"A compassionate open home is part of Christian responsibility, and should be practiced up to the level of capacity." Francis Schaeffer
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 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 Schaeffer’s in their work, and more branches were established.
English L'Abri was founded in 1971, after the Greatham Manor House was donated to L'Abri by a close friend of the ministry.
Before being established in the Hampshire countryside, a faithful group of people would gather regularly in London to discuss ideas and to offer hospitality in the midst of the city life.
That group was the starting point of the work in England.
Since then, many workers, helpers and students have come to the the big wooden door of the Manor 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.
Marsh and Tuula worked for 35 years in that part of the world once known as 'Eastern Bloc.' Their considerable experience brings together a commitment to ideas and hospitality. They are now based in Greatham village and have a study at the Manor House where they are an active part of the community.
The L'Abri Team
Jim and Merran Paul
Jim (English) and Merran (South African) have two children, Jack and Sam. Jim has a background as a doctor in palliative medicine and Merran is a clinical psychologist.
Edith is Dutch by background but grew up in South Africa. She was involved at Dutch L’Abri before beginning work at English L’Abri. Edith has done graduate studies in South Africa, the USA, and the Netherlands in both philosophy and theology. She plays the violin.
Peter and Dawn Merz
Pete (Australian) and Dawn (USA) have six children: Jojo, Ned, William, Addie, Matthias, and Nathaniel. Pete has a degree in Classics. Before getting married, Dawn was a single worker at this branch.
Andy and Lindsey
Andy and Lindsey (both American) have two children, Eliot and Ivy. Before coming to L’Abri they lived in Chicago, where Andy founded a game design firm and Lindsey worked as a freelance writer for architecture and the arts.
Josué and Lili
Josué and Lili are from the South of Brazil. Josué was a teacher of philosophy and sociology and
Lili worked in marketing and communication before joining L'Abri. The Reichows have one child, Benjamin.
Marsh and Tuula
Joel and Catherine
Catherine (Scottish) and Joel (USA) have three children, Benjamin, Lewis, and Grace. Before coming to L'Abri Catherine studied at the Glasgow School of Art and then worked as a secondary school art teacher. Joel worked as a consultant, focusing in organizational learning & development.
Sarah served as a missionary in Central Europe 26 years before coming to the UK in 2008. Sarah works out of the L'Abri office and plays an active part in the life of the community.