Written by Kat Goheen, Shannon McAdam & Gwyn Beer
Canada West Mission Centre President Team
Just a few weeks ago all three of us got to attend the Nurturing Spirit retreat put on by Creating Connection in BC. While perhaps the most immediately memorable moment was waking up Sunday morning to a foot of snow, the impact of the stories and wisdom shared there will linger in our hearts for a long time. In connecting about the very human topic of caring for ourselves, we got to listen to the vulnerabilities and struggles of those gathered. As folks shared of challenging times they’ve experienced in marriages, in parent-child relationships, and in workplaces, what stood out were the imperfections of life that connect us. There was a certain beauty in the vulnerable and gracious sharing that took place.
What a relief to be reminded that no one is perfect! It was a joy to sit with one another in truth instead of behind the armour we sometimes wear to protect ourselves and appear perfect. How beautiful to see our scarred and wrinkled fleshy faces, made in God’s image, rather than the smooth masks we often hide behind. Experiences like these can remind us that we offer kind and genuine ministry when we lead from our truths and scars, rather than in spite of our truths and scars.
As we draw closer to world conference many issues facing the church rest heavy on our hearts, not because of the legislation but because behind that legislation there are individuals who are impacted by the results of the decisions that are made. Could our policies reflect a pastoral and generous acknowledgement of our humanity and imperfection? When we consider decisions let us remember that imperfect humans like ourselves can feel more or less included in our church family as a result of those decisions.
Remembering that none of us are perfect, like Jesus reminded the crowd when they were about to cast stones, can help us be more compassionate to one another, and, more importantly perhaps, to ourselves. Hiding our struggles and our truths perpetuates shame and fear. Sharing our true selves brings in light, communal support, and reminds us all that we are not alone.
Written by Gwyn Beer
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
We have been told that our president Steve Veazey is retiring. At World Conference in 2025, we will elect a new prophet/president. We have been asked to move forward in discerning who that will be. It has been suggested that we follow a month of prayer then a month to share.
March is Prayer, April is Share….
There is an excellent video from Steve Veazey about the process that he is hoping we will all participate in. It is available to you on the church website here.
So… March is prayer, the start of the process. You are being asked to join with others and you can write and submit your prayer.
When Kat, Shannon and I shared about Steve, Shannon
said how he has shifted focus to us being a prophetic people instead of a people with a prophet. I am hoping to let the spirit take me on a journey to get to know those who might be able to lead this church. I hope to discern my future and the future of this church.
Here is my prayer for discernment, what will your prayer be?
Dear God, Give me the patience to slow down, breathe in and feel your spirit. I pray for inspiration and wisdom. I pray that if and when I share, I will give value to the conversation about our future. Amen
Written by Kat Goheen
Canada West Mission Centre Co-President
I began studying Discernment Facilitation with Katie Harmon-McLaughlin earlier this year, and it’s been such an enriching experience. Someone recently asked to hear more about this course experience, so this seemed a good way to begin!
Below is a short summary of my learning from the course so far (under 9 minutes):
In Vancouver, we’ve been involved in a visioning process for 9 months, so it has been interesting to take this class and read these books now – like learning how to operate a car half-way through a drive in the Rockies! So much of this work is more about who we are than what we do. In spiritual discernment we’re called to lay aside our figuring out minds and turn our hearts to God – really listening for an answer on our future direction.
Sounds more like spiritual direction or prayer than most business meetings! On that note, how can our business meetings feel more like spiritual practice than corporate governance? Asking good questions is central to this work of spiritual discernment facilitation, and one good question often leads to another, with the eventual truth that all discernment leads to action.
I hope that you will ask yourself how much you can allow God into your most private deliberations, for yourself and for your community. I am practicing it myself, and while I experience moments of fear and loss of the illusion of control, it feels close to my core when I get there. Blessings to you in your discernments!
Written by Debra Donohue
Creating Connection Director
Creating Connection’s ‘Nurturing Spirit Retreat: Connecting through Self Care’ was held last weekend at Stillwood Camp and Conference Centre at Cultus Lake in BC.
A few people had to cancel due to weather … it snowed over a foot at the campground on Saturday, but we ended up with a lovely group of 24 over the course of the weekend and 25% were first timers! This retreat focused on recognizing the signs of burn out and creating action plans to take care of ourselves so that we live happy lives, and so we have the capacity to care for others.
Alexis Beer, our guest speaker, who has a long list of qualifications and training, did a great job leading us through the topic. Everyone agreed her sessions were interesting, thought provoking, and stimulated lots of conversation. And let me tell you about the music. It was amazing! Edith Wallace led us in two meditations of sound, a concert Saturday night, and sent us off with a song which we all danced to on Sunday morning. I think Saturday night may have been my favourite Edith Wallace concert to date. Check her out on Spotify.
Kat Goheen brought her harp and gently strummed us into another mediation and Shannon McAdam taught us how to use needlepoint as a way to focus our thoughts and be mindful.
We spent time playing Pictionary and our theme was, of course, self care activities. Gwyn Beer brought a 1000-piece puzzle (which we didn’t quite finish) and there was free time to walk in nature and explore the grounds.
Although Stillwood is not Samish Island, which is so near and dear to many of us, there were several benefits to using this campground. First, it’s in BC so most of us didn’t have to cross the border, make sure we had up to date passports and purchase travel insurance. Although 3 people came from the US and they crossed the border to be with us. Second, it’s a large and busy campground so they have staff to do all the cleanup in the buildings and after meals (woo hoo!) And Third, we didn’t have to pay the US exchange rate which is around 30% right now.
We’re looking at going back next year, but maybe we’ll try to go in March. The weather is a little more predictable then, or at least one can hope.
I’ve included a group photo, a walking group photo, a photo of the Edith Wallace concert, doing needlepoint, and my car Sunday morning covered in snow. If you weren’t there, we missed you and hope you can join us next time.
Watch for details on our next Creating Connection Retreat "Creating Community: Where Spirit, Nature and Justice Meet" June 1-4 at Samish Island. This retreat will be a mindful and exciting combination of Nurturing Spirit and Nurturing Justice.
community of christ
355 Elmira Road North, Unit 129
Guelph, ON N1K 1S5 Canada
Canada West Mission: 877-411-2632
Canada East Mission: 888-411-7537