Thursday, May 15, 2014

About the Community of Francis and Clare

Our founder, Father Scott Baldwin of All-Saints Episcopal Church in San Francisco, California, has described us this way:

The Home Communities of Francis & Clare (informally organized as Third Order, also known as Householder Order) are post-denominational communities of persons who desire to share a common, yet individual, spiritual journey.  Those who are and have been a part of this community come to us from a variety of traditions and have felt the deep stirring of the Spirit and sought out a safe place, a community, where these traditions could be freely explored, celebrated and shared in a climate of mutual respect.  We are Christian, neo-Christian, Jewish, Pagan/Wiccan, Native American and more...  it is our common desire to move beyond these labels in this developing post-denominational era.

We are an all-inclusive home-based community of people who share a journey of faith through the Creation-centered tradition*.  We voice anew the wisdom of the Earth’s many spiritual traditions, and our gatherings bring them alive through stories, ritual and kinship.

The well-known and universal appeal of the creation-centered mystics, Francis and Clare of Assisi, has been the calling card which made it possible to bring this diverse community together and provide a setting where we have been able to share a creation-centered ritual in a deeply ecumenical way.  The writings of theologian Matthew Fox and others have given us hope and encouragement along the way.

The stories we tell are both the stories of those women and men of faith as found in the Bible and other sacred texts, as well as our own continuing unfolding stories.  We accept the truths revealed to humankind through Reason and Science and we honor and observe the festivals and rituals of a variety of ancient and contemporary traditions.

In rites, gestures, song and movement we open the marvelous Gift of Creation to reveal the Divine unconditional love for all people.  These rites are principally:

* Baptism -  Immersion in Creation's Grace
* Eucharist - Thanksgiving for the Daily Bread of Life and Cup of Divine Companionship
* Anointing - Touch for Healing, Commitment and Transition

Other rites include Home Blessing, Reconciliation, Marriage/Companionship, Confirmation, Burial and other Rites of Passage.

Our usual ritual is called "Thanks & Praise" which has evolved out of the experience of gathering and sharing deeply ecumenical ritual over the past 4 years.  Some highlights include an adaptation of Francis' "Canticle of the Sun" as an opening rite creating sacred space by honoring the directions and the elements; the sharing of Wisdom followed by an opportunity for personal sharing; and an earth-centered eucharistic "feast" which begins with a gathering of the elements [earth, air, fire, water] from the four directions and a new "earthy" Sanctus:  "Beauty, Beauty."

We gather for these stories and rituals in the inclusive, hospitable atmosphere of our homes.  In these small, intimate gatherings we seek to foster and encourage the spiritual journey of each person regardless of gender, race, age, nationality, current or previous religious affiliation or affectional orientation.


Though we are egalitarian in nature, our Home Communities are richly blessed with the gifts, talents and training of enablers ordained in both historic and contemporary traditions.

We are comprised of both ordained and non-ordained persons and open to all without exceptions.  You are welcome among us as a participant in the CFC whether it is through a physical presence or a spiritual connection elsewhere.  Hospitality for visits to our communities can be arranged with prior notice.

As a community we seek to network with other like-minded home-based community groups locally, nationally and internationally.
You are invited.

The Community of Francis & Clare invites you to share our vision of Divinity-at-home-with-us.  Emmanuel.

If you hunger for Spiritual Kinship and sharing without power trips...
If you thirst for the Grace abundant in all Creation broken and shared...
If you long for a glimpse of a world charged with unconditional Love...
Why not join with us?

***

The above was written by Father Scott Baldwin in April 1996.  He went Home to be with the Lord in 1998 and we carry on the tradition in our own way here at Lothlorien House.  We welcome those who share our interest in deep ecumenism and the Franciscan style of spirituality to contact us.

*Creation Spirituality: Hope for Mother Earth and Her Creatures.

“Creation Spirituality starts with original blessing, rather than original sin. It regains the understanding that our original and true nature of all things, is ‘very good.’ Although this good original self has been obscured and distorted by alienation and sin, it is still our authentic self. Redemption comes to us, not as a power alien to our natures, but as an ‘aha’ experience that puts us back in touch with our authentic natures. Redemption also reconnects us with our relational nexus. We reconnect with the relationship of reason and intuition, consciousness and embodiment, ourselves and others, humans, animals, plants.

Creation Spirituality unleashes vitality, creativity and playfulness. It is generous, mutually affirming of diversity, and noncompetitive. Unlike fall-redemption spirituality it does not set up competitive dualism between females and males, single and married, heterosexual and homosexual, white and black, Christian and non-Christian, us and them. It is egalitarian and pluralistic, rejoicing in the manyness of beings that interconnect in a rich cosmic community. It allows us to lay aside our defenses, our needs to control, dominate and destroy the other. It is the spirituality that is needed for an ecological, peacemaking and just world community.” [Reuther, Rosemary Radford, Creation Spirituality, Summer 1994, p. 11]

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