Exemplifying Christian hospitality, LivingStone Monastery in Newport News, Virginia, has sheltered hundreds of guests, saints and wanderers within its walls since 2011. Now, LivingStone seeks shelter of its own. The sale of its rented property required staff to temporarily shut down the monastery and its onsite ministries, the award-winning Five Loaves Food Pantry and Little Blessings thrift store. The monastery also housed Rivers Cross Anglican Church, which is now meeting in a home.
The news caused sorrow to both those who had served and been served at the monastery in the past several years. They were informed that another local church had obtained the property to make way for their new ministry, the Peninsula Dream Center, which will provide short-term refuge and long-term restoration to the homeless, at-risk and underserved communities. Though saddened by the unexpected transition, Brother Tim Luken, Prior of LivingStone, expressed hope.
“I truly believe that God has something better in mind for LivingStone Monastery that we might be made perfect and be a jewel in His crown,” he says.
God has already begun to provide. Last month Br. Tim found a church willing to house Five Loaves Food Pantry, which serves approximately 3,000 meals a month through a hot meal and bags of groceries, providing food to over 300 families in the Harpersville and Warwick areas of Newport News. Reopened October 1 in the nearby Olivet Christian Church, Five Loaves is still in need of donations to help purchase freezers, a refrigerator, rolling racks, cooking gear and food.
“We are all going to have to adjust to the new place, but we are blessed in that we can continue with our ministry,” Br. Tim says.
He is also pursuing a lead on property for the monastery at the Holy Family Retreat Center, the facility that inspired the creation of LivingStone. The property has been for sale since 2010 and is priced at $2.8 million, which Br. Tim says LivingStone would fund through a capital campaign.
“The property has been in the perfect hands of God since 1878, and we hope to keep it there by continuing its mission of providing a place of retreat for God’s people,” Br. Tim says.
One thing is certain: LivingStone’s presence has impacted the community. On September 17, Five Loaves was awarded the local 2013 Meal Ministry Award for outstanding provision of nutritious meals and compassionate care. Br. Tim also received the coveted 2013 Unsung Hero Award in gratitude of his exemplary service in upholding the mission of the Food Bank of the Virginia Peninsula. Through God’s provision, he is praying they soon resume the rest of their ministry by reopening the monastery and thrift store.
“We trust God and look forward to the day when we can announce that our guest rooms are once again available for you!” he says.
Learn more at Living Stone Monastery.