Category: News for the House of Prayer

Support from the Bishop of Carlisle

The Bishop of Carlisle has just given us a gift to match that promised by the Archbishop of Canterbury in token of his ‘absolute support‘ for the project.

This is an especially remarkable gift considering the dire financial straits facing the diocese at the moment, and is an enormous encouragement. It is so good to know our diocesan bishop is fully committed to the vision. He has always been supportive but the financial assistance just given is much more costly.

The financial difficulties facing our diocese (Carlisle) are far from unique. Many other dioceses are facing rising costs and lower incomes. Giving, especially, seems to have been hit by the economic downturn. It seems ‘big society’ needs spare money sloshing around to have any hope of working.

But this (growing) budget deficit carries in it the seeds of collapse of the entire parish system as we know it. As the vast majority of diocesan costs are its clergy (86% in Carlisle), the only way to realistically address it is reduce the number of clergy. So the parishes have to be bolted on to the care of the remaining clergy, who are consequently spread more and more thinly, and become increasingly stressed as they fail to meet parishioners’, and their own, expectations.

So the need to find an alternative approach to funded stipends in middle-class houses has an increasingly sharp economic driver to it.

However, the economic malaise reveals a deeper shortcoming with the existing system – that of the ‘professional’ clergy. Not in the original sense of one who ‘professes’ a certain life or talent, but of the managerial approach to church life. From where has the idea arisen that the Kingdom of God requires paid professionals living in large houses? What is the theology that gives rise to this unquestioned, but now increasingly unsustainable, practice?

In the second chapter of the book of Acts we read that, as a direct consequence of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, people started living in real community, sharing meals and possessions, ‘holding all things in common’. This was the restoration of humanity made ‘in the image of God’, the God who himself is three persons in communion.

There is a great need to rediscover this understanding of the work of the Spirit, to rediscover the real meaning of ‘community’, not just between people, but also between people and creation. For we, ourselves, are ‘of the soil’. ‘From dust you have come, to dust you shall return.’ But, and this is the extraordinary promise of Jesus’ resurrection, the dust from which he came did NOT return to the dust of the ground, but was transformed into ‘new creation.’ Thus the promise of new life is not just for humanity, but as proclaimed by the Bewcastle Cross, for all creation.

It is this passion for a rediscovery of the whole Gospel of Christ that, I know from conversation with him, is what the motivates the Bishop in his support of the vision for the Bewcastle or Borderlands Minster.

We are hoping to complete the purchase of the small farm, known as Greenholme (CA6 6PW), this month.

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We have a property (STC)!

The journey is about to take its first step onto the land.

We have made an offer on a smallholding in the Bewcastle parish and it has been accepted. So, subject to the usual legal proceedings, we have somewhere to begin.

It is not large, and not the farm  identified in our proposal. It is only around 6.5 acres, with a small, single-storey cottage, a two-room outbuilding, a tin workshop/garage, a static caravan, and a dilapidated barn! But it also has a large polytunnel, 12 raised beds, a soft-fruit garden, and a newly-established orchard. It sits on a beautiful stretch of the White Lyne with some good meadowland. And some wonderful neighbours! Most importantly, it has the potential to become the home of a small community.

Our original proposal to the diocese was for a 100+ acre farm that would have made a wonderful base for the future. However, following our meeting with them in June, and despite the support of the Archbishop, it seems to have got bogged down in the bureaucracy. So we have made the decision just to go with what we can afford on our own.

There is much to be done, including some building work on the house before we can move in. But the hopefully the path ahead is now clearer…

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Support from the Archbishop of Canterbury

After a conversation with Lambeth Palace this morning we have been told that the Archbishop wants to contribute financially to the House of Prayer!

This is brilliant news and shows that the vision has been endorsed at the highest level.

We still have a long way to go to raise the necessary capital, but hopefully others will feel more confident to help now that it has his financial backing.

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Can We Do It?

