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Conferences

Franciscans and friends at the Kirchentag in Berlin and Wittenburg – 24 – 28th May 2017

Br Hugh; Br Micael Christoffer; Br Robert; Dörte

Brs Robert, Micael Cristoffer, Hugh were joined by Darius and Dörte, present and past volunteers respectively at Hilfield from the church in the Rhineland at this four day event which the Evangelical – Lutheran – Church holds in a different German city every 2 years. This year Berlin and Wittenburg had been chosen as it is the 500th Anniversary of the start of Luther’s reformation. We were part of over 100,000 people attending. Brothers, both British and German have attended over the years but this was the first time we had gone as a group with an official stall.

Our stall, with a display in both English and German, was open from Wed 24th May till Sat 27th. We had been placed by a main entrance into our enormous hall, the market of opportunities, only one of several similar halls in the Messe, the Expo Centre. During the week we could sample only a fraction of the other stalls, and even less of the city wide events, even though some were translated or in English. Many people were intrigued by the existence of Anglican Franciscans in England and many stopped to talk. It was really good to have three native German speakers among us; nevertheless many visitors to our stall spoke sufficient English so all of us could participate. We gave out hundreds of Franciscan magazines and leaflets, and invited many to visit us, or even to join us. It was very hot, and we gave out lots of cups of tea too.

We also renewed contacts with some members of German communities and orders, as well as meeting some TSSF who were visiting from the UK, and a number of theological students with excellent English.

L-R: Br Robert; Darius; Br Hugh; Br Micael Christoffer

The pictures show our stall, which we staffed in shifts while the others explored elsewhere; the opening service (in which Justin Welby spoke) was held at the Bundestag. We heard Barak Obama and Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, speaking to thousands the next day, in the Kirchentag tradition of politicians being involved, and various outside musical events. We spent a lot of time travelling on trams and buses round Berlin between the school where we slept to the east of the centre, and the Expo Centre to the west; so different to when I last visited in 1983 – there are now very few traces of the wall left.

Luther and family?

Robert and Micael spent the final Sunday at Wittenburg, Luther’s town, and only 50 mins by train from Berlin, at an enormous celebration.

We are already looking forward to the next Kirchentag in 2019.

The Bundestag

Martin Luther with one of his Swedish sons!

The final celebration in Wittenburg

Church of the Poor? Franciscans at the Church Action on Poverty Conference

Br Robert writes:

On the 19th of November, Church Action on Poverty (CAP) gathered its supporters for its annual conference at the Unitarian Cross Street Chapel in Manchester. Among them were two First Order Brothers and two Tertiaries one of whom, Helen Hood TSSF, serves  as one of the Trustees. It was also a nice surprise to bump into Brother Fabian nCR. As it turns out, we are not the only Anglican religious community supporting CAP!

img_0021CAP felt inspired by Pope Francis, who recently said: ‘How I wish, that there was a church of the poor.’ We started by listening to poetry, which was created in a local Creative Writing Project, where people could articulate the joys and frustrations of their lives. Then various different groups and people were given a chance, to give presentations: contributions ranged from a congregation who had opened their door to the homeless, a Baptist Minister who founded an alternative church in an area of deprivation and an Evangelical Pastor who presented his research on the ‘Myth of the undeserving Poor.’ Following this we broke into round table groups discussing how we could transform our churches into places of and for the poor.

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Lunch was a good opportunity to meet and catch up with people. In the afternoon, we saw a panel discussion deepening our conversation, followed by more round table discussions and a final plenum. At that point, it was time for the AGM and about half of the audience discretely sneaked away. It felt like an enriching day, at which the Franciscan presence was well appreciated. We are looking forward to a growing partnership between SSF and CAP.

General Chapter

From Monday 7th September until Friday 11th September the majority of Sisters and Brothers from the First Order of the Society of St Francis met in the King’s Park Conference Centre (Northampton) for the General Chapter. The theme for this General Chapter was engaging with people of non-Christian Faiths and we had the great privilege of meeting people from the Buddhist, Jewish and Muslim Faiths. On Tuesday morning Fr Damian Howard SJ delivered a most interesting lecture on Islam suggesting that we should not be afraid to engage our Muslim friends and neighbours in conversation about our Faiths. In the afternoon we heard a thought provoking lecture on Buddhism given by Ajahn Amaro who is the Abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery. On Wednesday morning Dr Jane Williams gave two sessions on two meditations on passages of Scripture which suggest a possible framework for co-operation with people of other faiths and then on Wednesday afternoon two expeditions were organised, one to Amaravati Buddhist Monastery and the other to the Benedictine Monastery in Turvey. On Thursday morning we were introduced by Professor David Ford to the practice of ‘Scriptural Reasoning‘ (a way of discussing comparable passages of Scripture with people of other Faiths) and were then able to observe a Scriptural Reasoning session being conducted by Christians, Jews and Muslims. On Thursday evening we were fortunate to be joined by our Bishop Protector (Bishop Stephen Cottrell of the Diocese of Chelmsford) who celebrated Mass with us an delivered an entertaining and challenging sermon.

