L’Arche was founded by Jean Vanier in 1964. Jean a philosopher, theologian and former Naval officer had become aware of the plight of thousands of people institutionalized with learning disabilities and, in that year, he took the radical step of inviting Raphael Simi and Philippe Seux to leave the institution where they lived to share their lives with him. Together they began L’Arche in small house in Trosly-Breuil, France. L’Arche is all about people: people with learning disabilities living in community with those without disabilities and the gifts which every person has is recognized, cherished and nurtured. Today there are 147 L’Arche communities around the world with 10 in the UK and L'Arche Inverness is the largest UK L'Arche community. The Inverness community was founded in 1975 with the gift of Braerannoch, which is situated in the Ness Bank Church parish. L’Arche Inverness now has 3 more houses in the town and vibrant workshops at Braerannoch.
L'Arche Inverness have strong links with Ness Bank. Every year on Maundy Thursday the community gathers in the Ness Bank hall to celebrate a meal and to mark Easter with their ritual of foot washing – a sign, inspired by Jesus Christ who washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper, that everyone in L’Arche is valued and is a servant of the other.
Members from L’Arche Inverness are regulars at the Ness Bank Wednesday lunch club and very much part of that community. Our minister leads monthly sessions called ‘A Time for You’ for L’Arche assistants to come at chat about faith, spirituality and life. Fiona, our minister, is also involved with L’Arche nationally as she represents the Church of Scotland at the Scottish Church Leaders Reflection Group for L’Arche which includes representative from the Roman Catholic Church and the Scottish Episcopal Church.
L'Arche Inverness have embarked on a £1.3 million renovation and refurbishment project for their premises at Braerannoch in order to be better able to meet the needs of their core members. They still need to raise £230,000 and Ness Bank Church supported this fund raising by donating our Christmas offerings. For more details about this go to L'Arche Inverness http://www.larche.org.uk/Sites/inverness