In 2016 John Swinton invited Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas to the university for a series of conversations around disability issues which resulted in the book Living Gently in a Violent World. During the conversations both Jean Vanier and Stanley Hauerwas stated that they felt that there should be a L’Arche community in every university, the implication being that in a place where people think a lot about what it means to be human, sometimes it is necessary for students and staff to see and experience different ways of being together. In the years following that meeting, a group of people got together within the university, in collaboration with L’Arche Scotland, to explore what it might look like to have a L’Arche like community within the University of Aberdeen. The university provided this new initiative with three PhD scholarships and accommodation for the students to enable the formation of the beginnings of the community. In February of 2018 three students arrived from far off lands to take up a PhD in theology and begin to explore how to get the "Friendship House Community" off the ground. They began to meet weekly as a group and monthly as a wider community. Friendship House had arrived!
We still have a long way to go in terms of setting up the logistics of Friendship House, namely the ever-present need to secure funding for the future, and working on establishing a base for Friendship House, preferably on campus. Helpful suggestions and/or help with that is always welcome.