Introduction

Monastic life in the 21st century? As families? A few years ago, six families from Steffisburg decided to try this experiment together. We were moved to do so through life issues and questions we had. For example, we wondered what it would take to have a demanding job and still be able to be involved with social issues, without the family suffering or even falling apart?

Where will we find support if our child is sick and both parents have to work, if there are no grandparents to turn to? How can we live our Christianity authentically and practically in our daily lives? And might it be that forgoing certain luxuries and sharing some commodities with others might be truly rewarding even though it seems illogical? We were looking for answers to questions like these when we began to discover and explore the tradition of monasteries, where spirituality, work and community life have been connected for centuries, tying them together in a rhythm of life.

Inspired by this idea, we wanted to try it out with our own flavour. In 2012, we were able to found our own “monastery” in the heart of Steffisburg, in houses that are located a stone’s throw away from each other.

We share buildings, surroundings, cars and many other things – and have discovered amazing potential in sharing! Interestingly, the same applies on a personal level, true to the motto, “a problem shared is a problem halved; a joy shared is a joy doubled.” Similar projects are run by Christians around the world. They can be classified as “New Monasticism”, or a spart of the so-called “Fresh Expressions of Church”, a movement that calls for more spiritual diversity in church culture.

We partner with the theological institute IGW International in training and teaching certain classes. So, groups of students regularly visit our modern-day “convent”. We are also part of the international 24-7 prayer network and find their concept of “boiler rooms” particularly inspirational.

Incidentally, the German name of our community, “Kloster Alte Gärtnerei”, means “Convent (of the) Old Plant Nursery”. Up until about 1980, the land we now live on was (exactly that:) the site of a plant nursery which once belonged to the Monastery in Interlaken.