The Society of St. John the Evangelist (USA) and The Fellowship of St John (UK)
As a Christian charity The Fellowship of St. John (FSJ) has a very unique and distinct ethos and identity through Father Benson and The Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE). Our ‘identity’ guides, supports and nourishes what we do.
There are only two monks left in SSJE (UK) who are in retirement; the monastery they occupied in London, St. Edward’s House was sold some years ago.
In America though, there is a monastic community SSJE (USA), (www.ssje.org) based in their monastery in Boston and retreat house in rural Massachusetts.
The monastic communities of SSJE – British and American ‘parted ways’ over a hundred years ago so our current link between our two bodies is heartening and strengthening all the time as we explore ways of working together.
Much of their spiritual work can be found in a project they run called ‘Brother Give Us a Word’. (www.ssje.org/word) Each day over 20,000 people across the globe receive an e-mail from the Monks which contains a sentence or paragraph taken from daily sermons in the Monastery chapel; these act as a focus for prayer and reflection.
Our own mission at FSJ; to transform individuals and communities by the grants we make, is complemented by that of SSJE (USA) in the work they undertake. We see this in areas such as vocation development. Another practical example was when our Trust utilised their Lent Programme to supply over a thousand individuals and Churches with printed copies of a booklet to work through during Lent.
A Trustee, (Fr. Andrew Malcolm) is the link person between the two bodies and has visited the monastery. He was privileged to not only become a member of the American fellowship but also accompany four of the monks and a number of the American Fellowship on pilgrimage to The Holy Land in 2016.
A fuller and more detailed explanation of the life and ministry of the monks can be found at their web-site. Suffice it to say they remain a tangible, spiritual link to our core identity and is one we rightly treasure and seek to develop.
THE CROSS WORN BY THE BROTHERS AND FELLOWSHIP MEMBERS IN USA
We find a profound significance for our own lives in what the Gospel of John tells of the Beloved Disciple’s friendship with Jesus and his call to be a witness to the mystery of the Incarnation. We bear the name of Saint John the Evangelist to show the church what is the source of our inspiration and our joy. The brothers’ bronze cross bears an intricate weaving of images from the Johannine writings of the New Testament:
- The mandorla shape of wings surrounding Christ is drawn from images in the Revelation to John and from the Book of the Prophet Malachi (4:2): “The sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.”
- The vine and grape motif (at the base) recalls Jesus’ words about abiding in him: “I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:4-5).
- Bearing the scroll at the feet of Christ is an eagle, the traditional symbol for Saint John the Evangelist, taken from the images of the four living creatures described in the Revelation to John (4:6-8).
- The scroll bears the inscription et verbum caro factum est, “And the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14), recalling the dedication of SSJE to the mystery of the Incarnation.
- In the arms of the cross, the letters IPEV are an acronym (in Latin) for “In the beginning was the Word,” from the Prologue to John’s Gospel.
- The letters SSJE are imprinted in the circle around the cross.
THE FELLOWSHIP OF ST JOHN
While living in community the monks of The Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) were an Order of missionary priests and brothers. In 1920 they formed a circle of associates called the Fellowship of St John (FSJ) who live with a rule of life, support the monks’ and engage in various forms of Christian ministry.
The prayer of the Church, spiritual counsel, pastoral care and teaching are all at the heart of our incarnational and sacramental mission. The monks set up monasteries called Mission Houses across the UK and in Africa, India, the Americas and Japan– they also established parishes, schools, hostels and in South Africa even founded a whole new diocese. The Fellowship Ministries support the continuing need for incarnational mission – as our charity objects put it, for the building of the Kingdom of Christ.
THE FR BENSON SCHOLARSHIP
The scholarship is awarded at St Stephen’s House, University of Oxford and is named after Fr Richard Meux Benson SSJE (1824-1915), founder and first Superior General of The Society of St John the Evangelist. The Fr Benson Scholar is nominated annually by the Principal of St Stephen’s House and will be a seminarian of the college who is preparing for ordained ministry in the Church of England. The value of the scholarship covers university fees and enables higher academic study. St Stephen’s House was founded in 1876 and is an Anglican seminary of the catholic tradition. Over the years many priests who had been formed in the college later became monks of SSJE.
THE ST GEORGE’S TRUST
The Trust gives grants to Anglican clergy, seminarians and students. The awards are currently worth up to £350. Each year the Trustees set a budget for the total amount that can be awarded and distribution is made until the limit is reached. We therefore encourage application early in the calendar year.
Clergy The grants for stipendiary clergy are for those taking sabbaticals. For self-supporting clergy (for whom official sabbaticals are rarely given) grants are available for recognised study. The grant will customarily contribute towards travel and accommodation costs involved in study. A brief letter of confirmation from a cleric’s bishop, archdeacon or continuing education office is required to support the application.
THE HOLY CHILDHOOD
The charity makes grants for Christian ministry/education in schools or churches with children aged 4-11. The Society of St John the Evangelist helped found and guide other Religious communities – among them The Sisterhood of the Holy Childhood. The Sisterhood was established in 1895 in a convent next to the SSJE Mission House in Cowley. It was a community for female qualified teachers who worked in many local elementary schools.
Applications are considered by the Trustees quarterly at the next available meeting. Please appreciate that the Trust may receive more applications than it is able to respond to with grants.
BERNARD MIZEKI GRANTS
These grants are available for lay ministries and the training and development of lay ministry. The grants bear the name of Bernard Mikeki (c.1861-1896). He was born Mamiyeli Mitseki Gwambe in Portuguese East Africa (Mozambique) and around the age of 12 he moved to Cape Town. He was educated by the monks of the Society of St John the Evangelist at their night school. He excelled as a student, particularly as a linguist. He mastered English, French, high Dutch and eight African languages – later in his life his work as a translator of sacred texts was pioneering and invaluable. He was baptised in 1886 and took the name Bernard. He then went to work at St Columba’s Hostel in Cape Town – a shelter run by SSJE to house African men particularly to protect them against alcoholism.
Mrs Linden Sheffield
Direct Phone: 01494 928348 or 07739 012459
Fellowship of Saint John (UK) Trust Association
65/68 Leadenhall Street
London, EC3A 2AD