School for Conversion

I mentioned that I had exchanged emails with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, the author of New Monasticism. Here’s the story:

Last year I finally got around to reading Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I recommend this book to everybody! I should get around to re-reading it, but I think someone is borrowing it right now. Matt read it too, and we were both challenged/inspired by so many of the ideas of how Christians can live out the gospel. Shane quotes Mother Teresa who said, “We cannot do great things, only simple things with great love,” and this mentality is behind the formation of a community where he lives in Philadelphia called The Simple Way. I loved his book because it was radical and had big ideas, but it is also based on the simple concept of taking Jesus at his word.

The Simple Way is one of the best known communities that reflect the values of new monasticism, a movement that values among other things:

  • relocation to abandoned places of Empire
  • sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among [them]
  • hospitality to the stranger
  • nurturing common life among members of intentional community
  • commitment to a disciplined contemplative life

Within this movement, married couples live alongside celibate singles, and communities exist across generational and racial lines. It also recognizes the importance of staying connected to the greater body of the Church and is a movement within the church, not apart from it.

So a few weeks ago Matt and I were looking at how we might be able to go and visit Simple Way, and it TURNS OUT that they are hosting a course for School for Conversion (SFC)* on the exact weekend that I have time booked off. But when I tried to register it said I would be waitlisted. So I figured it had filled up and we should just keep an eye out for it next year.

But last week I got an email from Jonathan asking if I was still coming and if they should continue to save Matt and I spots. So I said yes please. And then Matt told me who Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was, lol, which is a friend of Shane Claiborne, the director of SFC and author of New Monasticism (which I bought and read shortly after this whole encounter), among other books that he has authored and co-authored.

(I took this picture of Philly when I went to Camden, NJ at the end of my first year at Tyndale. I think that’s cool!)

SO this November, Matt and I will be road tripping to Philly to spend a weekend at Simple Way!!!** The School for Conversion course consists of 5 sessions on the “theology and practice of Christianity as a way of life.” And the course is facilitated by Shane Claiborne! So instead of hoping to meet him when we go to see his neighbourhood we will actually get to spend a bunch of time together! And hopefully we’ll meet a bunch of other people who are interested in these ideas too!

I don’t know if this will sound crazy to anybody, but to me it sounds really exciting, and especially in light of the reading I have done by Shane and Jonathan I believe that no matter what changes Matt and I end up making in how we live out our faith, we will learn tons, and it is just a great big awesome opportunity!

I am working on my application to have my passport reflect my married name (ehem), we are expecting a course package in the next few weeks with a bit more info, and THEN there will just be the small matter of waiting for November to roll around!

*The “conversion” in SFC is “conversion to a new way of life” – the blurb about it in the back of my book on new monasticism says,
Based in Christian communities of neo-monastic discipleship, SFC facilitates study directed toward the creation of new community and creative expressions of God’s kingdom in the abandoned spaced of society.

**Don’t worry Mom and Dad, we finally got CAA! So if somehow BLAT fails us, we at least won’t be stranded.

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