Pop Up Monastery
From the 8 - 21 August 2015, fifty women between 19 and 73 years moved into the vast monastery building in Mariensee, Germany, to create the first ever European ecumenical 'Pop Up Monastery' and to share the life with the women who live there in community. The participants were from 17 European countries, and from various Christian denominations: Orthodox and Quakers, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics and spiritual seekers. A rhythm of prayer, silence, tasks and workshops structured the day, but there was also room for celebration and exchange. Women were given the opportunity to seek time out of their busy lives and to meet women from all generations, denominations and cultural backgrounds.
This project was five years in the making, and the film ‘Gardens of Eve’ follows the women leading the project, as well as participants, as they uncover what it means to have faith, to live in community, to be searching, and to support one another on our journeys.
The film is a project of the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women, and was funded by the Methodist Church in Britain. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all those women involved in the production of the film for their time, talents and honesty.
From the 8th to the 21st of August, fifty women between 19 and 73 years moved into the vast monastery building in Mariensee to join the first ever European ecumenical 'Pop Up Monastery' and to share the life with the conventuals who live there. The participants were from the Netherlands, Switzerland, Moldova, Armenia, Ukraine, Serbia, England, Scotland, Sweden, Estonia, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Romania, Belarus, Belgium and Greece. A rhythm of prayer, silence, housework and workshops structured the day, but there was also room for celebration and exchange. Women were given the opportunity to seek time out of their busy lives and to meet women from all generations, denominations and cultural backgrounds. The women were from various Christian denominations: Orthodox and Quakers, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics and spiritual seekers.
The Pop Up Monastery was an initiative of the young women's group of the Ecumenical Forum of European Christian Women (EFECW) and has been planned over the past four years by Fiona Buchanan (Scotland), Carla Maurer (England/Switzerland), Maryana Varabyova (Belarus) and Julia Lersch (Germany).
“My stay was a gift to me and has set off a train of reflections. Each of the women participants were a gift to me and I remember them all for the beauty of their souls and bodies. They helped build cultural bridges in personal and community encounters.” (Renate Rothwell, UK)
“When I first joined a General Assembly of the EFECW six years ago, I found that my generation was hardly represented. Some of us sat together one evening and we asked ourselves how we could change this. With the Pop Up Monastery we achieved to bring the generations together and to lay the path for the future. It is great to see so many active young women now!” (Julia Lersch, Germany)
“Our generation risks forgetting the achievements of the ecumenical movement and the European project that brought peace and unity to our continent. Europe is a hugely complex and diverse continent, and we have to spend time together to learn who the others are in order to understand the political challenges of today. New wars and crisis have become daily reality for many of us. At the Pop Up Monastery our longing for peace and inclusion became evident in prayers, but also in many discussions. One of the most emotional moments for me was when a woman from the Ukraine prayed for her country in one of the evening prayers.” (Carla Maurer, Switzerland)
“Women are a crucial pillar of our communities and carry a lot of responsibility. For women to take a week off and step out of their daily routine is a political statement.” (Martina Heinrichs, Netherlands)
“Sharing our home and our way of living and working during the Pop Up Monastery has been a very enriching experience for us. May the shared experience empower us to work for a better future in God’s world.” (Abbess Görcke)
“It is not just the Pop Up Monastery itself but the preparation meetings that have taught me to be more tolerant, to listen and to find a compromise. We are all different, we come from different countries and denominations. Our diversity is one of the most precious things in the Pop Up Monastery.” (Maryana Varabyova, Belarus)
“As I always rush, that week was really precious for its meditative and calm mood. And the most important: I felt strong support from other women in connections with tragic events in my country.” (Natalyia Horbal, Ukraine)
The Pop Up Monastery is a pilot project, and might be multiplied in the future to grow the spirit of community. A documentary film will be released in 2016, sponsored by the Methodist Church in Britain, and a brochure will be developed to inspire similar follow up projects. The planning group will produce guidelines on how to organise a Pop Up Monastery.
Press releases and reports
Report from Bunmi Olayisade, Africa Partnership Coordinator at Methodist Church in Britain, Pop Up Monastery participant: Kloster Marinsee experience – August 2015Report from Bunmi Olayisade, Africa Partnership Coordinator at Methodist Church in Britain, Pop Up Monastery participant: Kloster Marinsee experience – August 2015
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