Dispersed Religious Orders
The Canons of the Episcopal Church have a rather narrow definition of a "religious order," which includes common property, living together in community, and vows of celibacy, poverty, and obedience. However, to the larger world 'religious order" includes what the Canons call "Christian communities." These communities tend not to live in one place, but are usually spread out geographically. They include both single and married members. Vows usually include obedience, but instead of poverty, the vow of simplicity. Instead of celibacy, the vow is of purity. Because Christian communities tend to be dispersed, we use the term "Dispersed Orders."
Dispersed Orders do not necessarily live in a central "house." Such a location may not even exist. Members live and work within their local parishes, using the spiritual gifts unique to their Orders. Nevertheless, the community within an Order is hugely important, and members keep in regular contact with their Brothers and Sisters.
Dispersed Orders have a "Rule," a set of commitments by which the members order their daily life. They often (but not always) have a "habit" -- a special clothing that marks one as a member. The habit is not a vestment but is considered everyday clothing. Some Dispersed Orders allow a less formal "street habit" for everyday wear. Many Orders wear either full habit or street habit during nearly all their waking hours.
Prospective members must go through a period of formation under the guidance of established members. Each order has its own unique process, but they usually include study, building habits of regular prayer, and possibly spiritual exercises.
These Orders currently have representatives at various parishes within the Diocese of Missouri:
- The Anamchara Fellowship
- The Anglican Order of Preachers
- The Order of St. Francis
- The Rivendell Community
- The Society of St. Francis
- Third Order Society of St. Francis
Also represented in the diocese is the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, a men's organization that, while not meeting the national definition of an Order or Community, has members who live under disciplines of prayer, study and service.
The Dispersed Religious Communities in the Diocese of Missouri come together quarterly to share worship and fellowship.