"I LIKE to think of it as a rebottling of three very fine
vintage clarets. It's absolutely new - and there is nothing new
about it at all."
This is how a new monastic "gap year" at Lambeth Palace, the
Community of St Anselm, is described by the man who will be its
first Prior, the Revd Anders Litzell.
Mr Litzell, who currently works at St George the Martyr, Queen
Square, Holborn, was speaking at the Palace on Monday after it was
announced that he would lead the Archbishop of Canterbury's
"radical" community of 16 men and women, who will spend a year
praying, learning, and serving at the Palace.
Mr Litzell said that he was "captivated" by the way the
Community is simultaneously a fresh expression of the religious
life, and draws on ancient spirituality - the three pillars, or
clarets, of St Benedict, St Francis, and St Ignatius of Loyola, who
founded the Society of Jesus.
The community is named in honour of St Anselm, Archbishop of
Canterbury from 1093 to 1109, who was professed as a Benedictine
monk at the age of 27.
"St Benedict said something quite spectacular in his Rule: 'I
offer this way of life for those who would prefer nothing
whatsoever to Christ,'" Mr Litzell said. "Whichever part of history
you want to dip into, you will find something of this same spirit
The Archbishop's Chaplain, the Revd Dr Jo Wells, said that the
aim was for the community not to be a purely Anglican or British
endeavour, but a global initiative. From September next year, there
would be 16 resident and 40 non-resident members of the community.
Fifty per cent would be women, one third would be non-Anglicans,
and one third would come from the Global South, Dr Wells said.
"That gets into a radical social mix as well as a radical
denominational mix. Pentecostal all the way across to Orthodox
would be extremely welcome and hoped for," she said.
Mr Litzell fits into this global vision: he is Swedish, studied
in the United States, and spent time in South Africa before being
ordained in the Church of England in 2012. His wife, Kate, a South
African, and their two young children will also be living at
Lambeth Palace, alongside the 16 residential members of the
Last month, Archbishop Welby told a banking conference in the US
that he hoped those who were members of the Community of St Anselm
would use their experiences to make them better bankers, bishops,
or presidents (News, 17
Dr Wells said that, while the details had yet to be fully worked
out, an ordinary day in the community would include time of
personal and corporate prayer, lectures, group study, and
volunteering with charities and churches outside the Palace.
This new venture is open only to those aged between 20 and 35.
Dr Wells said that this was to "capitalise on that young energy
that is keen to change the world, and believes it can, before they
are crushed by the cynicism of a mortgage or whatever it is".