Society of St. John the Evangelist
|Founder||Richard Meux Benson
Charles Chapman Grafton
|Type||Anglican religious order|
|Headquarters||980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA 02138 USA|
SSJE was founded in 1866 at Cowley, Oxford, England, by Father Richard Meux Benson, a priest in the Church of England, and Fr Charles Chapman Grafton. Known colloquially as the Cowley Fathers, the society was the first stable religious community of men to be established in the Anglican Communion since the English Reformation. For many years the society had houses in Scotland, India, South Africa, Japan and Canada.
North American congregation
In 1870 the society came to Boston, Massachusetts, where it became part of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The members of the North American congregation live in a monastery designed by Ralph Adams Cram in Cambridge, near Harvard Square. The guest house was built in memory of Isabella Stewart Gardner. The Society has a rural retreat centre, Emery House, in West Newbury, where guests can stay in small hermitages in the meadow.
The community's chief ministries are preaching, spiritual direction, and hospitality. For some years they have been affiliated with St. George's College, Jerusalem, serving as chaplains on a number of pilgrimages to the Holy Land each year. They have also conducted mission trips to Africa. Individual brothers work in various local and regional ministries with students, prisoners, soldiers, the homeless, and persons affected by HIV and AIDS. One of the brothers, M. Thomas Shaw, SSJE, served as the 15th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts.
The current superior, Geoffrey Tristram SSJE, studied theology at Pembroke College, Cambridge University where he received his BA and MA, attended Westcott House theological college in Cambridge and was ordained in Salisbury Cathedral in 1979. In 1999 he came to the United States to test his vocation with the society, where he was life-professed in 2004. In his time in the Society he has travelled widely in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, the Holy Land and Africa, leading retreats and workshops, preaching, teaching and offering spiritual direction. He has served as chaplain to the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church.
Cowley Publications was run by the Society until 2007, when it was sold to Rowman & Littlefield.
Fellowship of St John (USA)
The Fellowship of St John in the United States is a group of men and women who wish to live in a closer relation with the brothers of the Society of St John the Evangelist. They write and follow a rule of life similar to The Rule under which the brothers live. Members of the fellowship support the society through their friendship and prayers, even as they look to SSJE for support and inspiration. There are about 1,000 men and women in the fellowship.
On July 3, 2014, it was announced that one of the members of the fellowship, Roy Cockrum, a former brother, had won $259 million in the Tennessee State Lottery. It was his intention to use it to fund an endowment for the performing arts.
The Society in England operated from Marston Street, Oxford from 1868 to 1980. In 1905 it opened St Edward's House in Westminster, London, where it provided retreats and other ministries until 2012, when it closed and the property was sold. Oxford University professor C. S. Lewis visited Father Walter Adams, making confession to Father Adams as a spiritual discipline from 1940 until Father Adams died on March 3, 1952. Lewis gave much credit to Father Adams for his ministry.
Fellowship of St John Trust
The Society administers The Fellowship of St John (UK) Trust Association, a registered charity, which gives grants to UK and foreign agencies for education and missionary work.
People associated with the Society
- Spence Burton, Lord Bishop of Nassau and The Bahamas 1942–61
- Edward William Osborne, Bishop of Springfield
- Kenneth Abbott Viall, Suffragan Bishop of Tokyo
- "Society of St John the Evangelist". Fellowship of St John Trust Association. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
- "Former Monk Wins $259,800,000 Lottery". Huffington Post. July 4, 2014.
- Charity Commission. Fellowship of St John (UK) Trust Association, registered charity no. 289862.
- The Society of Saint John the Evangelist official website
- The Fellowship of St John Trust Association official website
- "SSJE". Project Canterbury.
- Brother Stephen CR. "The Way They Live Now". Trushare.
- "Sale of monastery 'led priest to steal money for his future'". Church of England Newspaper. August 9, 2012.
- "Father Benson and the Society of Saint John the Evangelist". Company of Voices. May 19, 2012.
- "Records of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE)". Lambeth Palace Library.