of people helping us network and recruit other non-profits who could benefit from our space.
NURTURING OUR MENTAL HEALTH
All Saints is blessed to have so many who are trained in and passionate about mental health. Occasionally, our church has hosted various forums on some aspect of mental health or addiction, but in a time when at least one in every four people suffer from some kind of mental illness, can we do more? We want to be a church that creates a safe space for people to talk about and explore issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, grief, past trauma, and loneliness—a place where people don’t have to suffer in silence? What other mental health services and resources can we as a church provide to our community?
THE ORDER OF ST. LUKE
For the last few years, several people from All Saints have been exploring and practicing the ministry of healing prayer, a ministry we hope will expand in the life of our church. One possible way to strengthen these efforts is to form a chapter for the Order of St. Luke, an inter-denominational religious order dedicated to the Christian healing ministry. This relationship would not only provide us with further resources, but would also connect us to similar-hearted people outside the doors of All Saints.
We desire that our Mission Abbey is always sending us out to do the work God has given us to do, which is why we call it a Mission Abbey. While there are many different outreach ministries we participate in as a parish, both local and international, our people need to learn more about them and how they might get involved. Our Mission Abbey would benefit greatly from a team of people devoted to creating and implementing a strategy that would not only promote these ministries, but also recruit people to them.
RECOVERING THE CELTIC WAY OF DOING MISSION
Our Mission Abbey vision is both rooted in our Mission & Personality as well as adapted from ancient elements of monastic care and community, particularly from our Celtic forebears. The Celtic Christian movement multiplied mission-sending monastic communities, which developed and deployed teams to multiply churches, eventually reaching both England and much of mainland Europe. As church planting is integral to our Mission Abbey vision, this group will serve these efforts as we aim to become one day a hub for church planting throughout West Tennessee.
RENEWING THE MIND
Several folks from our parish recognized how critical it is for us to cultivate the life of the mind as we share in the life of God for the life of the world. How might we better help people think critically about the pressing issues of our day? How might we better train our people to think theologically about all aspects of life? We envision a team of people who will develop a strategy for addressing these types of questions, perhaps even with an eye toward forming some sort of institute in the future here at All Saints.
RHYTHMS OF PRAYER
Above all, an Abbey is a house of prayer. While we periodically offer Morning and Evening Prayer at All Saints, our hope is to be a place that offers a wide variety of prayer opportunities: Benedictine prayer, centering prayer, intercessory prayer, and more from our prayer book’s Daily Office. We envision training a team of officiants who schedule and lead our Mission Abbey in constant rhythms of prayer.