Community of Jesus

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Church of the Transfiguration at the Community of Jesus
Exterior view of the Church of the Transfiguration at the Community of Jesus

The Community of Jesus is a fundamentalist Christian community located near Rock Harbor,[1] in Orleans, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. It was created by charismatic leaders Cay Andersen and Judy Sorensen.[2] The Church of the Transfiguration is the center of the community. Worship services include Light Sessions, Holy Eucharist, Choral Evensong, Advent Lessons and Carols,[3] and Liturgy of the Hours (sung in Gregorian chant).[4] The community founded and administers the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre For Art & Spirituality located in Barga, Italy. Paraclete Press is the publishing house of the Community of Jesus.[5]

Today, approximately 225 professed members, together with another fifty children and young people live as households in thirty privately owned, multifamily homes that surround the church and the guesthouse. This also includes the twenty-five celibate brothers living in "Zion Friary" and the sixty celibate sisters living in "Bethany Convent." Altogether, the Community of Jesus - considered by many to be a cult - consists of almost 275 people, from many walks of life and various church backgrounds—including Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Congregational, Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Pentecostal, and Roman Catholic.[6]

Church of the Transfiguration[edit]

Constructed of Minnesota limestone, and designed by William Rawn Associates of Boston, the Church of the Transfiguration is a contemporary expression of an ancient 4th century basilica[7] style of architecture, featuring a long rectangular nave, a rounded apse at the east end, narrow side aisles, a peaked timber roof, and interior columns and arches along the side aisles. The interior of the Church is filled with hand-crafted mosaic[8] and fresco images,[9] sculpted bronze,[10] glass,[11] and stone artwork.[12]

Artists contributing to the Church of the Transfiguration include:

The Church of the Transfiguration organ is a restoration and expansion by Nelson Barden & Associates[13] of pipework from seventeen organs built by the Ernest M. Skinner Organ Company in the early 20th century.[14]

Bell tower at the Community of Jesus

Gloriae Dei Cantores[edit]

Gloriæ Dei Cantores (Singers to the Glory of God) holds a passionate dedication to illuminate truth and beauty through choral artistry, celebrating a rich tradition of sacred choral music from Gregorian chant through the twenty-first century.[15] Choir members reside at the Community of Jesus and they sing weekly worship services and regular concerts,[16] at the Church of the Transfiguration.[17]

The choir has appeared on the concert stage and in recordings with Keith Lockhart,[18][19] John Williams, Samuel Adler,[20] Mark O'Connor,[21] Stephen Cleobury, Vladimir Minin, Philippe Entremont,[22] and the late George Guest, Mary Berry (conductor), and Margaret Hillis, among others.[23] Highlights of the choir’s career include three invitational tours of Russia, the opening of the 900th anniversary of [St. Mark’s Basilica] in Venice, live broadcasts with the BBC, the soundtrack of Lorenzo’s Oil, featured on the soundtrack of the television series drama finale Detroit 1-8-7, and performances in some of the finest concert halls throughout Europe. Its discography of nearly 50 recordings is distributed in the United States through Harmonia Mundi.[24]

Interior view of the Church of the Transfiguration at the Community of Jesus

Elements Theatre Company[edit]

Elements Theatre Company was founded in 1992, by several members of the Community of Jesus. They perform year-round on Cape Cod, as well as touring nationally and internationally. Recent tours have include performances at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center (New York), The New School for Drama (New York), 92nd Street Y (New York), East 13th Street Theatre, home of Classic Stage Company (New York), St. Malachy's - The Actor's Chapel (New York), Chicago Theological Seminary (New York), Chicago Public Library, Dominican University (River Forest, IL), and the Cathedral of St. Christopher in Barga, Italy.

Recent performances include Talking Heads by Alan Bennett,[25] God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza,[26][27] A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,[28] Pillars of the Community by Henrik Ibsen, The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov,[29] The Doorway by Phyllis Tickle, The Trial of Jesus by John Masefield, and Rumors by Neil Simon. Recent Shakespeare performances include, Merchant of Venice[30], Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream,[31] and Julius Caesar[32][33].

Members of the Company have studied in London, Chicago, New York and Boston, at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, the Royal Shakespeare Company, London's National Theatre, Shakespeare's Globe, Shakespeare & Company and the Central School of Speech and Drama. The Linklater method has been emphasized in their voice training.

