Episcopal House of Prayer: An Evening with Bishop Craig Loya and Abbot John Klassen

Christine Luna Munger, PhD

Episcopal House of Prayer: An Evening with Bishop Craig Loya and Abbot John Klassen

EHOP w. Abbot & Bishop 6.8.22 EHOP w. Abbot & Bishop 6.8.22

The Episcopal House of Prayer (EHOP) wants to thank the more than 30 supporters and community members who gathered to celebrate EHOP's spiritual roots last month. It was a beautiful evening of prayer, conversation, and connection, and we're grateful to our community for helping make the House of Prayer the unique and holy place that it is.

This spring and summer, I have often said that “the House feels very alive again.” It was no exception when we gathered the community on Wednesday evening, June 8, to celebrate both our rootedness and our growth into the future. To honor our spiritual and historical legacy, we invited Abbot John Klassen (current abbot of the St. John’s Abbey) and Bishop Craig Loya (current Bishop of the Episcopal Church in MN) to join us for our usual weekly prayer sit, followed by dinner and conversation. This coming together reflected part of our origin story, when Bishop Bob Anderson and Abbot Jerome Theisen dreamed up this “place apart” in the woods at St. John’s in the mid-eighties.

Back then, the lay folks helped lead the way to make this dream happen—and it is no different now. In the fall of 2021, Joyce McFarland and John Cunningham, both highly involved in the early days, each separately suggested to me that we should bring the Abbott and Bishop together again. Unfortunately, between when Joyce made the suggestion last fall and when we gathered this June, she passed through the veil of life on Friday, May 15. Her generous and supportive spirit carries on at EHoP and beyond.

And the Spirit, indeed, felt palpably alive when we gathered that evening. Abbott John and Bishop Craig, despite having met for the first time on that same day, both spoke of the beauty and importance of spiritual friendship. Each of their predecessors had valued spiritual friendship, and especially in tumultuous times, we recognize that it is often the tender-yet-fierce quality of spiritual friendship that forges pathways for big dreams to come true.

Aelred of Rievaulx wrote as far back as the twelfth century, “friendship is that virtue by which spirits are bound by ties of love and sweetness and out of many are made one.” That evening, it was hard not to feel a shared sense of awe in reflecting on our first three decades of existence—and a sense of excitement about what the next 30 years will look like.

The vision is simple yet powerful. Gather folks in a contemplative place apart, tend to the work of offering radical hospitality, and trust that the sweet bonds of friendship in the Spirit will for the transformative pathway toward healing and wholeness.