What is L'Abri?
L’Abri Fellowship began in Switzerland in 1955 when Francis and Edith Schaeffer decided in faith to open their home to be a place where people, whether Christian or not, might find satisfying answers to their questions and practical demonstration of Christian care.
It was called L’Abri, the French word for “shelter,” because they sought to provide a shelter from the pressures of a relentlessly secular 20th century.
As time went by, so many people came that others were called to join the Schaeffers in their work, and more branches were established.
Canadian L'Abri was founded in 2003. Before the work was established on the west coast, three faithful couples from Ontario prayed and met together for several years of having a L'Abri for Canadians. That group was the starting point of the work in Canada. This prayer was realized in 2003 when a property on Bowen Island was donated to L'Abri by a close friend of the ministry. Then in 2017, the work was re-located to Vancouver Island, near Victoria. Over the years, many workers, helpers and students have come to the "wet" coast in search of answers, community, and truth.
Life at L'Abri
A wide variety of people come to stay with us, for many different reasons, from a variety of backgrounds, world-views, ages and occupations. Some do not see themselves as Christians, and come looking for a place where their questions will be taken seriously. Many people come to address living as Christians in the modern world. Every guest brings to L'Abri their own unique life, thoughts, interests and questions.
L'Abri is a place where we try to take all genuine questions seriously. Our foundational belief is that Christianity as found in the Bible is true. This means that a commitment to the God of the Bible is rational and that faith is never divorced from reason. Moreover, because Christianity is true, not only can it be discussed intellectually, it can also be passionately imagined and practically lived out as the Truth.
We believe that the life-affirming truth of Christianity speaks to all of human life and thought. This means our lives are not divided between "sacred" and "secular" activities, and that Christian faith integrates all of human life, including our minds, our hearts, our work, our play, and our relationships.
This also means that art, history, philosophy, economics, psychology, education, politics, science, contemporary society, and all other realms of thought can be examined from a Biblical viewpoint.
One of the helpful things about being at L'Abri is that intellectual pursuits and discussion are mixed into the "real daily life" of living with families and working at all kinds of practical tasks. This provides a place where people can begin to integrate their faith into all areas of life. This kind of integration is important in our increasingly compartmentalized world, and can be very freeing, but it may not be terribly glamorous. A "Mountain top experience" is not our goal. You should not come expecting a secluded retreat environment. Instead we have tried to maintain the reality of life within a family setting. There are lots of mundane chores to be done, some perpetual disorganization and not enough space for visitors to have private rooms. You may find some of this difficult, but there is a reality to the environment that many have found helpful.
Liz grew up in Victoria on Vancouver Island. She studied at the University of Victoria, taking a year off to live in India (2008-2009.) She graduated with a degree in Creative Writing and English Literature (2013.) Her interests include painting, literature, nature, writing, and the domestic arts.
Clarke grew up in Memphis, TN. He graduated in 1998 with a Bachelors of Liberal Arts (University of Mississippi), with a Creative Writing emphasis. He moved to Canada in 2000 and graduated with a MDiv (Regent College) in 2004. His interests are in theology, philosophy, social critique, pop culture, literature, short fiction, sports, and music.
Julia grew up just south of Vancouver, in White Rock, B.C. and studied at Trinity Western University in Langley, B.C., receiving her BSc in Nursing in 1998. After two years of hospital work, she transitioned to Community Health Nursing in the Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, a place beset with prostitution, heavy drug use, and homelessness. She also studied part-time at Regent College. Her interests are playing the violin, singing, reading classics, cooking, gardening, and playing games.
The L'Abri Statements
When L’Abri began in 1955 the Schaeffers produced a short 2-page document called variously, the Consensus of Faith, or the Basic Principles of Operation. In some respects it remains, even to the present, one of the most important documents to come out of L’Abri even though never published. Its use was principally internal, clarifying and controlling the direction of the work as it developed thereafter.
Approximately 40 years later L’Abri decided to produce a further document having the same objective in mind, yet without displacing the original. Hence the following L’Abri Statements. They are not meant to be exhaustive nor are they designed to be published (though we are happy to have them freely copied). We intend to use them actively within the Fellowship as a guide to those working or studying with us, but we hope they will also be helpful to others whatever their individual or organizational contexts may be.
As the opening paragraph of the section dealing with ‘Boundaries’ says, “We see the following statements as guidelines to lead us into truth together, not as creedal formulations that would preclude further growth, correction and discussion.” And again, “Faithfulness to God must take shape and have certain parameters in specific, historical and cultural settings. Therefore we have outlined some of the areas where we feel accommodation (i.e. compromise) is a particular danger today.”
The L’Abri Statements, together with a Statement of Faith and the original Consensus of Faith, are available below in PDF format.