Companions of St. John the Evangelist
Rev. Father Sebastian, BA, M. Div. CSF, has been appointed by Archbishop Peter as Prior of the Order of St. John the Evangelist. We wish him every blessing as he goes forward in his new ministry. Prior Sebastian has been a friend of the Archbishop for over thirty years. Father Sebastian can be reached by electronic mail at email@example.com
The Constitution of the Companions of Saint John the Evangelist
Introduction and Purpose:
The Companions of Saint John the Evangelist (CSJE) has come into being toallow Christians a Prayerful Fellowship in which the common bonds of Jesus’ Love may be enhanced and promoted through the Witness and Light of Saint John the Evangelist. As followers of Jesus Christ the Risen, we are commended to be a community who will bring the Saving Help of Him Who first loved us to all God’s children, wherever they may be both physically and spiritually.
The Companions of Saint John the Evangelist (CSJE) is a fellowship of prayer-partners, sponsored and under the patrimony of the Independent Anglican Church, Canada Synod. The direction of the CSJE will uphold both the Canons of the Independent Anglican Church and the theological/liturgical expression found in the Book of Common Prayer. Although the Independent Anglican Church will have full authority in matters relating to the CSJE, the CSJE is open to all, regardless of denominational affiliation, who are seeking for a spiritual connection in obedience to His Word.
We adhere to the Gospel message and, in particular, to Saint John the Evangelist’s calling from a time long ago, to bring Light and Life to those around us. We are a Christian community of outreach and hope to a world in need.
Our prayers will join with countless others who have gone before, in the ageless hymn of praise and glorification, by way of ancient prayers from the much beloved Book of Common Prayer, as well as other traditional and scriptural means. We will be traditional yet unique, offering Christians a world-wide network of Faith. We will affirm the timeless elements of Scripture which shows its readers the Way of Righteousness.
Structure and Membership:
The CSJE will be presided over by a Prior who will be directly under the Authority of the Archbishop of the Independent Anglican Church, Canada Synod. When there are sufficient female members (10 or 12) to warrant a separate structure, the male and female members will be restructured into two parallel branches of the Society with a Prioress being appointed for the women’s branch. The Prior/Prioress of the Society will maintain the dignity and genuine Love of Our Saviour by his/her outreach to the community by way of nurturing the Faith. The Prior/Prioress will be duly elected by a two-thirds majority of the members, chosen in recognition of gifts to enable the Faith Community’s witness to be advanced. His/her appointment will be ratified by the Archbishop who will install and bless the Prior/Prioress.
There will be three distinct levels of involvement to which a member may progress through prayer and the individual’s call to work in the Lord’s Vineyard as a member of the CSJE. Each level would include a deeper commitment to the Gospel and the purposes of the Society. This is an offering of oneself for the work of Prayer and no fees will be charged to or by any member. A free-will offering could be made towards the efforts of the Society, but should not hamper an individual from becoming a member.
1) Enquirer: The initial stage of introduction and work of the CSJE. The introduction would entail, but not be limited to, contact with the Prior and reading of information that the enquirer will receive on this ministry. An application form will accompany correspondence but no pressure will be given to join. After prayerful discernment, the applicant should reply to the Prior who will act upon acceptance of an application. The time frame for this first phase will not exceed six months.
2) Oblate: Following the Enquirer stage and acceptance of an application, the Prior/Prioress will seek, with the help of the applicant’s clergyman (or other spiritual advisor), to seal the covenant of the CSJE’s work to the applicant by way of formal reception into the Society’s life. Formal admittance would occur within the context of the Divine Office or the Holy Eucharist and be considered an Offering to God. Each member will be presented with a simple white candle as a reminder that he/she should have the Light of Christ central to our work within the Society at all times. An Oblate should partake of the Eucharist at least four times a year, Christmas, Easter,Pentecost and All Saints Day and maintain the days of fasting, abstinence and prayer as outlined in the Book of Common Prayer. A bi-monthly Prayer list will be sent to each member so that we are “one in the Spirit”. It is hoped that a newsletter would accompany the prayer list and submissions from members will be gladly received so that the whole community may be built up as the Holy Spirit speaks to us individually and collectively.
