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Some Background and History

Community Circle

Ashram was founded in the late 1960's in Rochdale, Lancashire, where John Vincent was minister of a Methodist church. Much of the text on this page comes from his writings, and he is still the Leader of the community. Some of the ideas behind it - as well as its name - came from the Indian tradition of the Ashram. Central to Ashram has been a search for alternatives:

Alternative ways of living
Alternative work
Alternative worship
Alternative theology

Alternative ways of living have included community houses and also looser community arrangements covered by the term 'walking distance communities'. Alternative work includes both organised projects such as those in Sheffield and other fair trading ventures as well as many individual actions. Alternative theology and alternative worship are to be found all over Ashram, but in particular in Community Worship. One aspect of our alternative lifestyle has been food - which led us to publish an Ashram Cookbook. Many but not all members are vegetarian, and food at all Ashram events is vegetarian.

We believe that the Jesus story gives meaning to all life. We therefore have an understanding of life based on the faith that the things of Jesus, such as healing the sick, feeding the hungry, giving people hints of the Love of God, are the beginning and ending of all things.

Joining Ashram involves making the following commitment:
We commit ourselves
To follow the Way revealed in Jesus;
To support each other in good and ill;
To challenge evil with the power of love;
To offer the Kingdom in political and economic witness;
To work for the new community of all creation; and
To risk ourselves in a lifestyle of sharing.

(At the Community General Meeting in October 2013, the first line of the Commitment was changed from 'To hold to the Truth as it is in Jesus' to the above.)

This shared common commitment is lived out through members in different ways, and is renewed annually. For some members their commitment means living in an Ashram Community House and working in the local community.
Others attend regular (often monthly) local meetings with other members for shared worship and meals.

Some members work in pairs with each other to explore and support each other's commitment. All members are expected to make an attempt to attend the two annual weekend national conferences organised by Ashram.
Many members are involved in local politics, in overseas aid organisations, in fair-trading and related issues.
Many have been active in the inner-city as volunteers, advice workers, community workers, lay and ordained church workers, teachers etc.
Each year Ashram finds a project to which all members are encouraged to contribute a 'day's pay' as a part of their planned giving. All practice some kind of planned giving - often tithing - mainly to causes outside the Ashram Community. There is no set subscription but members are asked to contribute to Ashram expenses.

Ashram members are involved in deciding the policy of the charity through the Community Meetings at the two annual conferences. There is a small group of officers elected through this body as officers of the charity to carry out its work, as well as sub-groups that can be set up from time to time to carry out specific tasks.

The full history of the Ashram Community is contained in A Lifestyle of Sharing
by John Vincent (Ashram Press 2009) 

Community meeting

Click here for more details of the Ashram Community background and for a pictorial record 1967-2000.

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