January 2011 - Vol. 46
Antioch is an ecumenical Christian community based in London, United Kingdom. It’s roots are in the charismatic renewal that spread across many Christian denominations from the early 1970s. At that time there was a particular openness to ecumenical initiatives and an ecumenical community, Antioch, started in West London in 1979. The community grew rapidly in the 1980s, with many families and students joining, the students linked through an affiliated outreach in the University of London which is now called Koinonia. Today Antioch is a community of around 200 people - families, singles and children - with members who are part of a variety of Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox churches.
From its earliest days Antioch was linked to an association of communities worldwide with a similar vision, now called the Sword of the Spirit.
Being an ecumenical
Community life goes beyond any one generation or age group, and we actively
encourage relationships across the generations. This benefits everyone.
Young people have older brothers and sisters in the Lord to look up to
and take inspiration from, and older people and singles have the blessing
of being able to share in family life even if they do not have children
living with them. Our hope and prayer is that our children will be
greater disciples than we are, and to this end we put a lot of resources
into our work with our young people.
The heart of community life is the household. A household may be a family,
possibly with some singles living with them, or it may be a group of singles
living together. Household is the place where we learn to live together
day to day, and learn how to love one another as a result. In the Gospel
of John (13:35) Jesus speaks of how the love we have for one another will
allow others to see that we are his disciples; that is our hope and prayer.
We believe in mission as our Lord commanded us in the Gospel of Matthew (28:19-20), and we encourage all our members to actively share their faith. We are involved in mission at three stages of life, the first being Youthlink, a youth group that aims to support Christian teenagers in their faith and give them a place to bring their friends to discover faith or deepen it. Secondly we financially and pastorally support an independent student outreach called Koinonia that works in the centre of London. Koinonia reaches out to students attending the University of London colleges, and attracts students from other colleges as well. Thirdly we run adult-oriented Alpha Courses and Life in the Spirit Seminars that allow people to discover and grow in faith. We also sponsor separate men’s and women’s activities that support people in their faith.
Some of our distinctives
Unity in diversity
Since we are not a church we have different understandings amongst our members of some theology, and one practical outworking of this is that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper/Mass all together, since this would be against the teachings of some of our members’ churches.
However we are ecumenical, something our individual churches themselves often find difficult to express in practical ways. In this we express the unity that God sees in the universal church, but that our historical divisions – and prejudices – often cover up. Our theological unity is in adherence to the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, and traditional Christian moral teaching.
Being ecumenical means that we believe that all Christian people are in God’s eyes one people (The Letter of Paul to the Ephesians 4:4-6) and we are called to love one another (The Gospel of John 15:12-17). We consider that as Christians we are primarily divided by history, and by different beliefs on important, but not-essential-to-salvation, theology.
However, being ecumenical does not mean that we all agree with one another on all issues, nor that we play down issues where we have significant differences. Rather the approach we take to ecumenism, whilst recognizing our differences, looks to see how we can share in the riches of our respective traditions. This is particularly expressed in our worship and in our encouraging the reading of Christian authors from denominations different from our own.
Even though we cannot hold all of our theology in common, we can share
our lives, and carry out mission together.
In Antioch we actively encourage the use of the gifts of the Spirit
in our worship meetings, particularly the gifts of prophecy, tongues, healing,
and words of knowledge (The First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians,
Chapter 12). However we recognize that for the gifts to be used effectively,
they need to be used in good order, as Paul encourages us in his First
Letter to the Corinthians (14:26-33), or they will come into disrepute.
As a result, although we encourage spontaneity in the use of the gifts,
we seek to exercise them in an orderly way so that the Spirit’s voice to
us is clear and not confused.
We are very grateful to God for calling us to be an ecumenical community
and for his faithfulness to us over the years. For more information, please
feel free to visit our community website: http://www.antioch.org.uk/
publishing address: Park Royal Business Centre, 9-17 Park Royal Road, Suite 108, London NW10 7LQ, United Kingdom