Community of Jesus

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Church of the Transfiguration at the Community of Jesus

The Community of Jesus is an ecumenical, Benedictine monastic Christian community located near Rock Harbor,[1] in Orleans, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.

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 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.[2]


The Community of Jesus has had many credible allegations of abuse. A 1991 book by Ronald Enroth called Churches that Abuse writes of a "theology of control" in the Community of Jesus[3] and included stories from former members who talk about alleged emotional, spiritual and physical abuse they experienced as members of the Community of Jesus.[4] In July 1993, "Chronicle", a news magazine (WCVB-TV, Channel 5 Boston), broadcast a news program which presented stark contrasts in how the Community of Jesus presented themselves and the stories of individual members. Numerous blogs and websites have been started by former members to share stories from the group.

The community had ties to Grenville Christian College, a private Anglican Diocese of Ontario boarding school in Canada that closed in 2007 amidst allegations of abuse. Michael Valpy states that for twenty years the staff of Grenville would hold a summer retreat at the Community of Jesus.[5] A documentary about the abuse at the school aired in Canada on February 7, 2016 on one of Canada's national networks, CTV Television Network, [6] Alumnus Andrew J. Hale-Byrne wrote a book entitled "Grenville", describing his experience at the school.[7] Staff members at Grenville Christian College, during the period of 1973 to 1997 had ties to the Community of Jesus. This includes the headmaster Charles Farnworth whose son Don continues to maintain connections with members of the Community of Jesus.[6][8][9]

The Ontario Provincial Police criminal investigation into abuse by former staff of Grenville Christian College is ongoing. A $225 million lawsuit has been filed against the defunct school. "The plaintiffs' Statement of claim alleges that while the school presented itself as Anglican, the college's staff engaged in a 'systematic campaign promote and indoctrinate students in the teachings' of the Community of Jesus". Robert Farnsworth, former resident of the Community of Jesus and member of Grenville staff was arrested. All staff at Grenville were members of the Community of Jesus. [10][11]


The origins of the Community of Jesus can be traced back to the first meeting of two Episcopal laywomen, Cay Andersen and Judy Sorensen. The two women began a ministry of prayer and Bible study, meeting in the living room of what was then Rock Harbor Manor overlooking Cape Cod Bay. In the early 1960s as their reputation for effective Bible teaching and prayer began to spread, Cay and Judy were invited to lead retreats in churches throughout New England. They came to be known for the practical insights they imparted as they applied scriptural principles to daily living.[12] The Community of Jesus as was formally constituted in 1970.[13]

Rule of Life[edit]

Bell tower at the Community of Jesus

The Rule took its present shape in 2008 after two years of study and writing; a six-month-long series of community meetings for making revisions; a five-year period of trial use, during which further changes were made; and final adoption by a vote of the Chapter (which is composed of the solemnly professed members). Through that time, and in order to reflect more faithfully the Community's own Benedictine ethos, counsel and suggestions also were received from various scholars, monastic superiors, canon lawyers and others.

Like all monastic rules, The Rule of Life of the Community of Jesus is a written distillation of those values and ideas that best describe the purpose for and practice of the Community of Jesus’ life together. Its content is drawn from and inspired by Scripture, church tradition, the Rule of St. Benedict, and the founding principles and charisms of the Community of Jesus expressed in its founding and in its ongoing evolution. Its purpose is to prescribe a standard of spiritual wisdom for community living, and to be a basic guide for those wishing to commit themselves to the monastic life as it is pursued in the Community of Jesus.

Following a prologue, the Rule of Life is divided into two major sections, each of which has two parts. Section I sets forth the fundamental spiritual principles upon which the Community of Jesus was founded and which continue to give the community its definition. These are presented in Parts A and B under the headings of “Vocation” (God's call) and “Profession” (our response). Section II applies those principles to the procedures for membership and decision-making in the community. These are presented in Parts C and D under the headings of “Membership” and “Governance.”

