A NEW Christian university is to open in the grounds of an ancient monastery, Waverley Abbey, in Surrey.
In a partnership between the international movement 24-7 Prayer, and CWR, the university will open on the site overlooking the Abbey, which is looked after by English Heritage.
It will expand on the degrees offered by Waverley Abbey College, which is currently offering undergraduate and post-graduate courses in counselling, theology, and leadership, validated by Middlesex University. In future, the degree courses offered will be accredited by the university itself.
Funding for the new university is being provided by 24-7, to “shape Waverley Abbey as a place of encounter, education, enterprise, and community engagement”, a spokesperson said.
The founder of 24-7 Prayer, Pete Greig, said: “This isn’t just about looking backwards, although historically Waverley Abbey is a place of extraordinary prayer. This is about the future — a new Abbey for a new generation. Our vision for this site is to revive the heart of the Abbey by establishing here a house of prayer for all nations, a new Christian university and a hive of gospel endeavour.
“The first time I visited the German village of Herrnhut, in 1999, I witnessed first-hand how places like these can change the world. That was the beginning of the 24-7 Prayer movement. And now, almost a quarter of a century later, at a time of such profound societal chaos, I can’t think of any task more urgent or exciting than establishing a new spiritual centre for the nation.”
The site will also house both an enterprise centre to host ethical business, which will produce goods under the Waverley Abbey brand, and a centre of mission.
The land, which is now part of the Waverley Abbey estate, was first given to be a monastery by King Caedwalla in 688. In 1128, 112 monks came over from France to build what became Britain’s first Cistercian monastery.
The land was bought by CWR in 1983, and the founder, Selwyn Hughes, set up the estate as place of prayer, retreat and learning.
The chief executive of CWR and Waverley Abbey College, Mark Markiewicz, said: “The spiritual and strategic input, as well as funding from 24-7 Prayer, will allow us to continue to do what God has called us to do.
“Our shared vision and collaboration will expand and build on the great work already happening at Waverley Abbey, and together we will begin developing exciting initiatives to see God’s Kingdom flourish here.”
A new Trust has been formed, which will be led by Ken Costa, a former chairman of Alpha International. Pete Greig and Chris Kuchanny, from 24-7 Prayer, have also joined the board of trustees. CWR and 24-7 Prayer will continue to run as separate organisations.