[Episcopal News Service] Presiding Bishop Michael Curry joined Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church, in sending messages of support for the Community at the Crossing, a new program planned for young adults from different Christian denominations to live, work, study and pray together at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.
In a rare display of ecumenical unity, the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox leaders endorsed the program – through pre-recorded video messages and a letter – during a service at the cathedral on Sept. 8 marking the inauguration of the program, though the first residents won’t arrive for another year.
In his message, Curry said religious communities “have often been lighthouses to help human civilization find its way to a way of life grounded more deeply in the ways of compassion and the ways of justice, ways of kindness, in the way of God’s love. … The Community at the Crossing, like religious communities before it, will be a lighthouse showing us the way to find life abundant.”
From the Vatican, “My heart rejoices when I think that the Catholic Archdiocese and the Episcopal Diocese of New York are working hand in hand,” Francis said in his message. “My hope is this community will offer an opportunity to revive the desire for unity of Christians and of society in New York and even in the United States.
“The future of faith in our world passes through Christian unity. Yes, we do not agree on everything. Yes, we have convictions that sometimes seem incompatible, or are incompatible. But that is precisely why we choose to love each other. Love is stronger than all disagreements and divisions.”
The Community at the Crossing will bring together 10-15 American lay Christians between 20 and 30 years old to form an ecumenical community intended to enrich the spiritual life of each member individually and the cathedral community as a whole. The residents will be students or young professionals who take a year off “to be interrupted by God.” The cathedral will renovate one floor of a building on its close, where they will share a common life, with five themes: study, service to the poor, prayer, community life and the unity of Christians.
The Sept. 8 service welcomed members of Chemin Neuf – an international, interdenominational lay order run by Roman Catholics – who will begin the process of designing the curriculum and reviewing applications. Chemin Neuf is also involved with the Community of St. Anselm, a similar residency program started by Welby at Lambeth Palace in London.
“The best of what we do as a church happens when we come together as a community of love,” Welby said. “The Community of St. Anselm was made possible only through the help of Chemin Neuf, who remain partners in this work. … I can say without hesitation that they will be a huge blessing to you in so many ways as you receive them and work with them in New York.”
The community is now in its final design phase; the first cohort will start in September 2023, with the application period opening in January.
– Egan Millard is an assistant editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.