What differentiates Contemplative Fire from other communities?
We are a creative, eclectic, contemplative Christian community. Each of those words is intentionally chosen to reflect some of our way of being in the world. Our Vision and Values describe in more detail how we seek to live. Some of our core values are ‘wonder’, ‘listening’, ‘acceptance’, ‘authenticity’ and ‘community’. Our shared but individual Rhythm of Life of being/knowing/doing is the rope that holds us together. Please look at our Vision and Values to see more clearly the kind of community we seek to be.
What is the Rhythm of Life for Contemplative Fire?
Contemplative Fire encourages its companions to slow down, listen to the Spirit of God and have the courage to allow their lives to be shaped by what they hear. To assist us in this process we offer our Rhythm of Life entitled “Travelling Light – Dwelling Deep”. It integrates the elements of Being/Knowing/Doing or Prayer/Study/Action into our daily life. We encourage our Companions to have three practices: contemplative practice/creative practice/compassionate practice. Each Companion will craft their individual rhythm within this framework. Please see our Rhythm of Life for more details.
Does Contemplative Fire welcome people who are not Christian?
New friends from different cultural and religious perspectives are welcomed. We try to practice respectful listening aware we have much to learn from everyone. We are a Christian community so visitors will encounter scripture in some of our groups and our monthly worship has a communion meal as part of it.
If you’re Christian, does Contemplative Fire belong to a denomination?
Contemplative Fire was created by an Anglican priest, Rev. Philip Roderick in the Diocese of Oxford UK as Fresh Expression of church. It was seeded in Canada by Rev. Anne Crosthwait and an ecumenical team. People from many denominations, and also those who have no denominational affiliation attend Contemplative Fire. Because it was created within the Anglican Communion it is always respectful when entering a new area to connect with the local Bishop.
Where do most of your members come from?
The founding community is located in the UK. Please see www.contemplativefire.org for details on variety of communities they offer.
In Canada we currently we have over 400 people on our national database which stretches from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island as well as some international followers. The majority live in southern Ontario. Approximately ¾ of our active members in GTA are engaged with a local church as well as Contemplative Fire. Another quarter have Contemplative Fire as their main faith community. Many of them are people who are seeking an experiential and deeper form of worship.
Besides Toronto, we have a Contemplative Fire community in Kingston, Ontario and others are in a process of discernment.
Do you include children in your membership and worship?
Children are always welcome at our monthly Gatherings, but we seldom have any join us. We hope some day to offer specific activities to help children develop the contemplative portion of their minds.
How would you describe a typical member of Contemplative Fire?
We are people who gravitate toward stillness, spaciousness, simplicity, story telling, creativity, and experiential learning. We enjoy participating in learning, listening and learning from the wisdom within each other. We are open to discovering more of Jesus and hearing his truth wherever it is spoken. We tend to be people who are asking questions about life, seeking meaning and purpose. Although individuals, we value a sense of community. We like being together with like-souled people. We like to make a difference in the world, to bring God’s sense of presence, peace, justice and healing.
Your groups have interesting names. What do they mean? How can I know where I might fit in?
Our names are reflective of our exploration with metaphor and paradox and our simple delight with words and playfulness! You’ll find a full listing of our small groups, with simple descriptions here.
We hope you enjoy our name ‘Contemplative Fire’ and the paradox and images it arouses!
What is your organizational structure? Who oversees the community and it’s members?
As a Canadian charitable organization, we have Board who is legally responsible for us. Currently we have a Community Leader who is supported by an Admin Assistant and a Bookkeeper. Our small groups are tended by some of our Companions on the Way. In the last three years we have been exploring a different style of organizational structure which is more reflective of our nature. Frederic LaLoux has described it in his book ‘Reinventing Organizations’. Our study of this book has taken us more deeply into owning our purpose, living our values and being self- managed. We still are learning but this is the direction we are heading. While still maintaining our legal requirements, we hope to be less hierarchical and a more self- managing community.
What is the purpose of Contemplative Fire?
“To create a community of Christ at the edge”
Contemplative Fire was created to give birth to many healthy, inquiring, respectful, spiritually nurturing local Christian communities. Places where people could slow down, learn to listen to God and with community support have the courage to follow as the Spirit directs their lives.
Our communities are to provide an alternative to traditional church. They are small and intimate, a place of creativity and experiential spiritual learning that is transformational.
A different place, for different people who seek to make a different world.
One day we asked our community, “Why has God birthed Contemplative Fire at this time?” One response was to describe a wave pounding on a shore and how over years that wave shapes the shoreline. Contemplative Fire was birthed as part of the wave of the Spirit of God in 21st century, a wave that pounds at the shoreline of the culture and the traditional church. We are a community of Christ at the edge, called to continually wash upon the shoreline shaping it into a Spirit led life.
What does it mean to be a Member of the Contemplative Fire Community?
Whenever we draw together for Gatherings, Pilgrimages, ‘Living the Mystery’ or in small groups, we become pilgrims, travelling companions. Some will choose to travel with us for a short time – others will welcome the opportunity for an ongoing adventure with Contemplative Fire, and commit to the longer term.
We offer membership, as Companions on the Way, for those wishing to make a commitment. Each year the community will have a Time of Intention when the members set their spiritual intention for the next year. We commit to following our rhythm of life both personally and in community. We commit to supporting each other spiritually with regular attendance and the community financially with regular contributions. Such commitment is helpful to the individual, and vital to the development of Contemplative Fire, in building a sustainable community of prayer and creative engagement.