A beginning to something new.
Allow me to get real with all of you. Last semester I was sitting in my dorm alone crying. A lot had happened in the past several months that I am sure most of you are tired of hearing about now. I was depressed and traumatized, defeated, sad, I had little optimism or hope that things would get better. I was on the edge of a breakdown, completely ready to give up. I am not exaggerating when saying these things. I’ve since started seeing a therapist to work through some of the heaviness in my heart, and I think that this is part of the testimony that God has given me – a really dark place that I was in that God pulled me out of I can look back to and remember – and even more – empathize with others in the same boat. I am happy I can be open about my experience.
Out of this, a feeling came that was stronger than all the others: loneliness. My empty dorm, an unfamiliar – shut down city, and distance from my friends and family made it feel like I was dealing with everything alone. In this I started to reflect on the church and what it meant to be the church.
I felt like American Protestantism especially was gravitating towards a faith that was individual rather than communal. But that’s a contradiction – there’s not such thing as a Christianity outside of community. God gives us one another. I kept thinking about Moses and Aaron – God could’ve healed Moses’ speech and allowed him to stand and speak before Pharaoh himself. Instead, God gave him a friend – a brother to speak for him. If God did it back then, why are we choosing to ignore the power of these relationships now?
I called Pastor Airgood – one of my close friends I met while interning with him in the Mon Valley. He and I had been talking about our dreams to revitalize and do ministry in the Mon Valley on a more permanent basis since 2019. My love for the Order of Saint Luke drew me to suggest the idea of a monastery – a place where all people who wanted could come to live and do ministry in the community with one another while preparing for the next time in their call. Over the past several months, we have been researching, working on proposals, looking at different properties, checking out grants, talking to faith leaders, etc.
We think that it’s a good idea.
The idea of monasticism is weird for a lot of folks, but I promise, it isn’t. The basic idea is this: All Peoples’ Monastery will serve as a place where monks come and commit for a year of social justice, educational, and hospitality ministry, serving in a ministry area that they feel called by pairing them with local non-profits and community groups. Monks – everyone from gap year students to burnt out clergy - will live by a Rule of Life and Service and engage in spiritual growth and discernment in a group setting – holding possessions in common, working for the common and community good, and living in a way that not only honors Christ, but emulates the life of the early church.
So, we’re going to keep running with this dream. We are still looking for a property to do this in – and it may be a while until we find one or feel like we’re ready to start bringing monks in to do ministry. We don't want to rush into this and we both have things we need to get in order before launching a covenant community. In the meantime, we have decided to launch an online, ecumenical community focused on brining the monastery to life. We need prayer warriors, project-doers, advisors, and donors to guide the process and continually assess the viability of this new community of faith.
If you are interested in joining, helping or staying updated, please send a request to join our Facebook group. You don’t need to be Episcopalian, Methodist, or any other denomination to help us get off the ground. We are hoping to be supported by a number of church and nonprofit groups, with the intent of building a community-minded ecumenical group of siblings.
Welcome to All Peoples’ Monastery.