Newsletter 17

Monastery of Saint Barnabas the Encourager

In this Issue:

Wardens Report
Diary Dates
Letter Resident Anchorite
Fr. Bryan

Address: Lower Brynmawr, Kerry, Powys, SY16 4NQ, Wales. Telephone 01686 630575 or mobile no.07891633487 or 07974794378. Friends’ newsletter ed. & co-ordinator: Juliet Wells. Tel. 01686 670312 or email  

  November, December, January,


Over the last quarter we had 62 visitors and 23 guests. August has been the busiest month (as usual)
A new development is a growing interest from the surrounding community. We have had two visits from branches of the Mothers’ Union and two visits from Women’s’ Institute groups.
I have had three bookings to talk to local church groups. Locally there has been an increase in pastoral support in the form of prayer as well as providing retreat facilities. At the same time we still have the international dimension in that we have people coming from all over the world and keep in touch with some who are overseas..
This Newsletter will be a little less ambitious than of late. The reason being that Juliet [Rowan]* has undertaken an MSc.course at Keele University. This not only involves much study and is requiring long dissertations but also practical placements in Llandrindod Wells. The first year is particularly challenging, not made any easier by the fact that Rowan and her husband are in the process of moving house.
It was Rowan* who founded and set up The Friends of the Monastery. Then, undertook to develop the old Bulletin into a Newsletter. So, quite understandably she has had to temporarily withdraw from a more prominent involvement. Rowan has however, agreed to send out the Newsletter electronically once things have settled down.
In the interim period Dorothy has undertaken to proof read in order to keep the letter going out. And to keep you all informed.
*As from 4/9/06. Juliet has chosen to change her first name to Rowan


Eucharist/Communions November 19th, December 17th, January 21st, February 25th.
Open Christmas Day (for those who are unattached or away from home. Phone Dorothy on 01686630575).
The Newsletters will be available on our Web Site:



My work in Birmingham was as a chaplain in the multinational, multicultural and multi-denominational Centre for Black & White Christian Partnership in Selly Oak Colleges. Since my retirement from the College there are less people coming from that sphere and the significance of this monastery for the local people is becomes clearer. However, our national and international links, and provision for those wanting a time apart in the monastery are still ongoing. Together with that we have become a resource within the local church scene; a place where prayers are offered and people can come and make use of our resources from church or chapel.
This ministry is similar to that of the Poustinia in Orthodox Russia. We are continuing, in this Severn Valley location, the monastic ministry pioneered by Fr Barnabas at the Monastery of St Elias at New Mills.
Fr. Barnabas was known locally in both church and chapel - particularly as a guest preacher at Harvest Festivals. In some ways we are better developed for this kind of ministry than his monastery was because of our ecumenical dimension. Most monasteries are strictly within the structure of one or other of the recognised historic churches.
All monasteries have a discipline of practice and a stability of tradition to offer. At St Barnabas The Encourager we can respond in a more informed way and with greater flexibility to a wider range of churches because we are not bound within the confines of the historic churches. Thus we have a greater flexibility to respond to any Christian church or house group: being more fully: “All things to all men”. Yet, as a Monastery, we are anchored in a time tested monastic routine governed by that rule of life. We are part of the Anglican Church providing us with a solid Anglican spine and the oversight of an Anglican Bishop.
Therefore, within this security we are free to fit into the total church scene.

Since leaving Birmingham I have increased my involvement with the local communities. I have endeavoured to familiarise myself with the local churches with which I had lost contact over the last 15 years in Birmingham. I recollect when I first came to Newtown some years back. I felt called to set up a Prayer Group made up of members and interested people from five very different denominations.
I have always maintained and understood ‘The Church’ to be the body of all believers. This is no more and no less than our oneness in Christ. However, I feel that each person should be free to worship and practice their faith in the ‘Establishment’ in which they feel comfortable. And above all where God is prompting them to be. But realising their choice is only one ‘facet’ of ‘The Church’. For all believing Christians are part of Christ’s mystical body. And that is just as various as all God’s Creation. In my experience the idea of one church (Institution) endeavouring to meet the needs of all the people all the time is totally unworkable. For any establishment to claim it can cater for all people is quite unrealistic..
Since my return to Newtown I find the churches are a lot more together. The Council of churches seems active. People are moving more freely from church to church.
I can see where the unique role of our monastery can fit into this mosaic for reasons I have indicated. The Council of churches (Cytun in Welsh ) is a means by which ‘churches’ can share understandings and recognise each others spiritual, practice, evangelical, and historical treasures. Ever since I became a committed Christian my whole understanding has been drawn to the mystical body of all believers. How absolutely basic yet how fragile this concept can be. In the free world any new concept could become yet another denomination.

This understanding of The Church is one that is challenging me. I feel that this is the only type of church that will survive under threat to religious freedom, should that happen. It seems that we need a concept of Church in which Christians can be free to grow through sharing between the various churches their treasures and insights both ancient and modern as they travel the pilgrim’s way.