New intentional communities are springing up in the U.S. among evangelicals that differ from their counterparts of a generation or two ago by their use of traditional spiritual and monastic practices in order to structure community life, reports Christianity Today (September).
A movement called the “new monasticism” is made up of young single evangelicals increasingly dissatisfied with their suburban megachuches and feeling a call to live and work with the poor and homeless. The communities they have established are similar to those created by left evangelicals of a generation ago, such as Sojourners and Reba Place Mennonite Fellowship, but include such practices as contemplation.
A 2004 conference near Duke University officially marked the beginning of the movement, where members drew up a voluntary rule for their diverse communities and met and consulted with the older communities. Among these rules or distinctives that would mark the communities were accountability to the wider church, living with the poor, hospitality, care for creation, racial reconciliation and celibacy or monogamous marriage.
There are reported to be “dozens” of these new monastic communities around the U.S., with the most prominent being the Simple Way in Kensington, Pennsylvania and Camden House in New Jersey. The Simple Way bought and rehabilitated a building that was used for selling drugs and now works with the homeless through community development and even political protest.
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