CHRIST OUR HOPE COMMUNITY SYDNEY:
Christ Our Hope Community is an intentional network of Companions, inspired by the Celtic monastic tradition within the Australian Church of Antioch – one of many global Independent Catholic Churches – within the Old Catholic tradition.
As a Faith Community, it sees itself as part of a wider church movement, called by the Gospel Mandate of Jesus Christ, to be a catalyst for “renewal and reform” within the life of the People of God.
Within the catholic tradition, therefore, we articulate who we are, as we take our place within the church universal – the wider church community of Jesus Christ.
THE FIVE MARKS OF MISSION (*) :
The “mission” of Christ Our Hope Community is the creating, reconciling and transforming action of God ; and the five marks of mission helps it to think locally and globally, as it grounds all of its work in one or more of the following :
1. Witness to Christ’s saving, forgiving and reconciling love for all people
2. Build welcoming, transforming communities of faith
3. Stand in Solidarity with the poor and the needy
4. Challenge violence, injustice and oppression and work for peace and reconciliation
5. Protect, care for and renew life on our planet
2003 – Christ Our Hope Community began its humble life in November of 2003, just three months after Father Peter – one of the founding members – was ordained for ministry. He invited friends to join him on a regular basis for Eucharist/Prayer and Lunch. These were early days in the independent catholic movement within Australia and its story begins with a small, faithful and diverse group as Christ Our Hope Community is formed. Its gathering place was in the very heart of Surry Hills (comprising an inner-City eclectic population) … a meeting room being made available through the kindness of residents of social housing in Riley Street. We were deeply grateful to Carmen, an enthusiastic supporter and resident, for allowing us to access the wonderful facilities provided. Over the next few years, our small group continued to grow in our commitment to one another and to those with whom we shared the joys and sorrows, the highs and the lows of life’s varied experiences. Over the ensuing years, there were many highlights, and a struggle or two, as we endeavoured to find our authenticity and relevance to those whom we felt we were called to serve.
2009 – One major celebration in the life of our Community took place in May, 2009, when Margaret, was received into the Community, during our Pentecost Liturgy. Margaret’s family and friends joined Community members in welcoming her ! As we grew and continually tried to discern where God was calling us, we moved to have conversations with others who were walking a similar faith journey to ourselves – we wanted to belong with fellow travellers, while maintaining our own sense of identity and purpose.
2011 – The journey was at times difficult, but our efforts were rewarded when in May of 2011, embraced the relationship of “anamcara” (soulmates), becoming an entity in our own right within a Celtic Monastic tradition, empowering us to be autonomous and self-governing within a consensus model of community. Our association also led us to indirectly to embrace the Old Catholic tradition through the Australian Church of Antioch. The death in October 2011, of one of our Foundation Members, Carmen, had a profound effect on us and we will always be indebted to her for her loyal support and faithful service.
2012 – Our last gathering took place at Surry Hills sadly, not long after the Passing of our dearly missed friend and Community Member, when Housing NSW, resumed the space we occupied, returning it to the Residents for their exclusive use there. At this time, we grieved two Passing’s – a cherished friend and companion, and a home! However, we were never far from God’s faithfulness to us, for soon after leaving our Gathering Place of 9 years, we were blessed to have a new home within the ACON building in Elizabeth Street, Strawberry Hills, a neighbouring suburb a stone’s throw from where we had been … The new facility provided a flexible meeting space and gave us an opportunity to meet other groups who had similar access to the multi-purpose site.
2013 – The Episcopal Ordination of Father Peter in August of 2013 presented another important milestone in the life of our Community and saw the establishment of Home Gatherings, in addition to monthly Liturgies at Elizabeth Street.
2017 – In keeping with our Celtic tradition, newly established “Wells” were developed to encourage greater spiritual ownership of the “domestic church”. Each Well now had a Custodian-Guardian. Wells were opened up and developed not only in the Sydney geographic area but also The Blue Mountains, Central Coast, and rural New England areas.
2020 – Bishop Peter was honoured with the title “Archbishop” … awarded him by Archbishop Frank Bugge, Primate of the Australian Church of Antioch, and its National and International Synod of Archbishops. In representing the ACoA, Archbishop Peter, Shepherd-Guardian, and Bishop within Christ Our Hope Community, is made responsible for the Province of NSW. This provides another opportunity for evangelisation and mission …
2021 – Christ Our Hope Community continues to be committed to those around us as we strive to make sense of this changing world. The Risen Christ is our Hope and as a sacramental Community we uphold the Ministries of Initiation, Healing and Vocation, offering additional pastoral care activities …
++Peter Johnson c.h.
(*) Source: ABM Australia, 2016