A group founded by Catholics has been invited to establish a community of prayer at Lambeth Palace.
Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby of Canterbury has invited four members of Chemin Neuf to live at the palace from January.
The group will include an Anglican married couple, a Lutheran studying to be a pastor and a Catholic. They will replace a community of Anglican nuns who, for the last 24 years, have lived at the palace.
A statement issued by Lambeth Palace said the community will share in the daily round of prayer that underpins the ministry of Archbishop Welby and will “further the ecumenical and international dimensions of his work.”
The Chemin Neuf group will pray three times a day in the crypt of the palace to hold the ministry of Archbishop Welby in nearly constant prayer.
In the press statement, the archbishop said: “The Church is constantly called to realise its God-given unity. The Holy Spirit blows through our lives and our structures and impels us into new ways of learning to love each other as Christ loves us.
“I am deeply moved that in God’s grace, Chemin Neuf have agreed to this radical and exciting new step of coming to live as a community of prayer, hospitality and learning at Lambeth Palace. We pray that this step of obedience will bear fruit among us and for the Church.”
Catholic Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, president of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, welcomed the announcement.
“I salute this initiative which brings the riches of a number of Christian traditions of prayer to the life of the palace,” he said.
“This is a clear and bold sign of the importance of prayer in the search for visible Christian unity. Such unity is a gift we are most likely to receive on our knees in prayer.”
Chemin Neuf grew out of a prayer group in Lyon, France, in 1973 and now has some 2,000 members in 30 countries. It describes itself as a “Roman Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation” made up of married couples, families and celibate individuals. Its members are drawn from different Christian denominations and are united by their faith and the desire to serve the church, the Gospel and the world.
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