Students experience English L'Abri
April 07, 2009

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Back row: John Moore, Allie Jones, Eddy Davila, Ashley Felker; front row: Anna Downer, Philip Meznar, Kim Woody, Rachel Carr
Back row: John Moore, Allie Jones, Eddy
Davila, Ashley Felker; front row:
Anna Downer, Philip Meznar,
Kim Woody, Rachel Carr
Last month eight students from Matt Benson's CLF 391 Christian Thought from L'Abri class spent 11 days at English L'Abri in Greatham, England, about 50 miles southwest of London.

L'Abri (French for "the shelter"), founded in 1955 by Francis and Edith Schaeffer in Switzerland, today has centers in Asia, North and South America, and Europe.

Describing the L'Abri experience, Matt states, "L'Abri seeks to explore the understanding that Christianity speaks to all areas of life. Spiritual depth and purpose have long been nurtured throughout church history through a variety of intentional Christian communities.  L'Abri is one such vibrant spiritual community and is a great fit for Bryan students because one of Bryan's strengths is its strong sense of community."

Senior Anna Downer explains what happens on a typical day at L'Abri:
  • Everyone shares breakfast (including English tea) together in the dining room.
  • The rest of the morning, students are either assigned to work with a group or to study.  Work duties include yardwork, cutting wood, cooking, and the like. Those who are assigned to study in the morning and work in the afternoon choose from 1800 lectures and a library of books or just sit by the fire and think, pray, or listen.  L'Abri tutors are available to provide direction on what to study. 

    Philip, John, and Eddy are hard at work refilling the wood house   Students break for tea and conversation
    Philip, John, and Eddy are hard
    at work refilling the wood house.
      Students break for tea and conversation.
  • Everyone stops what they are doing for a mid-morning break to meet on the lawn for English tea and a conversation with a friend, a game of volleyball, or singing along with a guitarist.
  • Students are assigned to tables for lunch (which also includes English tea) for a 90-minute discussion on questions on topics of interest, including theological, cultural, literary, and philosophical issues.
  • The afternoon is dedicated to either work or study, whichever was not done that morning.  Included is a mid-afternoon break for English tea, conversation, and recreation.
  • Following dinner (which includes English tea), students enjoy lectures, movies followed by discussion, or a free night to spend as they wish.

Located in the countryside of Hampshire, the Manor House is where up to 60 students and staff members live, eat, study, and work
Located in the countryside of Hampshire, the
Manor House is where up to 60 students
and staff members live, eat, study, and work.
Matt said that L'Abri "puts a strong emphasis on establishing a healthy rhythm of life that creates space for work, study, rest, and play within community. For fairly driven and consumed American college students, this rhythm addresses a deep need of the soul---space for God to speak, space for us to listen, and space to learn to love others well through contributing into the genuine life of community."