Who we are ......
The ORDER OF THE ASCENSION founded in 1983 has helped ground and center its members in their daily life and their roles as parish leaders and developers.
Members take a three year promise "to seek the presence of Jesus Christ in the people, things and circumstances of life through stability, obedience and conversion of life." The person is clothed in the cassock on the first taking of the Promise. The cross of the Order is given when the Promise is taken a second time with life long intention.
The development of parish churches grounded in Anglican pastoral and ascetical theology, especially Benedictine spirituality. We also draw on the fields of organization development and organizational psychology. Our charism undergirds our community's life of liturgical worship, the spiritual dynamics of the Promise, and our mutual friendship.
A five day gathering each year for spiritual retreat, reflection the varoius roles we play in parish revitilization, social time and business. Usually held in a week near the Feast of the Ascension.
Each member takes responsibility for their own spiritual life in a manner that fits their situation, reflects the Promise and our common commitments, and includes listening for the wisdom of God and others in the creation and in the longing of their hearts.
A Benedictine spirituality grounds the Order's life.
Feast Days of the Order
There are four days that are especially connected with either our establishment as a community or with our spirituality and ethos. Professed Members, those in formation and in discernment are asked to commemorate these days--preferably with a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, or at least within a public daily office.
Feast of the Ascension - Presiding at, or participating in, the Holy Eucharist
Commitment to Form the Order - January 8, 1983: Eleven people ended their retreat before the altar at St. Helena's Convent by making a commitment to participate in the formation of the Order. On Ascension Day 1980 the booklet Stay in the City was first published. That booklet was a significant factor in discussions that ran through 1982. In that year a group of priests, seminarians, and laity, most of whom had worked in urban parish ministry in Philadelphia, had a series of conversations about the shape of a dispersed Christian community with a vocation for the revitalization of urban parishes. The discussions brought us together late that year in a day of prayer and planning which concluded with dinner at the old McFeeley's Bar at 11th Avenue and 23rd Street in New York City. A decision was made to establish the Order of the Ascension.
First Taking of the Promise - January 30, 1988: Five professed members and six companions stood before Bishop Roger White, in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd at General Theological Seminary and made the three year promise of the Order: "My promise is to seek the presence of Jesus Christ in the people, things and circumstances of my life through stability, obedience and conversion of life," Fr. Emmett Jarrett, a friend of the community, preached. He called on us to be a sign of contradiction, hope and love to the world, and to the Church. He called us to friendship with God and with each other. "We are created to be God's friends. God made us for that. Christ lived and died as one of us, and went into heaven to take our humanity into the very life of God, and that we might become God's friends. Christian community in general and your form of it in particular is made for friendship and by friendship. We are to foster friendship with God by being friends ourselves."
Benedict of Nursia - July 1
Membership is open to laity, bishops, priests and deacons; to baptized people of any Christian communion. The Order's current membership draws from Arkansas, Florida, Seattle, California, Georgia, Delaware, New York, and North Carolina.
All members receive a significant amount of training in parish development.
The Order is a dispersed Christian community related to the Episcopal Church.
Finances are handled by:
Members paying their own costs for the yearly common life event, i.e., room, meals, cost of materials or outside retreat conductor.
A travel pool in which all participate resulting in everyone paying the same travel cost; and
A yearly pledge toward any administrative costs.
Ascension Press is a ministry of the Order of the Ascension, producing tools for parish development and oversight consistent with the mission and general orientation of the Order.
To Make a Beginning - Emmett Jarrett's sermon at the taking of the Promise -- January 30, 1988
The Ascension - Elizabeth Koenig's sermon at the Renewal of the Promise -- October 5, 1992