Frequently Asked Questions

Monkfish Abbey met together as a community from early 2003 until fall of 2007, when their hosting family moved to Copenhagen, Denmark. This site is a record of our history together. We hope you can find help and companionship here. Our Abbess, Rachelle Mee-Chapman is still writing about spirituality and new religious rites and rituals (among other things) at Magpie Girl. If you are looking for a community in Seattle, we highly recommend Church of the Apostles at the Fremont Abbey. Many blessings to you on your continued journey!

What’s a Monkfish?

Monkfish from monkfish is an ugly looking saltwater fish that is mostly a big head and a meaty tail. In Seattle, we run into the monkfish quite a bit. One is always on display at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market, where the fishmongers pull a hidden string to give the tourists a scare.

There’s another monkfish in a tile pond at nearby at the Wallingford Steps. And when we saw the mythical creature at our favorite pagan-y haunt, the Fremont Solstice Parade, and we just sort of fell in love. 

Once we learned that Monkfish was “the poor folk’s lobster” we were hooked. It’s yummy and everyone can get in on it. Yeah…that sounds about right.

Why call yourselves an Abbey?

Well, we used to be called ThPM. When we started in 2001 we didn’t know what to call ourselves because we didn’t know who we were yet. So, we stuck with the basics: “Th” for Thursdays and “PM” for post-modern (and because we met at night.) We’re definitely not associated with the Texas Highway Patrol Museum, which you can find at

Monkfish Mosaic at Wallingford StepsEventually, as we grew organically, we found ourselves functioning a little like a Celtic monastic order, and we’ve definitely got a feminine vibe to our leadership—so we went with the term “Abbey.” We like the history Abbey’s have of being places of hospitality, service, and spiritual direction—and like the ancient Abbeys we wanted to be a gathering place in the midst of sprawl.

Contrary to popular assumption, we don’t all live together. There are six bedrooms in the house, and sometimes Monkfish Abbey folks are living in them—but not always. It just depends on the needs of the folks around us, and what kind of space we have available at any given time.

What do you do at Monkfish Abbey?

First and foremost we hang out. Every week we eat dinner, drink beer and red wine, and catch up. We view conversation as prayer and sharing a meal as communion. These two things, conversation and communion, are our central spiritual practices and you’ll catch us doing them every week.

Burning Man MonkfishWe’re also trying to find spiritual/faith practices that make sense in our very real, very different worlds. We experiment a lot, and each week our time together looks a little different. We are mostly artists, so we do a lot of things that involve the arts, especially collage and journaling. We also like contemplative or meditative things, so we use tradtional forms of contemplative practices—with a twist. You can get a taste of what we do by going to our [“samples”?].

What about the kids?

Kids are welcome at the Abbey. We love our minimonks! Paul and Rachelle have two kiddos and some of the other monks have wee ones running around as well. We’ve had a couple of false starts at running “kid” programs, but right now what seems to work best is having the kids with us for dinner, and inviting them along to participate with whatever art-based activity we’ve got going on after the meal. If we are doing something particularly meditative we’ll set the little one’s up with a video. (I know, it’s not the best…but it’s what we’ve got so far.) Of the four families with kids, only one doesn’t attend a Sunday morning congregation, so most of the kids go to Sunday school outside of the Abbey.

Because we meet in a home where children are present, newcomers who decide to come regularly are asked to provide references and to submit a Washington State background check. Children are not pictured on our website, and home address and phone numbers can be obtained only with parental permission.

What About the Bible?

Monkfish at Pike MarketAt Monkfish Abbey we use the Bible to inspire our stories, our art, and our lives. We meditate on it and honor it as our holy text. We think the Bible can tell us true things, enhance our lives, and connect us to God. We like the Bible…um…some of the time. The reality is, the Bible is at times hard, contradictory, and full of confusing stuff. We don’t try to whitewash that reality. You won’t find conensus here as to whether the the Bible is “inspired and infalliable;” whether it’s the only holy text that can teach us true things about God; or if it’s important to read it every day. But you will find a healthy respect and an open mind towards this holy book.

Most of us have grown up with the stories from the Bible. We can remember being captivated by angels, giants, and miracles. We have Psalms knocking around our heads and passages committed to memory. These memories feed us—so it’s important to us that our kids understand the text as our family’s story, and that these stories become part of their story.

What about teaching – do you have sermons?

Well, sometimes there’s a sermonette, written by our Abbess. We read writers like Anne Lammott, and Henri Nowen…and sometimes David Sedaris. We let each other know what’s on our minds, and we forward thought-provoking stuff around on our listserve. We recommend books and read chapters to each other over dinner. In lieu of lecturing us, our Abbess blogs—as do lots of other Monkfish folk. We’re a teaching/learning community—peers who live and learn together.

What about Worship?

We have a really generous understanding of what “worship” is, so we worship a lot. We worship when we’re having a good conversation, cutting up the bread for supper, working on a new painting, or writing a book proposal. We also worship via prayer beads, lectio divina, the ignatian examen, Sabbath keeping, lighting candles as prayer, and tithing to our neighbors in need. We intercede through art, preach through how we live, and pray through yoga…and sometimes, we even get out the guitar and sing.

What are your Credentials?

We know, we sound a little fishy. Our Abbess, Rachelle Mee-Chapman has been an ordained and licensed minister since 2001 and served as a associate pastor at the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Seattle before founding Monkfish Abbey. She holds a masters in applied and spiritual theology from Regent College, a transdenominational graduate school in Vancouver, BC. At Regent, Rachelle studied under Eugene PetersonGordon Fee, Bruce Waltke, and Thena Ayres, among others. Her ordination is held by the Vineyard Community Church where her mentor, Pastor Rose Swetman offers her regular guidance. Rachelle is a member of Spiritual Directors International and she and Paul are founding members of a little group called the Missional Cooperative, which also includes Dwight Friesen, professor of theology at Mars Hill Graduate School and Neil Tibbot of Church Ministries Resources. Rachelle has been a guest lecturer/presenter at Seattle Pacific University, Bakke Graduate School, Off the Map conferences and Emergent Conventions. Rachelle has been published in Next Wave, CBE’s Mutuality journal, and OTM’s Idea Lab. She is involved with the Emerging Women’s Leadership Network and is referenced in Emerging Churches by Ryan Bolger and Eddie Gibbs.

Julia Child and a Monkfish [by Steve Hansen/TimePix] from Abbey is connected with Hothouse Northwest, a group of postmodern community planters, and with Emergent US. Church of the Apostles, a Lutheran/Episcopalian church-plant down the street, is our sister Abbey. Friends like Jim Henderson of Off the Map and author of A.K.A. Lost and Brian McClaren, author of A New Kind of Christian and Generous Orthodoxy keep us on our toes by helping us be theologically attentive.

Our Monkfish regulars also add to their credentials to our community. Paul Chapman, our Host, has a graduate degree in church history from Regent College. Founding monk Lindell Alderman has completed his master’s degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary. We are regularly joined by students from Mars Hill Graduate and Seattle Pacific University, where our monks are studying theology and counseling. Other monks are taking women’s studies at the University of Washington; pursuing careers in early child development; traveling to improver their language and cross-cultural communication skills; and learning about community building by be present to the streets, pubs, and coffee shops of Seattle. Each person at the Abbey brings resources and depth to our community and anchor us in lived-in experiences where faith and life regularly overlap.

Are you going to try to convert me?

Nope. That’s not our job. But we will move through life with you, and we do try to inspire and support each other to more wholistic shalom-y living and giving.