Sr Sue CSF, Sr Damien OSC, Brs Christian and Hugh SSF with Julie Siddiqui

Sr Sue CSF, Sr Damien OSC, Brs Christian and Hugh SSF with Julie Siddiqui

Sr Chris, Brs Jason and Malcolm sharing a cup of tea with Imam Ibrahim Mogra

Sr Chris, Brs Jason and Malcolm sharing a cup of tea with Imam Ibrahim Mogra

‘Being present with the delightful and the difficult!’

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Anglican Novice Guardian Conference 30th June-3rd July
Title: ‘Being present with the the delightful and the difficult

This was held at St Mary’s abbey, West Malling. Br Amos and I together with 7 others took part.
Chris Cullen who is a mindfulness teacher and psychotherapist gave the input and shared with us mindfulness techniques, which were very helpful. It was a valuable and thought provoking day and we all wanted to learn more and build on what he had taught us.
The remainder of the time was spent planning the study programme for the novices 2016-2017 and other business. This annual conference gives us time to be together and opportunity to share and  learn from each other, as well as pray with the Community where we stay.
Beverley CSF

“The Consecrated Life in the Anglican Tradition and the Ecumenical Journey” – Br Clark Berge SSF

Br Clark Berge SSF

Br Clark Berge SSF

Brother Clark Berge, SSF Minister General, recently presented a  paper  “The Consecrated Life in the Anglican Tradition and the Ecumenical Journey” at an Ecumenical Symposium on the Year of the Consecrated Life.  This event held in the Vatican City from 22-25 January was part of a programme of events to mark The Year of the Consecrated Life proclaimed by Pope Francis and  running from Advent 2014 until Candlemas 2016.   Brother Desmond Alban SSF and Sister Joyce CSF also attended with other Anglican Religious.
The text of Clark’s paper is available from the ‘Wider Picture’ page on the website or by clicking here.

Understanding Islam at Hilfield.

FrancisSultan
The present crisis in Syria and Iraq, and anxieties about international terrorism, are heightening fear and prejudice in our own western culture about Muslims and the religion of Islam to which the terms violence and extremism are often attached. If we are to live peaceably and justly in the multi-cultural society that we find ourselves today it is important to have a broader view of the religion of Islam than that of the violence and brutality of the forces of the so-called Islamic State. Fear and hatred between people of different religions and cultures comes about as a result of ignorance or partial understanding of what the religions and cultures are about; it is easy to portray or fit ‘the other’ into one’s misunderstanding and so reinforce the fears – at this time, particularly, of Muslims.

Chris HewerDr Chris Hewer, who led a course at the Friary in October entitled ‘Understanding Islam’, is a Christian theologian who has thirty years of experience studying Islam and engaging with Muslims. While remaining firmly rooted in his own tradition, Chris gives a knowledgeable and sympathetic introduction to the subject, explaining the history of Islam, the place of the prophet Mohammed and of the Koran, and of the world views and ways of life of Muslims today. The 3 day course at Hilfield was attended by people from different parts of the UK, including some Muslims from Dorset. Wisdom was shared, mutual respect was established and friendships were made. All religions are definitely not the same but we can live peaceably and hospitably with each other through understanding and humility before each other and under God.

Interfaith Conference in Turkey.

