Community of Jesus
The Community of Jesus is a monastic Christian community located near Rock Harbor, in Orleans, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod. It was founded by controversial charismatic leaders Cay Andersen and Judy Sorensen. The Church of the Transfiguration is the center of the community. Worship services include Holy Eucharist, Choral Evensong, Advent Lessons and Carols, and Liturgy of the Hours (sung in Gregorian chant). 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.
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.
The Community of Jesus has had a controversial history. A 1991 book, still readily available, by Ron Enroth called Churches that Abuse included stories from former members who talk about alleged emotional, spiritual and physical abuse they experienced as members of the Community of Jesus. 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. These include http://mylifecoj.wordpress.com, www.communityofjesus.net, and communityofjesus.biz. The community's history has ties to Grenville Christian College, a private Anglican Diocese of Ontario school in Canada that closed amidst allegations of abuse. 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, which was released to coincide with the launch of the book, "Grenville", by Andrew J. Hale-Byrne. It is alleged that every member of staff at Grenville Christian College, and members Anglican Diocese of Ontario school, during the period of 1973 to 1997 were avowed members of the Community of Jesus. " " " " " The Ontario Provincial Police criminal investigation into abuse by former staff and members of the Community of Jesus is ongoing. The Crown laid their first charges on October 6, 2016 for sexual assault. Robert Farnsworth, member of the Community of Jesus and former member of Grenville Christian College staff, was arrested on October 5, 2016. Robert Farnsworth is also the son of the Rev. Charles Farnsworth, late Grenville headmaster, and brother of Donald Farnsworth, member of the Community of Jesus and former Grenville Christian College Dean of Boys. "
Church of the Transfiguration
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 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 and fresco images, sculpted bronze, glass, and stone artwork.
Artists contributing to the Church of the Transfiguration include:
- Silvestro Pistolesi
- Daphné Du Barry
- Gabriele Wilpers
- Helen McLean
- Alessandra Caprara
- Romolo Del Deo
- Régis Demange
The Church of the Transfiguration organ is a restoration and expansion by Nelson Barden & Associates of pipework from seventeen organs built by the Ernest M. Skinner Organ Company in the early 20th century.
Rule of Life
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, dedicated to the love of Christ and the glory of God.
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 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 Benedictine scholars, monastic superiors, canon lawyers and others. The full text of The Rule of Life of the Community of Jesus is available on the Community of Jesus web site.
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. Choir members reside at the Community of Jesus and they sing weekly worship services and regular concerts, at the Church of the Transfiguration.
The choir has appeared on the concert stage and in recordings with Keith Lockhart, John Williams, Samuel Adler, Mark O'Connor, Stephen Cleobury, Vladimir Minin, Philippe Entremont, and the late George Guest, Mary Berry (conductor), and Margaret Hillis, among others. 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.
Elements Theatre Company
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, God of Carnage by Yasmina Reza, A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Pillars of the Community by Henrik Ibsen, The Dining Room by A.R. Gurney, The Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekhov, The Doorway by Phyllis Tickle, The Trial of Jesus by John Masefield, and Rumors by Neil Simon. Recent Shakespeare performances include, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Julius Caesar.
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
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. 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.
Currently, the organ includes the Great, Swell, Choir, Processional, Echo, and Pedal Divisions consisting of 110 ranks. 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.
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.
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.
Mount Tabor: Ecumenical Centre for Art and Spirituality
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.
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- Official website
- Church of the Transfiguration
- Mount Tabor Ecumenical Centre For Art & Spirituality
- Paraclete Press: publishing house of the Community of Jesus
- William Rawn Associates - Architect of the Church of the Transfigruation
- American Benedictine Academy article introducing the Community of Jesus
- Harmonia Mundi
- Official site of the Gloriae Dei Cantores
- Community of Jesus Facebook Page
- Church of the Transfiguration Facebook Page
- Official site of Elements Theatre Company