With – creating a rhythm of prayer for young people

...or what to do when some nuns give you a free convent!

CTE’s Principle Officer for Mission and Evangelism, Rev Dr Ben Aldous, shares his recent visit to the With community…

The With Community, based at All Hallows, Ditchingham, have an ecumenical vision to build a rhythm of prayer for children and young people across England. Branding themselves as the first bespoke ecumenical Christian community serving young people in the UK they were established just two years ago in an old convent. Being gifted the convent for their use was a fascinating process.

Jamie Cutteridge one of community’s founder’s said: “‘All Hallows, Ditchingham has been home to a religious life of prayer, service and community for more than 150 years, but recently the site has become too big for the remaining sisters. They made an incredibly brave and generous decision to give the site away. Plenty of people submitted ideas, and so did we, a bunch of youth workers with this simple vision – to keep that life of prayer, service and community going, but reimagined among young people. Terrifyingly, they liked the idea and have given us a long-term, rent-free lease!”

My colleague Shermara and I spent the day with the community listening to their vision to bring young people (aged roughly 10-25) and their leaders together for retreats so that different church traditions might encounter one another. The former convent, sited just north of Bungay, comprises four houses and a huge chapel, surrounded by ten acres of beautiful grounds. These grounds, situated in rural Norfolk, are an ideal setting for young people and their leaders to find rest, join in the rhythms of prayer, shared meals, working in the gardens, orchards or talking a walk across the fields and paths; finding space to connect with God.

CTE’s Shermara Fletcher, With Community founders James Fawcett and Jamie Cutteridge

I was struck that the With community are carrying on a tradition of prayer, in the same chapel where it has been continuous for over a 150 years. It’s a rhythm that embeds itself into the land and gives hope for future generations of young people and their leaders.

A small residential community is forming with newly appointed Dean, Rev Jutta Brueck, leading a rhythm of prayer morning, noon and night. She is joined by two other recent arrivals. The site will continue to be redeveloped with the main convent needing around £1 million of investment to make it an environmentally sustainable space where young people and their leaders can gather.

Explore the With Community on their website.

Contact the With Community by email.

Young Adults at Forum 2022

CTE wants to ensure a significant presence of young adults (18 to 30 years old) at Forum 2022. If you are a Member Church, Body in Association or an Intermediate Body (county or city Churches Together group) find out how you can get extra places for your young adults to be delegates.