The first batch of material from the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (SSJE) collection is now catalogued and available via the National Church Institutions’ Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue.
A religious community for men, the SSJE was founded in Oxford on the 27th December 1866 by Richard Meux Benson and existed for more than 150 years before its work in Britain ended in 2011. Missionary work overseas was a central aim of the Society, with professed members, all of whom adhered to monastic vows of poverty, celibacy and obedience, working with lay members in conducting overseas missions, particularly in South Africa and India.
The Society’s properties in Oxford and London were open to both clergy and lay people as places of retreat and for quiet contemplation, and Fathers of the Society preached in churches all across England. Their workload in this respect was quite heavy. For example, in 1948, when the Fathers numbered just four, they preached at over 100 individual churches (and several times at a number of them).
Records now available include those about how the Society and its members were governed, minutes from the meetings of the General Chapter and several committees, records from the London Houses of the Society and those created by the Trust Association formed to manage the properties owned by the Society.
The early release of this material is aimed at maximizing access to a collection which is being catalogued as part of a project due for completion in late November 2013.