Kentigern recently attended a conference on Inter faith and ecumenical dialogue hosted by the Roman Catholic Franciscans (OFM) in Istanbul.  As part of the conference the group visited some of the ‘Seven Churches of Revelation’ in Anatolia. There is a report of the Conference here

Members of the Group standing outside a rare Mughal-influenced Mosque in Istanbul

Members of the Group standing outside a rare Mughal-influenced Mosque in Istanbul

Members of the group standing in front of the Hagia Sophia (formerly the Patriarchal Cathedral of Constantinople and Imperial Mosque of Mehmet II)

Members of the group standing in front of the Hagia Sophia (formerly the Patriarchal Cathedral of Constantinople and Imperial Mosque of Mehmet II)

Br Kentigern in the Hagia Sophia

Br Kentigern in the Hagia Sophia

Br Kentigern at the ruins in Pergamon (Temple of Trajan)

Br Kentigern at the ruins in Pergamon (Temple of Trajan)

Religious Superiors’ Conference 2014

Br Benedict SSF, Sr Sue CSF and Sr Damien OSC attended the conference for Community Leaders earlier this month. The conference was held in Mirfield and hosted by the Community of the Resurrection.

 

The Community Leaders in the Community Church at Mirfield.

The Community Leaders in the Community Church at Mirfield.

First Professed Conference at Wantage.

Sisters and Brothers in First Profession met at the Convent of St Mary the Virgin in Wantage from Monday 15th September

The First Professed Brothers and Sisters.

The First Professed Brothers and Sisters.

until Friday 19th September. Over the three days we discussed using art as a form of prayer; Meister Eckhart and the Camino de Santiago. In addition there was plenty of time for reflection and we received a warm and generous welcome from the Sisters of the Community.

 

Franciscan Responses to Poverty – 13th – 17th January 2014

On Monday January 13th Sisters and Brother began to arrive in Alnmouth for the ‘Franciscan Responses to Poverty’ Conference (organised as part of the ‘ongoing formation’ initiative). On Tuesday we were joined by Steve Forster and Liz Chadwick of ‘Together Newcastle’ who described some of the ways the current situation affects our near neighbours. As part of the day we were challenged to budget effectively for a family of four on a reduced income; a very difficult if not impossible task. On Wednesday Dr John Hughes (Chaplain of Jesus College Cambridge) gave a wonderful presentation on the response of Church leaders (and in particular Popes Francis and Benedict and Archbishops Justin and Rowan) to the global economic crisis. During the presentation he suggested that there is a great need for those responsible for economic praxis to give due regard to the effect it has on the poorest members of our society. Economics needs to be ‘grounded’ in the reality of life. On Thursday Averil Swanton TSSF joined us to talk about the work of Franciscans International who are already challenging poverty and injustice throughout the world.

One group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Liz)

One group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Liz)

 

 

A group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Steve)

A group attempting to budget for a family of four on a reduced income (with Steve)

 

 

Br John introduces John Hughes

Br John introduces John Hughes

 

 

Br Hugh and Averil Swanton τSSF

Br Hugh and Averil Swanton τSSF

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Internovitiate Conference

On Monday 7th January Novices from as far North as Whitby, as far West as Ty Mawr and as far South as Canterbury converged upon the Convent of the Sisters of the Love of God in Oxford. For three glorious days we sat at the feet (metaphorically!) of Dr Peta Dunstan of Cambridge University – the acknowledged expert in the history of Anglican Religious Life – as she imparted some of her knowledge and enthusiasm to us. What became very clear during our first visit to Littlemore (where John Henry Newman, later Cardinal Newman, established a small Religious Community) was that there was a distinctively Anglican way of being a Religious, a way which unites the best parts of the Anglican Tradition of scholarship, prayer and liturgy with the more ancient inheritance of our Monastic Tradition(s). This was a very clear demonstration of what might be called ‘Anglican Patrimony.’ As part of the conference we also visited Parish Churches (St Barnabas Jericho and St Mary the Virgin); former Religious Houses (St Stephen’s House and Nashdom); places of learning and scholarship (Littlemore and Pusey House) and current Religious Houses (All Saints, Fairacres and the Sisters of the Precious Blood) and were encouraged to see them all as part of the inheritance of the Oxford Movement and the teaching of Dr Pusey. It was not, of course, ‘all work’ and we enjoyed meeting our fellow Novices and spending time with them, reflecting together on our experience thus far of Religious Life. This was all held in the embrace of the prayer life of the Sisters of the Love of God and the All Saints Sisters who welcomed us warmly and who allowed us to join with them in the offering of the daily office and Eucharist.

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Franciscan Mission Charism

Mount Kinabulu

Sr Jenny Tee writes:

87 Franciscans gathered in Sabah (Malaysia) recently for a seminar on the Franciscan Mission Charism. In lectures, discussions, worship,meals and informal times together, we learned from our Franciscan sources and from one another’s experience. We came from many countries in Asia, Oceania and further afield, and were wonderfully looked after by The Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception at their Retreat Centre in a beautiful part of Borneo.

