​Melbourne Anglican couple Rachael and
Jonathan Lopez, who will spend a year at
Lambeth Palace.
 

Melbourne Anglican couple Rachael and Jonathan Lopez will spend a year at Lambeth Palace as part of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s new Community of St Anselm, which will bring together a small group of young Christians from around the world to live in a monastic community of prayer, study and service.

The couple, who met as students at Ridley College and attend St Mark’s Reservoir, said that they were excited about the opportunity to learn from and be shaped by the leader of the Anglican Communion, and draw on the wisdom of the monastics.

The community will be made up of 16 full time residents, as well as around 40 Londoners who will take part in a non-residential program that invites them to integrate the ancient monastic Rule of Life into everyday life and work.

Residential members will be accommodated in the old servant’s quarters at Lambeth Palace, and part of community life will be cleaning, cooking, gardening and growing fruit and vegetables.

“It’ll be more the downstairs than the upstairs in Downton Abbey,” joked Rachael.

Daily life will include silence, Bible reading, prayer and worship, Eucharist, and time for private study. There will also be regular input from guest speakers, retreats, and a day a week of service through local charities and agencies working with the poor and marginalised.

As an extrovert and something of an exercise junkie, Jonathan said that one of the biggest challenges for him would be learning to switch off and adjust to the periods of silence that would form part of the daily rhythm of life in the community.

Rachael said, “At home I’ve got Netflix, Facebook, Instagram, my mind is buzzing all the time. We’ve come to this point where we’re so used to being entertained we don’t know what happens when you’re just there in a room and it’s silent. It’s going to take a while for me to adjust to that sort of lifestyle.”

Both looked forward to the opportunity to deepen their prayer life.

“That’s the biggest area that I want to break through in,” said Rachel. “If you’re in a monastic community and this period of time has been allocated to pray, you can’t put it off. I love that there’s morning and evening prayer as part of the program, but also time for individual prayer, praying together in groups, praying with your spiritual accompanier. Jonathan and I will also pray together. So it’s not just one type of prayer.”

Jonathan said, “Prayer’s a big part of my life, and I think exposure to other expressions of prayer and spirituality will expand my knowledge of the ways in which you can pray.”

The couple said they anticipated that the experience would help to shape them in their future lives and in ministry.

Rachael said, “Together through this time we can make some decisions about how we spend our time, how we spend our money. We can be making decisions about how we’re going to live our lives, and have our Christian faith involved in every decision we make.”

Jonathan, who is a candidate for ordination, said, “They may have already sourced us [for this program] in regard to our giftings and what we’re already good at in ministry, but the focus will also be to stretch us in areas that we’re not as comfortable in.”

They said that they had received tremendous support from their parish and from the Diocese of Melbourne, including Archbishop Freier.

“We’ve been really blessed by that support from the diocese,” said Jonathan. “We want to ask people to keep praying for us and for what God might have in store for our time away, but also in the future.”

The program starts in September.

Jonathan and Rachael are raising $60,000 towards the Community of St Anselm and are looking for support from churches and individuals. A Supporter Evening will be at Ridley College on 20 July. To book, or to sign up for their monthly email list, visit http://lopezlambeth.wix.com/home
 

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