Emery House: a pause

Dear Friends:

In 2019 the community embarked on a series of conversations we called Renewing Our Foundations. With the help of a consultant, we looked to our past and present, as a way to plan our future. To help us focus those conversations we decided to pause ministry at Emery House, with the anticipation of a resumption of ministry there the following year. Little did we know that the pandemic and lockdown would completely disrupt those plans.

During those conversations, and in the following years, we spoke extensively about our hopes, dreams and plans for ministry at Emery House. We were excited at the end of 2022 when we made the decision to send three Brothers to Emery House to resume community life there, reopen Emery House to guests, and begin a renewed ministry there, one more deeply embedded in the land. At the time we knew this would be both a challenge and a risk, but they were ones we were prepared to take as a community.

Over the last 10 months of Brothers living at Emery House, further developing the garden, and once again welcoming guests, we have been encouraged by many of you. Over the same span of time, several Brothers have departed the community and we have been stretched beyond our capacity at both the monastery and Emery House. Since the summer a question that has often been raised among us has been, is it currently possible to sustain our life in two different locations? Sadly, we have come to the conclusion that it is not.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, Brothers Keith and Jack will return to the monastery to resume their residence within the larger community, and take up new responsibilities. While there will not be a community of Brothers living permanently at Emery House, our hope is that on occasion we will be able to host retreat groups there. Those plans are still in the works.

While this is disappointing news, I remain full of hope for our future. In spite of this setback, I believe the risen Lord is inviting us into a future full of possibility, just as he did the disciples on that first Easter morning when he told the faithful women at the tomb to go and tell my [disciples] to go to Galilee; there they will see me.’[1] I am confident that as we move into our future, which is after all God’s future, the risen Lord will meet us.

Br. James Koester

[1] Matthew 28: 10