To know where you are going, you need to know where you have been.
Abbey Way is a church: in its thirteenth year. Yet as young as we are, we have been firmly grafted into the faithful story of the people of God. To understand who we are as community of faith, we need to know the people and circumstances that helped build the foundation of who we are today. As you listen and read, you will notice a similar thread in the stories of those who we are closely connected to us in the history of the Church. You will meet people who faithfully sought God in the context of community with a desire to practice their faith in a way that would make a difference in the world.
St. Benedict and His Rule
Abbey Way Covenant Church’s structure is gleaned from the wisdom of the Benedictine tradition begun in 500 AD by a holy man named Benedict and his followers. These men and women strived to learn to live as Christian community. At the fall of the Roman Empire, with barbarian invaders threatening at their doorsteps, Benedict compiled his teachings. His small guide for common life is referred to as the Rule of Benedict. Abbey Way has loosely adapted Benedict's rule to form our life together in our shared spiritual practices, corporate rhythms and intentional relationships.
Luther and the Pietists: Spener, Francke, Zinzendorf
We are also a member of the Covenant Church (formerly named Mission Friends) with its rich pietistic tradition. Growing out of the renewal—and ultimately the reformation—of the church in the 1500s, the Covenant’s familial connections are traced to Martin Luther (1483-1546) father of the Lutherans and with the lesser known, Philipp Jakob Spener (1635-1705), August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) and Nicholas Ludwig: Count von Zinzendorf (1700-1760), German Pietists of Godly nobility with long reaching insight.
A Growing Movement
The story of our history does not end with the Pietists. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, many changes were continuing to occur in Europe. With an increasing movement from rural to urban setting, there was a burgeoning population who needed jobs, different from what was familiar to them. This was true in Sweden also where the renewal movement within the Lutheran State Church gave birth to the early Mission Friends. As the Swedish immigrants came to America, they brought with them their heritage, founding what is now known as the Covenant denomination in the United States in the late-1800s.
Abbey Way and the Pietists
Abbey Way finds affinity with the early Pietists and the renewal movement that flowed from humble beginnings in Sweden so long ago. As passionate followers of Jesus, they discovered what it meant to worship and support each other separate from what was familiar to them. As a church, this willingness to venture off the known path into the the call of Jesus is part of our history also. With a desire to know and be known by others in our community in our devotion for Christ, we find kinship with the pietist impulse and its continuing history as it is has grown from the solid branches from the tree of Christ’s Church.
What will this new cycle of church history bring? Prayerfully we respond: more of the same.