Thursday, January 17, 2013, Maylanne and I drove, in minus 30 temperatures, on the treacherous and icy roads to Kenora, to lead a weekend retreat for the Diocese of Keewatin. Deacons, lay readers and priests gathered from the Diocese for a time of renewal and learning. Opportunities for worship, prayer and exploration of spiritual disciplines provided time for stillness and meditative reflection. We are grateful for the gracious hosting of the good folks of St. Alban’s Cathedral.
Input sessions and discussion examined ecclesiological models, lectionary passages and David B. Clark’s work in Breaking the Mould of Christendom: Kingdom Community, Diaconal Church and the Liberation of the Laity. In this text, Clark contrasts the model of church that we in the West have inherited (Christendom) with a model of church that is on a journey toward becoming inclusive and open (diaconal church). Clark’s material challenges many assumptions about the church’s entrenched commitment to institutional status quo and maintenance.
To identify and analyze issues of social and environmental concern in the Keewatin context, we employed an adapted version of a popular education and analysis tool, the “Aha” seminar. We were particularly grateful to the indigenous participants for their insights and challenges about seeing the world from a colonial perspective.
Saturday, January 19, was devoted to the practicing of preaching and public speaking. Those involved shared a brief sermon or presentation and openly received feedback from their peers. The process proved to be encouraging and enlightening for everyone.
The weekend was designed consultatively with the context of the diocese in mind. We were able to share CCS’s educational resources and experiential learning style in a way that was engaging and participatory. The rich mixture of cross-cultural listening, spiritual exercises, intellectual stimulation, contextual analysis, and ecclesial challenge worked together to make for a significant and profound experience.