Latimer Minster was founded in 2010, by Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing and a small group of pioneers as one of the first new attempts in Britain to reimagine the ancient Minster model for the contemporary world. Reaching out to create new forms of church for younger adults and those who may find traditional forms of church inaccessible, it has brought together a holistic approach to nature and the land, a missionary monastic outlook, and a commitment to local worshipping communities which gather around hospitality, and a respect for a life shaped by God's Word.
Now, as we adapt to the new realities, opportunities and challenges of 2020, as a charity, we are focussing on fewer areas of activity, whilst continuing to maintain our founding principles of 'Reaching, Raising, Releasing, and Resourcing the Rising Generations'. The areas can be summed up under four headings of Digital Minster, Minster Partnerships and Projects, Minster Fellows, and Mission Theology.
The website is currently under development, so please bear with us.
When Latimer Minster was formed in 2010, we were begun on the church framework of a monastic community, with the legal underpinning of company and charity law. Starting in a home, and in shared spaces and homes, the vision of being a contemporary minster to reach and engage with the rising generations was forefront in our minds.
Reaching, Raising, Releasing and Resourcing the Rising Generations
Since the inception of Latimer Minster in 2010, the charity has spearheaded, at different times, elements of digital innovation in training and equipping the Christian church for ministry - from leadership training online and founding a small think tank in 2010, to publishing, trialling live theology hubs through Minster Live!, devotional series by email, and sermon archives.
2020 has changed the landscape of the need for digital resources, and Latimer Minster will continue to curate biblical preaching resources, and conversation pieces in theology, mission and culture.
The Minster Fellows will be a group of those who sense a call to extend the Kingdom of God, but want to do so in a dynamic and meaningful partnership, or fellowship with others. Fellows are committed to inspiring better ways of thinking, acting and delivering change. An integral part of the Minster in creating a better future, Fellows champion new ideas, drive social change, deliver workable solutions and support the vision and values of the Minster community.
Since 2010 Latimer Minster has been at the forefront of supporting amazing projects and mission initiatives all over the world, facilitating churchplants throughout the UK, incubating small charities, as well as a distinctive commitment to working with churches and charities in Africa who are placed at the forefront of deeply challenging situations.
We have a responsive and personal approach to meaningful relationships with those who lead projects, and are always trying to support projects which display a commitment to Christian Mission which shows deep character and courage.
Frog and Amy Orr-Ewing planted Latimer Minster in 2010, starting in their home, then a local school, then moving most activities to Stampwell farm during the week, and on Sundays. As part of a review of the work of Latimer Minster after 10 years, the local congregational leadership was adapted, and Latimer Church was launched in September 2020. Correspondingly, Frog continues as Theologian and Missioner for the Minster, overseeing existing partnerships and projects, working with existing and proposed Minster Fellows, as well as convening and developing theological and missionary thinking and resources for Latimer Minster and the wider church.
On this day, 16th October in 1555, The elderly Bishop of Worcester, Hugh Latimer, uttered these words to his good friend Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London , as his dying breaths as they were burned to the stake in Broad Street, Oxford. I returned to the spot today, which marks the place and the event, by which Latimer Minster received its name and values. The Archbishop Cranmer, forced to watch the agonising martyrdom of his evangelical friends, had shared a cell with them since March, as part of a titanic struggle for the soul and souls of the nation. Their foes, led by the Lord Chancellor who was also the Bishop of Winchester, and the Queen of the time, Mary were using their deaths to wrestle back control of a turbulent nation. At the heart of the debate was an insistence by those who died on a pile of burning autumn twigs, that the Bible should be read in English, that ordinary people had direct access to God through the cross of Christ, and therefore no need of priests and bishops for forgiveness, grace and eternal life. They thought this was worth dying for - releasing the gospel to their generation was a serious business and they paid the ultimate earthly price.
The medieval city had a town wall in the north- at the gate was a church, and a tower which served as a belfry and a lookout tower, and unfortunately was also the town jail. Outside the wall resident poured their sewage and rubbish in a fetid ditch, filled with rotting goods, swampy water and probably a dead dog or two. This was the place they were ceremoniously burned, once leaders in the land and now publicly shamed, ended, cancelled; and with their death came a lesson from those now in power to all those who might entertain such freedom loving thoughts that they would be treated the same. And yet... it did not have the intended effect, for those who had read the scriptures for themselves would have thought of Hebrews 13:13 which exhorts:
Ten years ago, as Latimer Minster was born, we adopted the name and the pattern of stones (that is where our logo comes from) in this street to begin a commitment together to bring the message of eternal life to the generations to come no matter the cost.
When workmen were digging up the road which once marked the edge of the medieval town, and which is now in the heart of the city, they uncovered a pile of charred bones and remains of a stake still driven into the ground. The road has never been able to be tarmacked over again.
And so I am deeply challenged today as I stand at this spot- considering the pattern of life we have experienced between March and October- a year nobody saw coming, of what it means to ‘go to Him outside the camp’ - to peel back the years of rubbish and recapture the heart represented in these stones and in this name. As they were dying they were actually laying the foundation of a nation and civilisation which was to come. Within three years Mary had died and Elizabeth 1 was on the throne, and began a 44 year reign in which the doctrines and message of Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer would be woven again into the fabric of our nation.
The prison months and the flames, as with the cross of Christ that preceded them, were no defeat, but a precursor to resurrection, and a hinge of hope for a nation in turmoil. May we who gave the future, do so with as much resilience as those who have gone before us, outside the walls of Jerusalem, Oxford, or London’s M25.
With every Blessing