The summer of 2009, a group of Episcopal Women with a vision for a nonresidential avowed life, joined together to begin making their vision a reality. Realizing their Episcopal heritage sprang from The Benedictine Rule and was enhanced by the Baptismal Covenant, they began to create a Rule of Life and a format for a life formed by the Rule and Covenant, and structured for systematic annual accountability.
They chose Jane Tomaine’s book, “St Benedict’s Tool Box” as their preparatory study, crafting a study guide to help guide future members along their journey, with the aid of a personal mentor. In February 2010, The Episcopal Community was incorporated. Officers elected, a National Chaplain appointed, as well as a National Spiritual Advisor. With these positions in place, their request to be recognized by the Presiding Bishop was granted. The journey was begun and continues to gather others into this nurturing life discipline.
The founding members formed this new organization for women in the Episcopal Church. They wanted a clear connection and accountability to the Episcopal Church, and they also wanted more accountability for members as they live out their vows. And one of the members said, “We’re not out proselytizing for members; we are here quietly. In my diocese which is Tennessee there’s only one other person that’s a member and one in study.”
These women look to The Episcopal Community for a sense of connection with other women during their faith journey. “To be able to come together with this group and have these women be a part of my life is very important to me. These women are following the path along with me.”
Another member said, “It’s living out the Baptismal Covenant in your daily life, agreeing to follow the vows that were taken as a child, that you reaffirmed at confirmation and now you’re reaffirming to live your life that way.”
Besides prayer and formation, the group is committed to service. The group has established three funds: the St. Clare of Assisi fund to assist women and children of poverty, the St. Mary Magdalene fund to provide assistance to members in need, and a Tribute Fund to honor others.
The Community will be providing a Prayer Garden at the General Convention in Indianapolis as a quiet retreat from the business of convention. The National Chaplain, The Rt. Rev. Phillip Duncan, speaking of General Convention and the Prayer Garden said, “It is a valuable ministry providing an opportunity to go in and if I’m having a particular concern that I would like others to pray about, I can have people intentionally do that – it is a place of quiet at General Convention, a place to meditate or pray.”
Potential members complete a six-month study using the book St. Benedict’s Toolbox: The Nuts and Bolts of Every Day Benedictine Living by The Rev. Jane Tomaine.
In addition to learning about Benedictine spirituality, the group’s leaders were excited about how “it focused on the present moment and finding God in the ordinary, staying connected with people, listening for God, the form of hospitality, the infusion of the holy into what we do when we work,” said Jane Tomaine.
And in keeping with the community’s goals, Tomaine noted the book is grounded in the baptismal covenant, and the Episcopal tradition is rooted in Benedictine spirituality.
This is adapted by Patti Joy Posan from a May 20, 2011 ENS article by Sharon Sherida