L'Arche London celebrates 40 years

By agency reporter
July 9, 2018

L’Arche London concludes its 40th anniversary celebrations on Saturday 14 July 2018. with an inclusive service of thanksgiving at Westminster Cathedral.

 The community, which was founded in 1977 by Therésè Vanier, is made up of more than one hundred people – with and without learning disabilities – who share life together Saturday’s service of thanksgiving will be jointly led by Bishop Nicholas Hudson and Revd David Stephenson. Stephan Posner, International Leader of L’Arche, will give an address.

 The community, based in West Norwood in South London, supports some thirty-five adults with learning disabilities, providing registered care, supported housing, and specialist day services. Assistants in the London community share their lives with people with learning disabilities. They support them in their everyday living and model a vision of a society where people are inherently valued and celebrated for who they are, and not just what they do.

 Richard Keagan-Bull, a community member with a learning disability who has lived in, and been part of, L’Arche London for over ten years, said: ‘I like being a part of L’Arche London. It is a nice, friendly community of people who care for you and want the best for you. No matter what your ability, everyone is treated equally and with respect; we all sit on one table and the door is always open.’

 Lucy Winter, Director and Community Leader of L’Arche London, said: "We live in a society that primarily values people for what they can do, rather than who they are. This has all too often led to the marginalisation of people with learning disabilities.

"In L’Arche London, and in L’Arche communities around the world, we celebrate people for who they are and for their inherent gifts. For forty years, people with and without learning disabilities have lived together in community in L’Arche London. We model a different way of envisioning our society; one in which everybody belongs and is celebrated. In a city like London, where so many people feel lonely and pushed to the margins, L’Arche London offers a radically hopeful and counter-cultural vision for our world.

"The service on Saturday will be an opportunity to give thanks, and to celebrate, our community. With friends from L’Arche communities across the UK joining us, and the Movement in Worship dancers and drummers performing, we are expecting a vibrant, joyful celebration of thanksgiving!"

 Therésè Vanier (Jean Vanier’s sister) co-founded L’Arche UK, and established the L’Arche London community in 1977 with Jean Bell and Michelle Antia – both of whom have learning disabilities. Therésè, the first female consultant at St Thomas’ Hospital in South London, and a pioneer in palliative care, lived in South London until her death in 2014.

 Speaking about the importance of L’Arche in today’s world, Bishop Nicholas Hudson, said: "Cardinal Hume used to say ‘each person matters, no one is redundant.’ L’Arche London has announced this truth with dramatic conviction these last forty years. It would have given Cardinal Hume real joy to see L’Arche London celebrate their anniversary in Westminster Cathedral.

"L’Arche proclaims a radically counter-cultural message that every person belongs in our society. It is a gospel-inspired vision which gives hope to everyone who believes in the innate dignity and worth of every human being. Four decades of living it is truly to be celebrated."

 The inclusive service of thanksgiving will take place in Westminster Cathedral, starting at 2.30pm. All are welcome to attend. The nearest station is Victoria. From the District and Circle or Victoria Line take the Cardinal Place exit (lift accessible), which emerges across the road from the Cathedral.

* L'Arche https://www.larche.org.uk/


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