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A visit to Nieu Communities

30 April 2008

Arthur StewartYesterday I visited Arthur Stewart at Nieu Communities in Pretoria North. Nieu Communities is a kind of commune-cum-training centre based in a delightful old stone house (one of the oldest in the area) at the foot of the Magaliesberg.

Over the last few months I’ve heard quite a bit about Nieu Communities, especially since Roger Saner, another South African blogger, joined the community at the beginning of the year. Roger spoke about the new monasticism at a gathering in Brooklyn, Pretoria, a couple of months ago. So after hearing such a lot about Arthur it was good to meet him face-to-face at last. It might have been nice to visit Nieu Communities before I participated in the synchroblog on the New Monasticism, but at least it gives something new to blog about, and to compare with my other experiences of Christian intentional communities.

The house is ideal for the purpose — the previous owners ran it as a bed and breakfast place, so it has bedrooms built at the back, and a large kitchen, and the main house has been converted into communal rooms, with a dining room, bar, lounge and meeting rooms.

Bedrooms at Pangani

People come to spend a year at Nieu Communities as “apprentices”. Most of them come from the USA, and raise their support for their time there from friends, families, their home church and so on. After their year about a third go on to full-time Christian mission service, a third go into some other form of service, and a third go back to their old occupation, but engage in part-time mission work. Roger Saner is the only South African. The cost is rather too high for South Africans, as it would come to R9000 a month.
Pangani, Pretoria North, main house 29 April 2008

The apprentices engage with people from different cultures in Tshwane, which is a very multicultural place, and their crosscultural exposure is linked to different “postures”, such as “listening”, “submersion” etc. Much of the training takes place in one-to-one encounters with one of the permanent members of the community, who acts as a mentor or spiritual director.

Here is a labyrinth in the garden, which is used from some of the spiritual exercises.

Labyrinth at Pangani

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 5 May 2008 10:05 am

    Thanks Steve for doing a little snooping (in your own backyard as it were) and documenting this for us onliners. It seems that once you are in the “monastry” you start looing touch with the outside world.

    I knew a guy once who disappeared into its labrynthine ways, and has not been the same since. I sort of envision him doing a posture quite high up towards the ceiling in one of their “cellars”.

    He answers to the name “Wodger”. Did you come across him?

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