The Faces of New Monasticism in Winnipeg

I was about two blocks away when, mortified, I realized what had happened.  “Jamie!” I texted, “Tell the restaurant I walked out without paying, that I’ll be right back!”

“No problem,” he texted back, “Taken care of.”

Hardly the first impression I wanted to make on Jamie Arpin-Ricci, the Abbot of the Little Flowers Community (little, but he responded with the graciousness I’m learning to expect from the many New Monastics I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in my travels.

I was very curious about Jamie.  I had been enjoying his blog  Little Flowers is a fusion of YWAM, Mennonite, and Anglican Franciscanism – which seemed to me to be an eclectic and engaging mix.  I was amused and encouraged to see that when he came to lunch, he was carrying Christine Pohl’s latest book, Living into Community – Cultivating Practices to Sustain Us, which I had just finished the day before.  On some things, we were on the same page.

On many things, actually.  Jamie is all about incarnational living in his tough West End neighbourhood.  Living a life of loving service.  And evidently, paying for the lunches of eat-and-runners like myself.

I had an ambitious agenda for my weekend in Winnipeg – to connect with three New Monastic expressions in the city.  So after my lunch with Jamie I made my way to PegWatch, in the northeast quadrant of town.  There I met with Jonathan and Carolyn Mutch, who this month are celebrating seven years of nonstop 24/7 prayer in the cutest little prayer house you ever did see.

whew! scheduling all the slots for 24/7!

These guys are my heroes.  Many of us in Canada are dreaming about and moving towards 24/7 prayer in our facilities, and these guys demonstrate that IT CAN BE DONE!  It’s more Moravian style, with individuals signing up for one hour slots in the prayer house.

Later in the weekend I visited Brian Creary (random note of happenstance – Brian was the leader of a full time worship school I attended in BC 17 years ago!) and his fantastic team of young leaders of the Sanctuary House of Prayer ( in central Winnipeg. SHOP runs 7-8 hours of Harp and Bowl style worship and prayer each Sunday afternoon and evening, and being there felt very much like being down at IHOP (

They let me sing in a set and then they spent half an hour prophesying over me as a community!  How’s that for a warm welcome?  SHOP’s fledgling record label, Convurgent Music (, has just released their first album, recorded live in the prayer room, and is presently compiling the work of their local songwriters for the next release.

Three different expressions of New Monasticism.  Three different faces of the movement.  Lovely and fascinating in it’s diversity and unified by the centrality of Jesus and his love for Winnipeg.  Beautiful.

Worth the Wait!

Its only taken 10 years…

In 2002, we gathered a group of fantastically gifted musicians and proposed an experiment.

What would happen if we picked a very simple chord progression.

And waited on the Lord.

Instruments in hand.

Hearts attuned.

For an hour.

What would happen?

We thought it was a little nutty, but worth trying, so we did it. Two days in a row. And recorded it live.

The end result?

A beautiful journey and a delightful conversation with the God who rejoices over us with singing.

Its taken us ten years to get around to doing it, but we’re finally releasing the first of the two We Wait albums.

All profits from album sales will go towards Jill’s ministry trip to Uganda next month. So we’re not selling it for a set amount. Just make a donation here and we’ll send you a link where you can download the album. Or track us down and we’ll sell you a hard copy version.

Watch facebook over the next week for some mp3 “teasers” so you can hear little bits!


“Seek Justice” Week of 24/7 Prayer

“In Dutch we have the word “gezellig”.  It can’t be translated into English directly, but basically it means a comfortable, friendly, peaceful atmosphere in a room and/or with a group of people.  This is what we have here”, said Conrad, gesturing around the room.

My Dutch speaking friend and I were just sitting down for an hour of Lectio Divina, which is a contemplative method of reading and praying Scripture.  The lighting was dim.  The couches comfy.  There was a tangible hush in the air – the accumulation of four days of 24/7 prayer had created quite a sanctified atmosphere in our prayer room.  It was comfortable, peaceful and friendly.

We have been collaborating with the True City movement for about four years now – exploring ways that churches can pray together for the good of the city.

Last weekend True City had it’s annual gathering, which focused on the theme “Seek Justice”.  There were breakout sessions on Justice Through Prayer, Justice for the Sexually Exploited, Justice and Mental Health Realities, and Poverty, Consumerism and Justice, amongst others.  And for each breakout session had a corresponding prayer station in our prayer room, which we are now running 24/7 for a week after the conference.

True City was also kind enough to produce this wonderful video about prayer rooms and Justice…

One of my favorite things about prayer rooms is that they provide a place where different prayer streams can collide, and where people can explore different prayer languages.  Charismatic extroverts can sing their prayers.  So can Benedictine lay monks!  Folks who like prayer lists and information stations can use them.  Artists can draw their prayers on the canvas that covers part of the floor.  Mystics can meditate.  And we can all do it together.

Tuning into His Song for this Season

Yesterday was D-Day.  December 1 and the Christmas Decorations come out!  My boxes of snowmen were bursting at the seams and rattling in the attic, and the tree was leaning against the patio fence, waiting to come in out of the cold, but now everybody is happily occupying our living room and the rest of the house.

I love Christmas.  I love the decorations, the music, the foods, the celebration, being with family and friends.  I love the feeling of warmth and well being that comes over me.

This year  I am exploring more deeply how to tune into the song that God is singing in this season.

