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Archbishop of Canterbury offers Gap Year Placements at Lambeth Palace

It’s a million miles away from the white sand beaches of Koh Phangan in Thailand, or the laidback vibes of Bondi in Australia, but now the Archbishop of Canterbury has started up an innovative new scheme at his official London residence for the keen ‘gapper’.

Thanks to the poor job market, economic prospects for graduates and students tend to look bleak as they look forward into their adult life, prompting them to travel and take a gap year as a chance to expand their skill sets and ‘find themselves’ whilst overseas.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has recognised this trend amongst the younger generations, and has offered up a placement year at his London residence of Lambeth Palace in an innovative and surprising break from tradition.

Entering the huge gap year market, the Most Rev Justin Welby is inviting sixteen young individuals to move into his London residence – the 800-year palace on the banks of the Thames, opposite the Houses of Parliament – for a year.

The sixteen individuals will form part of a new monastic community, living by the same basic principles of Saint Benedict. These principles include a daily round of prayer and ‘moderation of speech’ meaning individuals tend to work in silence.

A website, which details both the application process and what applicants can expect to experience states, “Members will live in a way the ancient monastics would recognise: seeking to draw closer to God through a daily rhythm of silence, study and prayer. Through these disciplines, and in fellowship together, they will also be immersed in the modern challenges of the global 21st century church.”

Those on the placement year won’t be expected to wear the monastic habits, but can wear casual clothes during their time at the Palace. Applications are open to Christians of any denomination aged between 20 and 35 from anywhere in the world, but the Archbishop explains that he is looking for young Christians “with a sense of adventure, and a passion to know God more deeply.”

The Archbishop’s foray into the gap year market, mixing a year of experience with one of faith, has been inspired by his own gap year experience. He found his faith whilst teaching English in Kenya in 1974 before he started his studies at the University of Cambridge.

“The thing that would most make no sense at all if God does not exist is prayer,” the Most Rev Justin Welby stated. “Through it [prayer], people subject themselves to discipline, to each other in community and above all, to God. I expect this venture to have radical impact – not just for the individuals who participate but for life at Lambeth, across the Church and in the world we seek to serve.”

The Archbishop’s chaplain, the Reverend Doctor Jo Wells added, “We are inviting people from all over the Anglican Communion – and beyond – to live a year in God’s time. There are no qualifications for joining the Community except a longing to pray, to learn, to study together the things of God, and so to be stretched in body, mind, and spirit.”

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