Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Justin Welby: Religious communities are seeing a revival

The Archbishop of Canterbury has commended the growing interest and participation in religious communities in the UK. 

He said young people are both joining established and new religious communities.
 “We are witnessing a revival of interest in community life in its different forms: celibate and non-celibate, communal and dispersed, traditional and experimental," Most Rev Justin Welby wrote in the Church Times.

 The archbishop said this revival comes after a report published a decade ago gave a very bleak outlook on the growth of religious communities. Declining membership and rising average ages were a few factors that predicted a “meltdown”. 

 “That is why, as we take stock at this moment, we can rejoice that God has had very different ideas,” Archbishop Justin added.

Speaking on Premier Christian Radio's News Hour, Simon Lewis - the Dean of St Anselm's Community at Lambeth Palace - explained what it's like having a religious community of young people: "I've just been sat...with the nearly 20 young people we have with us, talking about our rule of life, talking about unity...and I'm just absolutely bowled over by that call to come together - even though they disagree, even though we've got 10 or 11 different nationalities, different church confessions of all different persuasions. 

"I think something that we see is this sense for young people, I suppose particularly maybe people in that millennial generation who have felt dislocated, they've grown up in a society in which actually it doesn't matter which part you come from...they're actually seeing more and more that their families aren't spending that time together, they aren't living in community."

Lewis also mentioned the fear of commitment that Archbishop Justin spoke of: "I think we're well aware that maybe some of the challenges that faced religious communities were that they faced the perception that they were immediately a life-long commitment and obviously, for a slightly commitment-phobic generation, that was just slightly too possibly imagine - but what's really interesting is we're seeing in the community of St. Anselm and within other communities that we're establishing is that they're becoming stepping stones to more traditional orders as well. So, maybe not for everybody! But for at least one or two each year, they're going to explore much more life-long commitment."

Listen to the full interview with Simon Lewis here:

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