Multigeneration Urban Minster Ministry

Picture an urban minster church (not necessarily as big as Beverley Minster, of course) with both a school and a retirement community annexed to it. With resident canons, resident elderly folk, and students all living out their lives in the same place, I imagine this could be a very humane arrangement, a blessing to all three groups.

Benedictine Priory of St Gregory’s, Downside, near Bath, by Augustus Pugin (1812–52). Source: Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture, facing p. 110. Scanned image and text by George P. Landow.

Benedictine Priory of St Gregory’s, Downside, near Bath, by Augustus Pugin (1812–52). Source: Present State of Ecclesiastical Architecture, facing p. 110. Scanned image and text by George P. Landow.

The canons, of course, would be leaders of the daily round of Morning and Evening Prayer, but they would also have a lay congregation of some old and some young: thus the office would be publicly recited day by day. The elderly folk would have a clear mission, like the prophetess Anna, to devote their days to prayer and wisdom, and not (as is the case for some) to the dissipation of Las Vegas; they could also help keep the minster church open during the day by watching it to prevent thefts. The students, meanwhile, would conduct their studies in the context of prayer, not isolated in an academic bubble but learning in the presence of others living Christian lives structured by prayer.

And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers. The retirement community and the school would be knitted together as one. Prayer and the mission of the school would be a large part of the activities of many of the elderly; the students, for their part, would have their school experience enhanced by the presence of elderly folk, both to learn from and to serve with reverence. Yes, the elderly helpers could assist with the mundane tasks of photocopying documents for teachers and administrators, but more importantly, having the gravitas of age, they would take part in watching the students and teaching them to be intellectually honest, God-fearing Christians: they might help teach them their catechisms, guide them in prayer and study, and lead extracurricular clubs. As helpers in the primary grades, they might read to children in the library, and the children might read to them too. All this could be edifying for the students and fulfilling for the elderly folk.

With children around, the elders could be happier; and with them around, the children could be wiser. With students at the school, parents connected to the minster church by their tithes and attendance, and grandparents perhaps living in the retirement community, three generations of the Church would share their lives with a sense of their Christian mission. The minster would be a school of piety for each generation, and for the Church as a whole. Has anyone done this before?

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4 responses to “Multigeneration Urban Minster Ministry

  1. Pingback: Minster Churches for Large Congregations | Cogito, Credo, Petam

  2. Pingback: Collegiate Leaven | Cogito, Credo, Petam

  3. Pingback: Eliot and Benedictine Renewal | Cogito, Credo, Petam

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