SEVEN young people from around the world joined the Community of St Anselm, at Lambeth Palace, at the start of the national lockdown on Monday. They will first quarantine, then form a bubble with other members.
The community was established by the Archbishop of Canterbury in 2015 for young people between the ages of 20 and 35 to experience something of the religious life for a year (News, 25 September 2015; Features, 28 September 2018). Enrolment is usually in September, but this was delayed by the pandemic.
The Church Times understands that the latest group — from Pakistan, Kenya, Nigeria, Portugal, Canada, and the United States — travelled to the UK within the current national and international rules, and will be in quarantine for the next ten days. Members who were required to have Covid-19 tests before travelling did so, and all were negative.
Once their quarantine has ended next week, the group, who will all reside full-time at the Palace, will adhere to all the current and subsequent lockdown restrictions for the duration of their time in the UK. While quarantining, they will not be in contact with non-members, including Palace staff and residents. Once that period is over, they will remain socially distanced from non-members.
They will live in community for just seven months, compared with the usual ten, to allow for a new group to start next September as usual.
In previous years, there were up to 15 full-time residents who lived in the Palace, and a further 13 non-residents living at home and working, who joined in for prayer, Bible study, worship, retreats, and community service.
This year, as well as the seven residents, there will also be 12 non-residential members, including some alumni from previous years, who will join community meetings, spiritual counselling, and retreats online.
Community service will continue, since the current lockdown rules allow volunteer organisations to continue to operate with training and protective measures in place, and volunteering is one of the “reasonable excuses” for leaving home.
The Church Times understands, however, that while resident members would usually begin their voluntary work about three weeks after arriving at Lambeth, this will depend on their having completed quarantine without any symptoms, and also on the state of government rules and guidance by the end of January.
The Dean of St Anselm’s, the Revd Simon Lewis, said on Wednesday: “We are very grateful that the new members of the Community of St Anselm have been able to travel safely to Lambeth. We have made sure at every step of the way to follow all UK and international rules and guidance as necessary. The community is well practised at putting measures in place to keep everyone safe, having continued to operate successfully through the lockdown last year.
“We hope that the commitment of these young people to spend this period in prayer, Bible study, and service to others will be beacon of hope in the darkness of this season.”