The full text of The Rule of Life of the Community of Jesus is available on the Community of Jesus web site.[14]

==Church of the Transfiguration==

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

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[15] 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[16] and fresco images,[17] sculpted bronze,[18] glass,[19] and stone artwork.[20]

Artists contributing to the Church of the Transfiguration include:

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.[21] 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.[22] Currently, the organ includes the Great, Swell, Choir, Processional, Echo, and Pedal Divisions consisting of 110 ranks.[23] 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.[24]

Gloriae Dei Cantores[edit]

Gloriae 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. Founded in 1988, Gloriæ Dei Cantores has touched the hearts of audiences in twenty-three countries in Europe, Russia, and North America, receiving extensive critical acclaim for its artistic elegance, performance authenticity, and compelling spirituality. Distributed in the United States and internationally by Naxos, the choir's catalog of more than fifty recordings showcases their extensive repertoire, encompassing both masterpieces and rarely performed musical treasures from Gregorian chant to the twenty-first century. “Superb” BBC; “Lovely, pure and radiant” Gramophone; “Rapturous a capella passages” Chicago Tribune.

Highlights of the choir's career include three invitational tours to Russia, opening the 900th anniversary of St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, Italy, live radio and television broadcasts with the BBC, TV & film soundtracks, the tree-lighting ceremony at Rockefeller Plaza, and performances in some of the finest concert halls throughout Eastern and Western Europe and across the United States.

Gloriæ Dei Cantores makes its home at the Church of the Transfiguration (Orleans, MA) where the choir sings weekly worship services, seasonal concerts, and records throughout the year. The members’ ongoing life of worship—Sunday Eucharist, Choral Evensong, and Liturgy of the Hours in Gregorian Chant—is the foundation of the choir's artistry, enabling their extensive repertoire to become a vibrant form of prayer in any setting. Their music conveys “a kind of utter, rapt, spiritual intensity, that you simply can’t imagine unless you’ve experienced it for yourself.” (American Record Guide)

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 included 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].

Mount Tabor: Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality[edit]

One of the most recent projects of the Community of Jesus has been the creation of the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality in Italy. The Mount Tabor Centre for Art and Spirituality is an international organization facilitating ecumenical dialogue through educational symposia, visual and performing arts, spiritual retreats and exhibitions of contemporary sacred art. Bridging cultural, ecclesial and national boundaries, the Mount Tabor Centre provides opportunities for reflection and discussion about faith and creativity, contemplation and communion, liturgy and beauty. As the Spirit inspires the contemporary voices of today's Christian artists, musicians and authors, Mount Tabor provides venues for encouragement and fellowship. Via Sacra, home of the Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre in Barga, Italy, provides a context for reflection and discussion about faith and creativity, contemplation and communication, liturgy and beauty. The Centre also has an office and gallery in Orleans, Massachusetts, Cape Cod.


  1. ^ Neff, David (20 October 2010). "The Art of Glory". Christianity Today. Retrieved 8 May 2012.
  2. ^ "History". Community of Jesus. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
  3. ^ Mackey, Lloyd. "controversy clouds closing of college", Christian Week, October 1, 2007
  4. ^ Enroth, Ronald. Churches that Abuse, Zondervan. Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1992ISBN 0-310-53290-6[page needed]
  5. ^ Valpy, Michael. "Mothers of Invention", The Globe and Mail, April 26, 2018
  6. ^ a b Malarek, Victor. "Former students allege psychological, Physical, and sexual abuse at Ont. school", CTV W5, December 10, 2016
  7. ^ Hale-Byrne, Andrew J., Grenville, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2016ISBN 978-1523880058
  8. ^ Star Archived 2016-05-23 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Drew Marshall[better source needed]
  10. ^ Ballingall, Alex. "Son of late Grenville headmaster arrested for sex assault", The Star, October 7, 2016
  11. ^ Kingston, Bill. "Robert Farnsworth acquitted of alleged 1980s sexual assault", "Brockville Newswatch", March 13, 2018
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ "The Rule of Life | The Community of Jesus". The Community of Jesus. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ Richard Dyer (11 July 2005). "A work of biblical proportion, 'Pilgrim's Progress' has real spirit". Retrieved 16 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Fresco | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  18. ^ "Bronze | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  19. ^ "Glass | The Church of the Transfiguration". Retrieved 2015-09-01.
  20. ^ Milton, Susan (21 November 2010). "Art becomes religious experience". Cape Cod Times. Hyannis. Archived from the original on 11 September 2013.
  21. ^ Sullivan, James (7 August 2014). "SharonRose Pfeiffer on the amazing E.M. Skinner organ". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  22. ^ "Organ". Church of the Transfiguration. Retrieved 27 August 2015.
  23. ^
  24. ^ "E. M. Skinner Organ - The Church of the Transfiguration (official website)". Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  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.


External links[edit]

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