E. M. Skinner Organ[edit]

Built by Nelson Barden & Associates of Boston, MA, the organ at the Church of the Transfiguration is a restoration and expansion of components from a number of twentieth-century organs of the Ernest M. Skinner Organ Company. When completed, it will include 150 ranks and 12,500 pipes, making it one of the six largest organs in the country, and in the top ten largest in the world.[34] The pipe organ’s unique location allows its sounds to be specifically directed so as to accompany the various liturgical actions taking place on the floor.[35]

Currently, the organ includes the Great, Swell, Choir, Processional, Echo, and Pedal Divisions consisting of 110 ranks.[36] The main part of the organ is located at the east end of the Church in three sections. The Great and Choir Divisions of the organ are on the north side, the Swell Division on the south. The Processional Division of the organ is located one hundred feet away at the west end of the nave, and includes stops such as Principal Diapason, Tuba Major, Tuba Mirabilis, and the Trumpet Militaire. The Echo Division, also at the west end, includes the softest sounds of the organ.[37]

Special Events[edit]

Throughout the year, the Community of Jesus holds special events including free organ concerts on Thursdays during the summer (Brown Bag Organ Lunch), Harborside Teas are held on Friday afternoon during the summer, and Advent Teas on the first weekend of Advent. These teas have been a tradition since 1984, and for over thirty years the Sisters of the Community of Jesus have prepared and served guests at Bethany Guest House and on the patio in the summer months. Guests also enjoy live chamber music.[38]

Another tradition is the candle-lit service of Advent Lessons and Carols. Held annually on the first weekend of Advent, this service is possibly the best-known Christmas service in the Western world. The service format originated at King's College in Cambridge, England in 1918. Readings, carols, choral music and congregation hymns celebrate the birth of Jesus.


The Community of Jesus has had a controversial history. A 1991 book by Ron Enroth called Churches that Abuse included stories from former members who talk about emotional, spiritual and physical abuse they experienced as members of the Community of Jesus.[39] Numerous blogs and websites have been started by former members to share stories from the group. These include,, and The community's history has strong ties to Grenville Christian College, a private school in Canada that closed amidst allegations of abuse connected to the community's teachings and practices. A documentary about the alleged abuse at the school aired in Canada on February 7, 2016.


  1. ^ Neff, David (20 October 2010). "The Art of Glory". Christianity Today. Retrieved 8 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "History". Community of Jesus (official site). Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  3. ^ Ashleigh Bennett (7 December 2012). "Orleans church models crèche after its members". Retrieved 17 July 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Church of the Transfiguration - Rock Harbor, Orleans, Massachusetts (official website)". Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Home". Paraclete Press. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  6. ^ "History". Community of Jesus. Retrieved 24 August 2015. 
  7. ^ Mark Ogilbee and Jana Riess (21 December 2006). "10 great places to receive tidings of comfort, joy". USA Today. Archived from the original on 17 July 2014. 
  8. ^ Richard Dyer (11 July 2005). "A work of biblical proportion, 'Pilgrim's Progress' has real spirit". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  9. ^ "Fresco | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  10. ^ "Bronze | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  11. ^ "Glass | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01. 
  12. ^ Milton, Susan (21 November 2010). "Art becomes religious experience". Cape Cod Times (Hyannis). Archived from the original on 10 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Laurie Higgins (28 July 2013). "SIMPLY DELICIOUS: Tea for two at Rock Harbor". Retrieved 16 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "E. M. Skinner Organ - The Church of the Transfiguration (official website)". Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Gloriae Dei Cantores". Gloriae Dei Cantores Official Website. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  16. ^ Dyer, Richard. "A work of biblical proportion, 'Pilgrim's Progress' has real spirit". Boston Globe. Globe Newspaper Company. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  17. ^ "Church of the Transfiguration". Church of the Transfiguration. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  18. ^ Panarello, Joseph (1 December 2010). "BWW Interviews: Maestro Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops". BroadwayWorld. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ Fusilli, Jim (6 January 2010). "A Violinist Fluent in Many Vernaculars". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^ "Harmonia Mundi". Harmonia Mundi. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "'Talking Heads' paints pictures with words". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  26. ^ "The Barnstable Patriot - Elements Theatre Company Creates Chaos in Reza's God of Carnage". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  27. ^ "Civility turns ugly in clever ‘Carnage’". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  28. ^ "'Carol' rings in Christmas spirit". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  29. ^ "‘Cherry Orchard’ is tribute to Chekhov in Orleans". Wicked Local. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  30. ^ "Encountering the Other in Shakespeare". America Magazine. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  31. ^ "Hex in the city". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  32. ^ "The Barnstable Patriot - Lend your ears to Elements' Julius Caesar". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  33. ^ "Elements ‘Caesar’ a powerful production". Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  34. ^ Sullivan, James (7 August 2014). "SharonRose Pfeiffer on the amazing E.M. Skinner organ". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  35. ^ "Organ". Church of the Transfiguration. Retrieved 27 August 2015. 
  36. ^
  37. ^ "E. M. Skinner Organ - The Church of the Transfiguration (official website)". Retrieved 10 July 2013. 
  38. ^ "SIMPLY DELICIOUS: Tea for two at Rock Harbor". Wicked Local. Retrieved 2015-11-03. 
  39. ^

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 41°47′57″N 70°00′24″W / 41.799071°N 70.006599°W / 41.799071; -70.006599