I bought my presents from micro-enterprise in Uganda.  Making donations to Compassion and World Vision in lieu of gifts.  Making some of my other presents.  I’ve found some good online resources to help cut the cultural clutter: (minus the made in USA part – just translate “Canada” in your brain as you read it) – a movement that helps us replace consumption with compassion.

I have also found and am following the advent series produced by 24-7, which I am enjoying so much!  It is really tuning my heart for the season and I start each day with these online reflections:

Tonight at the Community House we are trimming the tree, eating pizza and drinking apple cider and listening to Handel’s Messiah.  Christmas is coming!  Jesus is coming!

It’s My Prayer Truck!

The phone rings.  “Hi Jill, Sara’s here at Living Rock, wanting to know when the prayer truck opens.”

It was 9 am.

I laugh.  “Tell her she’s early!  We’re opening at 8 pm tonight.”

Sara had been joining us for our weekly Wednesday prayer meetings at the Rock.  She didn’t like to pray out loud, but was hungry for community and loved the worship.

7:30 pm, the first night, Sara showed up.  Due to mobility challenges, she wasn’t able to climb into the truck, but that didn’t prevent her from planting herself in one of the folding chairs in front of it.  Day in and day out, Sara sat by the truck.  At 10 pm each night, I sent her back to her group home.  “It’s the rules, Sara.  No women alone out here at night!”  When I realized that she was going to be a permanent fixture, I decided to put her to work.

“You see those people walking by?” I pointed.  “Let’s pray for them.  And those people in scooters?” (Hamilton, in my opinion, is the scooter capital of Canada – though some would argue that Brantford is). “Let’s pray that God heals them so they don’t need their scooters anymore.  And see that parking lot?  Let’s pray that no-one’s car gets broken into.”

She caught on right away.  When I arrived the next day, she exclaimed, “I’m a prayer warrior!  I prayed over all those cars in the parking lot!  I love the prayer truck!  It’s MY prayer truck!”

Sara wasn’t the only one who claimed the truck as her own.  Halfway through the second week, two teen girls, heavily tattooed and pierced, visited us.  They carried a picture of one of their friends who had just died.  “We just knew we had to come to the truck and pray – we’ve got to get some good energy being released.”  We glued the picture of their friend on the wall, and they wrote loving memories and prayers around it.  Over the rest of the week, there was a small but steady stream of youth who came to grieve and pray – youth who would never consider going to a church.  They knew we were here, and they chose the truck as their sanctuary.  It was their prayer truck.

The first week, the Hamilton Spectator did an article on what we were doing.  The lead line was “Hamilton has a cupcake truck, a grilled cheese truck, and now a prayer truck.”  It had a prophetic ring to it.

The truck is shut down now, and I’m grieving.

The issue is sustainability.  We’re tired and there are simply not enough of us at this juncture to man the truck full time.  We were using a borrowed truck, and a borrowed parking spot.  Plus, in our Canadian climate, an outdoor prayer room loses some of its glam when the temperature dips.

Several times over the last two weeks, I exclaimed to friends and passers by. “I’m ruined!  I never want to pray inside again!”

I am.  And I don’t.  A ministry mentor of mine once said to me “put yourself in the path of oncoming grace.”  We did that in the last two weeks of praying on the streets of Hamilton.  But when grace knocks you down and bowls you over, how do you pick yourself up again and resume the journey you were on before?  Or should you?

What does an Urban Monastery that is attractive and accessible to those on the margins look like?  These last couple of weeks, it looked like a Uhaul.  Please pray for us as we reflect on what God has done in our midst, assimilate our new learning, and seek the Lord as to how to move forward.



There Was a Young (ish) Couple Who Lived in a Schu… ~ Go-Hospitality

Finally I am coming up for air, with a little bit of emotional and creative energy to write again.  It’s been a very eventful month, travelling to Sherbrooke Quebec for the National House of Prayer Summit, and returning just in time to stuff everything into a UHaul truck and move to Hamilton.  We don’t even have internet yet (this is my mass apology for my online absence, missed emails and some missed meetings), but most things are out of boxes, and the birds have adjusted to their new surroundings and housemates.

Our exploration of the practice of hospitality in the context of an Urban Monastery/House of Prayer, is multifaceted.  To begin with, we are developing a Community House.  At present two fantastic young adults are living in the Locke St. House with us, and we are preparing space for two more.  Over the next months we will figure out together what Christ Centred Community looks like in our home.

Secondly, our home has a lovely hospitality/guest room for visitors, pilgrims and Wild Geese.  If you want to come visit us and experience the rhythms of life and prayer in the Urban Monastery, let us know!

Thirdly, we will soon be beginning weekly community dinners where friends new and old can drop in – we’ll let you know when we’re firing up the barbie!

Finally, we will be starting a monthly book study this fall on the book “Making Room”, by Christine Pohl.  It is a wonderful resource for those who want to be more intentional in the ancient and Biblical practice of hospitality.  If you’re interested in joining us for that study, email me at  Space is limited!

We are being stretched on a number of levels, but the grace that God is dispensing for this season is surprising and amazing.  Kirk and I were nervous about sharing our home, but we love our new housemates.  With our daughter, Hannah moved off to Toronto for University, I am grateful for an outlet for all my maternal instincts!  Last night we had a bunch our Christ Centred Community group over and enjoyed central a/c (phew!), a fantastic meal together, and hilarity and worship in our living room.  Go-Hospitality rocks!