CSF Tea Break! Srs Jemma (Korea) & Jenny Tee (UK)

Rapahel Suh SSF & Jemma CSF in discussion with other Korean participants

The group were welcomed by the local parish to their hillside chapel for the Eucharist

 

Sisters meeting 2012

Francis and Clare image

The Sisters gathered around their creation

The tree of life

 

This interesting interpretation (on the top left) of a picture of Francis and Clare was one of the products of the recent Sisters’ Meeting. Each of the 16 sisters present was given, by the facilitator, one small portion of the whole picture, which at that stage we had not seen. They varied from a complex part of the face, to a small part of the border. On a larger sheet of card, each then scaled up their portion, and coloured it, trying to match the existing colours as far as possible.When all the pieces were put together we were amazed to see how our different abilities and interpretations had all contributed to the finished picture, and how well the pieces fitted together. It became a visual parable of how we, in all our diversity, could contribute fruitfully to the ‘bigger picture’ of our life as CSF in this province.
Another exercise we enjoyed during our weekend involved the ‘Tree of Life (pictured top right). ‘Ruth, our facilitator, told us the moving story of this silver tree. She is a school chaplain, and invites the children to place a red jewel on a silver leaf when someone (person or pet) dies. One particularly poignant leaf has 2 jewels, placed by a child whose parents were murdered.

Ruth then invited us to write, in one sentence, what the tree symbolised for us. When all our reflections were put together, this amazing poem (below) was created:

A silver tree glitters with grief and memory Tree of acknowledgement Tree of pain and tree of hope Gift of love. The tree of remembrance is a tree of life and relationship A structure which enables people to express and record what is important to them, and allows all to honour this. The pain of loss is held in the Tree of Life’s embrace Important symbolism conveying what words cannot. Out of the darkness of sadness comes the light of God As the last leaf flutters so the living leave their loved ones, flying in ethereal luminance Each leaf separate, but part of the whole beautiful shape of the tree, reflecting light and colour. Leaves hang down, flames reach up, circular movement, life continuing Here is refracted life Holding the complexity of life’s joys and sorrows. Candle heat causes the leaves to move with life – symbol of eternal life – remember them and they are still alive. The jewelled leaves on the tree say – Pain acknowledged, like the wounds of Christ can become glorious scars things of beauty, enlightened by the candles of warm support.

The Big Green Believers’ Agreement

Members of Dorset faith communities sign up to the Big Green Believers’ Agreement in the Bournmouth Reform Synagogue, November 29th 2011

   
Members of Dorst faith communites: Br Hugh back row left; Rabbi Neil, front left and Beccy from the Hilfield Community signing up on behalf of A Rocha.
Brother Hugh SSF signs the document
Brother Hugh SSF writes:
Rabbi Neil Amswych of Bournemouth Reform Synagogue has brought together a group of over 80 faith representatives from Dorset, including us at Hilfield. We are now part of Interfaith Dorset Education and Action, an interfaith group primarily focused on the environment. IDEA has two simple goals – to educate people about the challenges facing the environment, as well as to educate them in the responses by the different faith traditions, and to act on that learning by making positive changes in our lives.After a series of meetings around Dorset, we have created the Big Green Believers’ Agreement, with an online forum and a list of short, medium and long term commitments we can make, on buildings, consumption, food, social justice, transport, waste and biodiversity. These commitments can be local, educational, political or spiritual. E.g. under biodiversity, at Hilfield we have already fulfilled the short term commitment to put up bird boxes, but have not yet watched the film, ‘The end of the line’, on the destruction caused by fishing. Under buildings we have put silver foil behind many of our radiators (at least against outside walls) and have just put up a chapel roof full of pv panels, but we have not yet done much to encourage prayer as a low carbon activity. Under food, we have done well to use (well mostly) only fairly traded tea and coffee, and have at least one meat free day each week, but have not yet campaigned to stop palm oil being misleadingly labelled as vegetable oil. On social justice we have questioned our local MP (on tax dodging) and we have included issues of the environment in worship, but we have not yet studied issues of fuel poverty.

Last November three Hilfield community members joined representatives of many faith groups in signing the agreement. On 18th March two of us went to a celebration in Bournemouth, with an environmental quiz and a game where 20 of us became a forest, each of us a species from butterfly to oak, and with string we wove a web of our mutual relationships. For more information look at the eco-faith.org website.