3) Professed: After the successful completion of a course of study, work, and prayer, the applicant will be entitled to a full Profession to the Companions of Saint John the Evangelist.The Professed state requires the applicant to pray the Divine Offices of Mattins andEvensong and to maintain the CSJE’s purpose through outreach. Added to the Divine Office, leading Christian worship services would be an aim for lay professed members. The Profession of the applicant would be held on or about the Feast of Saint John the Evangelist (December 27th). Usually, the Profession vows would be taken by the Prior/Prioress or a Bishop of the Independent Anglican Church, Canada Synod. Professed members will be invested with a cross Society’s initials on the reverse (back) and praying hands on the obverse (front).
1) Enquirer: There are no commitments within the Enquirer stage other than to pray for the leading of the Holy Spirit. Suggested readings would include the selected scripture passages as outlined in the Table of Lessons following either a daily and/or weekly regime. At the time that an Enquirer completes his/her application for admission into the Society, a prayer-list will be sent to the applicant so that we might pray on a daily basis as Companions on The Journey. The following Collect will be used daily by all levels of the CSJE after the completion of an application:
The Collect for Saint John the Evangelist Feast Day:
Merciful Lord, we beseech Thee to cast Thy bright beams of light upon the Church that it might be enlightened by the doctrine of Thy blessed Apostle and Evangelist Saint John and may so walk in the light of Thy truth that it may at length, attain to the light of everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
2) Oblate: Vows of an Oblate will be of a temporary nature. Traditional vows within any Order, Religious Institute or Societyhave always been poverty, chastity and obedience. The CSJEvows, whether as an Oblate or a Professed Member will maintain the three traditional vows but in the context of a modern Religious living secularly. Vows are meant to draw a person deeper into a living relationship to Jesus Christ and must always be seen as a discipline and not as unattainable. CSJE members will uphold the spiritual benefits of such vows on a personal level.
Poverty: The traditional view was to forsake any material wealth whereby earthly gains were counted as vanity compared to the heavenly Home prepared for Christians. Jesus’ frequent discourse throughout the Gospels on looking after our brothers and sisters should lead us to fulfill His Words and Example. The adage, “do all you can for whomever you can” would be another model of poverty. To feed those less fortunate, care for the widows and orphans, to visit the aged are just some of the many ways CSJE members can empty themselves for the sake of the Gospel. Each Oblate will be asked to fulfill some example of Christian outreach as their personal vow to poverty. Again, this will be on a personal level and as the Holy Spirit leads. Our commitment to daily prayers for people in all walks of life is another example of our outreach.
Chastity: The Book of Common Prayer outlines in The Catechism the question: What is your duty to your neighbor? (Page 548, BCP 1962) Our duty as Christians living the New Life is to keep our bodies in temperance, soberness and chastity. That is to say, live a life that reflects Jesus living and abiding in your heart. If we are in a married state, maintain the marital vows which were taken. If single, this means living in a state of physical chastity until marriage. Clean hearts, hands and thoughts should be the model for all members of this Society.
Obedience: The authority under which the CSJE will operate and seek to be under dominion would be God as the Supreme ruler of our lives. Obedience to His Word and Call will be the priority for each member’s life and witness. As the Companions of Saint John the Evangelist is governed and sanctioned by the Independent Anglican Church, Canada Synod, we pray to be submissive to its clergy as they are governed by God under their ordination vows. The CSJE will respect the Canon Laws which bind the Church together under Jesus Christ our Lord.
3) Professed: The professed member will follow the discipline as outlined for Oblates with the exception that the professed members will use the Divine Morning and Evening Prayers daily, whenever possible, and include the Saint John the Evangelist Collect. Mid-day Prayers, Compline, or Family Prayers, together with the Collect of St. John the Evangelist, are encouraged, if possible. The Divine Office should be read on Sundays if one is unable to attend congregational worship. It is suggested that Professed Lay members would read Divine Office if no clergy are available. The Professed member will rule his/her life by Days of Fasting, Abstinence and Solemn Prayer as outlined in the BCP.
4) Designation: Inquirers may not use the initials CSJE. Oblates may use the initials Ob/CSJE where appropriate. Professed Members may use the initials CSJE where appropriate. When used, Ob/CSJE or CSJE precede initials for academic degrees as in the following example: The Rev’d John Evangelist, CSJE, ThD.