The Order of St. Stephen

A few months back, I mentioned that I was hammering out ideas for an emerging generations religious order in the Diocese of Olympia. Actually, I've been hammering out a copy of the Order of St. Stephen, New Zealand, and beginning to recruit members for a potential Fall Kickoff. All are invited. Here's the project outline:

Pioneer Mission Project Proposal:

The Order of St. Stephen, USA

Community Principles:

In Communion with the See of Canterbury, under the Episcopal oversight and protection of the Bishops of the Diocese of Olympia, and in Fellowship with the Order of St. Stephen, New Zealand, the Order is:

1) A prophetic Community comprised of individuals aged 18-30: Continually (re)visioning the religious life in witness to the Church and the Culture.
2) Committed to the principles of Prayer, Community, and Service.
3) Committed to an individually-determined Rule of Life: Rules of life are shaped by the principles of Prayer, Community and Service, and committed to for the duration of OSS membership, but written by each member in recognition of the variety of individual callings and challenges.
4) ‘Third Order’ Religious in the Franciscan model: women and men, single or in committed relationships, who, following ordinary professions, are called to a time of intentional commitment to prayer, community, and service in fellowship with other members of the Order.
5) Incarnationally Missional. Members commit to serve the Church, parish, and local community while developing their own faiths and vocations.
a) Members will commit to serve in at least one ministry role in their parish community.
b) Members will commit to work in at least one service role in their geographic/neighbourhood community. Service among those who live in the “abandoned places of empire” is strongly encouraged, as is service alleviating the “groaning of creation”.
6) Committed to the principle of Reciprocal Mentorship. Members establish and maintain formal mentoring, directive relationships throughout their membership in the Community. Mentors will be capable spiritual directors who understand the principles of the OSS. Conversely, members commit to mentor others through the communication and dissemination of their experiences and learning through online and live venues.
7) A Temporary Commitment. Through participation in the OSS, members may discern a calling to continued participation in other formal religious communities, and may continue to live according to their Rule of Life and community principles. However, because this is an intentionally prophetic order for the young, at 30 years of age members must resign membership and become alumni. Community commitments must be made for a minimum duration of one year, and may be carried on for any timeframe desired beyond that, up to 30 years of age.


Members are encouraged to live out this vocation:

In participation in OSS Community (online and live) networks, retreats and projects.
In participation in corporate worship with their local parish.
In formal internships locally or internationally.
In connection with their sisters and brothers in the Order of St. Stephen, New Zealand.
In redemptive work in their natural environment/Oikos.
In incarnational participation in Christ in their regular professions and studies.
In participation with other religious traditions, Christian or otherwise.
In discernment for other religious orders.
In intentional community housing arrangements.
In any other situation deemed appropriate for expression of the principles of the Order.

Project Timeline:

July-August 2008: establish support/project approval from the Diocese of Olympia and New Zealand OSS. Begin recruiting OSS Pioneers.
September-Dec 2008: Publicize/locate interested potential OSS members: 6-8 US members w/written Rules of Life and living according to Order principles by December. Establish online connections between US members and NZ members through Facebook, Anglimergent.ning.com, etc.
Jan 2009: Official Commissioning of Order members, begin process of establishing formal recognition by national church according to Canon III:14:2 of the Episcopal Church.
2009 ongoing: In conjunction with New Zealand OSS, organize ministry exchange/pilgrimage to New Zealand for late 2009/early 2010. Using young adult and Anglimergent networks, online and live, establish membership outside of the Diocese of Olympia. Apply for funding through grant sources for OSS administration, advertisement and action.

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