2023 NAECC Leadership Conference in Pallottine
Twenty-two members of the National Association of Episcopal Christian Communities (NAECC) representing 12 different communities met for their annual leaders meeting at the Pallottine Center in Florissant, MO May 8-12.
According to NAECC President the Rev. Masud Ibn Syedullah, TSSF, the members gathered for Evening Prayer on Monday May 8, and then began each morning before breakfast in small groups with Lectio Divina. Masud gave a president’s address on Tuesday, noting that “we are at a new time in our history, given that the General Convention - for the first time - authorized a Religious Life Sunday on the 3rd Sunday after the Epiphany.” The first one was this year. Masud said the establishment of a Sunday to acknowledge and celebrate religious communities within the Episcopal Church provides a new window of opportunity for religious communities to make themselves known and offer the Church a vast range of resources to support the life and mission of the Church. He invited the members of NAECC to begin to earnestly use this window of opportunity to think outside of the box regarding ways they can publicize their presence and offer their gifts and talents to the Church. He noted that communication about and within NAECC is important, and he suggested the communities gathered begin with the website. He said that the website is NAECC’s major electronic way of communicating.
Discussions about the future continued throughout the week, along with a daily Eucharist celebrated by NAECC members, including Masud, the Rev. Canon Beth Tjoflat, LSSC and the Rev. Kate Maxwell, OSB. The preachers were the Rev. Canon Peter Stube, TSSF, Mtr Kate and Br. Ronald A. Fox, BSG.
At the business meeting, Bill Farra, SCC, was re-elected treasurer. The Community of Dorothy the Worker was approved to move from “Observer” status to “Associate” membership. NAECC has three categories of membership - communities recognized by the House of Bishops Committee on Religious Life, communities seeking recognition and communities not seeking canonical recognition. A relatively new community in the Diocese of Long Island, the Franciscan Community of Compassion, was approved for associate membership. Three friars from the Order of St. Francis attended for the first time.
Communities represented included Anamchara Fellowship, the Benedictine Priory of St. Mary, the Brotherhood of St. Gregory, Society of the Community of Celebration, Community of Francis and Clare, Community of the Mother of Jesus, Community of the Gospel, the Little Sisters of St. Clare, the Rivendell Community, the Third Order, Province of the Americas, Society of St. Francis, Companions of Dorothy the Worker and the Order of St. Francis.
NAECC and the Conference of Anglican Religious Orders in the Americas (CAROA) had met jointly for a number of years, but CAROA had specific items of interest pertaining to traditional communities that needed to be discussed and met separately. For now, the two organizations will meet on their own “for the foreseeable future,” but will continue a strong working relationship with the executive committees, various committee work and regional gatherings.
Q: What is the process for forming a Christian Community?
NAECC created a Formation Committee to answer this very common question. Their work produced A Guide to Starting A New Christian Community. You can use this document as a resource when discerning the formation of a community and as a general guide. You can also reach out to any of the member communities of NAECC for further information, resources and prayer.
Q: What is a Rule of Life?
A Rule of life is absolutely essential to any monastic life. It says ‘this is who we are, this is our story’; and it reminds us of those things God has put on our hearts, calling us back to our foundations. The idea of a Rule of life developed in Christian monastic communities, and indeed, monasteries and convents today still function under a Rule, the best-known of which is that of St Benedict, dating from the 6th century. Monastic stability is based on accountability to the Rule of life; it serves as a framework for freedom – not as a set of rules that restrict or deny life, but as a way of living out our vocation alone and together. It is rooted in Scripture, pointing always to Christ; and, in the words of St Benedict, it is ‘simply a handbook to make the very radical demands of the gospel a practical reality in daily life.’
Q: What does it mean to be canonically recognized?
The Episcopal Church canonically recognizes 18 traditional orders and 14 Christian communities for men, women, or both. Episcopal Canons are the laws that govern the Episcopal Church USA. When a community seeks canonical recognition, they fulfill certain requirements set forth by the Church and are then reviewed by a committee of Bishops, who then determine whether or not to officially recognize that community within the Church laws. Not all communities seek canonical recognition and it is not required to function and offer ministry and prayer within your community. Seeking canonical recognition is an important decision made within each community. NAECC can help you determine whether this process is right for your community.
Q: What is the difference between traditional orders and christian communities?
A Religious Order of this Church is a society of Christians (in communion with the See of Canterbury) who voluntarily commit themselves for life, or a term of years, to holding their possessions in common or in trust; to a celibate life in community; and obedience to their Rule and Constitution. (Title III, Canon 14, section 1)
A Christian Community of this Church is a society of Christians (in communion with the See of Canterbury) who voluntarily commit themselves for life, or a term of years, in obedience to their Rule and Constitution. (Title III, Canon 14, section 2)