A “land-based community”, but without any land! Now we have a really exciting opportunity! If you share the vision, can you help make it a reality? We have a few weeks to make it happen…

Land is the ground on which we live. Like air, we cannot exist without it. Yet unlike air, it has been privatised.

One of our aims is to restore a right relationship with the land, and to rediscover an ancient way of being “church” in the rural context – learning to “pray with our hands in the soil”: to enable a Christian-based community to develop through the daily round of prayer and gentle living, utilising the principles of permaculture and low-impact dwellings. In a world gone mad we need a different way of living!

But land has become so expensive only the wealthy can afford it. Jesus said “the meek shall inherit the earth”. Can you help us and bring this vision to birth?

The carvings on the early 8th Century Bewcastle Cross depict creatures protected by, and feeding on, the fruit of the vine. Christ called his church “the vine”, restored humanity. In other words, our calling is to be creation’s blessing. Not its curse! We want to give expression to this vision of Christ and our forebears.

We have found a farm less than a mile from Bewcastle Church, but we don’t have the money to buy it. We have been promised a gift of £140,000 if we can raise the rest, but we need another £480,000 to reach our goal. We have a few weeks to find the money….

Will you help and be part of the solution? Please click on the Donate button to the right.

To find out more, please explore the rest of this site.

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Meeting with Diocese

Meeting today with representatives of Carlisle diocese to discuss proposal submitted at the beginning of June to purchase a Bewcastle farm for the land-based House of Prayer.

The conclusion of the meeting was that the diocese wants the proposal to pass formally through deanery synod and become integrated into the deanery Mission Action Plan. Also a financial forecast and business plan is required before it can then be submitted to the Diocesan Board of Finance committee.

In other words, although the diocese is keen to explore the future possibility of a land-based House of Prayer, the proposal to purchase this farm is not accepted: the process will take at least 6 months, with no guarantee of a positive outcome at the end. The owners, who are in poor health, cannot wait on our processes, and it would be unfair to ask them to. Indeed, we were told to “lay B. Farm on the altar.”

The opportunity to purchase this farm, as far as the diocese is concerned, has been missed.

However, there is still time for us to do it together. Can we raise the necessary finances from donations, given that we will not use any form of Lottery funding? Is there sufficient support and interest from enough people? We need £620,000 to start. We have been promised a donation of £140,000 if we can obtain the rest…

If you are able and willing, please help using the ‘donate’ button at the side.

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Proposal Submitted

On Friday 1st June we submitted a 12-page proposal to Carlisle Diocese offering a possible way forward for the development of the House of Prayer/rural Minster. Bishop James Newcome had requested this while visiting the area during Maddy Prior’s festival.

The basic premise is that a rectory is sold, plus either:

  1. sale of one other redundant vicarage within the deanery, or
  2. personal loan to top up funds

This is to enable the purchase and refurbishment of 115 acre farm, about 3/4 mile from Bewcastle church, the ancient site of an early Saxon monastery from around the time of St Cuthbert (to whom the church is dedicated). The potential for a community to grow on this site is tremendous. Hydro-energy could be developed on the beck running through the land, straw-bale accommodation built, wood fuel and food grown, hospitality offered, especially in yurts/benders/tents. And prayer offered 4 times a day in the regular rhythm of the offices. The large new barns would make great spaces in which to work, developing practical skills, and the old lime kiln brought back into operation to lime some of the land. Woodland could be established on the upper land and the wetland area expanded to additionally provide water storage for potable and hydro-power use.

We have a meeting with the Archdeacon and Diocesan Secretary scheduled for 20th June on which it all hangs. Please join us in prayer for the Spirit of God to prevail…

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A Potential Property?

We have identified a farm in the Bewcastle parish with the potential to be the House of Prayer. We are in the process of drawing up a proposal to submit to the diocese, showing capital and renovation costs in the hope that we are able to raise sufficient funds.

It has to be said that time is not on our side – and the CofE works slowly and conservatively. However, the Bishop has offered his support for the proposal so there is hope! Nevertheless, if someone else makes an acceptable offer to the vendors before us, that will be it. Can we find enough money? We need £500k…

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