Welby invites ecumenical community into Lambeth Palace

by Tim Wyatt
The Church Times

(From left) Oliver Matri, Ula Michlowicz, and Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher of the Chemin Neuf community.

FOUR members of an international ecumenical community have been invited to move into Lambeth Palace to pray for and encourage the Archbishop of Canterbury’s ministry. Archbishop Justin Welby said that the French Catholic foundation Chemin Neuf would come to live “as a community of prayer, hospitality and learning at Lambeth Palace”.

An Anglican couple, Ione and Alan Morley-Fletcher, a Lutheran training for ministry, Oliver Matri, and a Catholic consecrated sister, Ula Michlowicz, will move in from January next year. Archbishop Welby said: “The church is constantly called to realise its God-given unity. I am deeply moved that in God’s grace Chemin Neuf have agreed to this radical and exciting new step.”

Chemin Neuf -which means “New Way” in English – was founded in Lyon in 1973. It describes itself as a “Roman Catholic community with an ecumenical vocation” and today has more than 2000 members in over 30 countries. Members of the community come from various denominations, including the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Communion, and Pentecostal, Lutheran and Reformed churches.

The community runs retreats, prayer groups, summer schools, language programmes, and discipleship courses around the world. They have also established an ecumenical network, Net for God, and produce a 30 minute video each month to encourage members of the network in their work for unity and peace between countries and churches.

Archbishop Welby said that the Chemin Neuf members who will move into the palace will further the ecumenical dimensions of his work. The founder and superior general of Chemin Neuf, Fr Laurent Fabre, welcomed the announcement. He said: “On the long and difficult path towards unity of Christians, there have often been surprises. It is with great joy that we are responding to the amazing invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury to live and pray daily in Lambeth Palace, in the heart of the Anglican Communion.” Fr Fabre also hailed Archbishop Welby’s courage in reaching out to a Catholic community.

The Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, the Most Revd Vincent Nichols, said: “I salute this initiative which brings the riches of a number of Christian traditions of prayer to the life of the Palace. This is a clear and bold sign of the importance of prayer in the search for visible Christian unity.”


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