By Debra Donohue
Samish Island Campground (Washington, USA)
Our first BC (British Columbia) Friends and Family Weekend was June 1-3, 2018 at Samish Island. It is an opportunity for you to introduce your non-churched friends to the beauty of our west coast campground, meet our great people, and connect in a setting without classes or religious context. We held a contemporary worship service on the Sunday morning, but anything else religious will come from questions or discussions prompted by our guests. The intention is to provide an easy introduction to Community of Christ and its members. It was so well attended by friends and family, that we will be decided to make it an annual event!
Invite People to Christ
By Kerry Richards
Canada East Mission Centre President
Three times a year our Mission Centre hosts Connection Retreats at one of our Community of Christ campgrounds. The unique feature of these events is that they are almost exclusively directed towards Seekers and non-attending heritage members of our faith community. Our last retreat had 57 attendees of which 65% were friends of faith who were unchurched, heritage members, those more spiritual than religious, Muslim, Humanist and Buddhist. For some this was their initial contact, with one person stating at the final gathering, ‘Thank God for Google Search” That is how she ended up being with us. Many are attendees from our 20+ Conversation Meetup Groups throughout the Mission Centre that meet weekly for meaningful dialogue and emerging friendships. Some heritage members are invited to experience Community of Christ reframed in a new way.
Our program is multi-faceted. The profile of most attendees as Seekers is spiritually based. We offer mind, body, spirit activities and practices from a variety of experiential forms. Tai Chi, yoga, labyrinth walks, guided meditation, drumming circles and others are offered. There are lectures, sacred listening groups, conversational dialogue and inter-faith learning as part of our experience. One of The Enduring Principles is our theme for the weekend. The chosen principle is introduced and woven into every dimension of our activities and final gathering. Identity displays, posters and memes in our gathering spaces help all internalize the precepts of Community of Christ inspired documents, mission and affirming inclusivity.
Amongst our participants are leaders from many walks of life. Practitioners from wellness clinics, life coaches, artisans, spiritual directors come to encounter sacred community. A characteristic of many” more spiritual than religious” is that they practice their spirituality on a solo basis. They meditate, they attend classes, they are coached and receive treatments from wellness practitioners using different modalities, however, they ultimately practice their spirituality in their personal silos. Our retreat offering is one of rich community dynamics where deep relationships, shared meaning, companioning, and expanding dialogue enhance each one’s spiritual wholeness. We create fun times and shared experiences unlike what 99% of people have ever experienced. This is one of the gifts of Community of Christ heritage blessings of our camping community. Seekers find belonging in this encounter of community interaction blended with spiritual attunement.
Testimonies abound. Our final gathering is a combination of many sacramental moments. Lives are touched, tears flow, hearts are opened, affirming expressions are widely shared one with another and sacred space is sensed with the Spirit abundantly present in our midst. We are immersed in joy. In our last retreat gathering we participated in a sports-type “wave” which flowed around the room with everyone rising with their arms in the air shouting out the word “joy” and other exclamations of boundless blessedness from the experience of the weekend. We experienced a place of safety and sanctuary from the world of stress, divisiveness and fear. As our community departed pledges of commitment to invite others, to become facilitators, to form groups evidenced the sense of belonging each one felt within and with one another. Community of Christ through our Creating Connection profile is reaching Seekers where they are locally, spiritually and emotionally. We extend their personal sense of spirituality into a sacred community experience which they discover is the home for that which they yearn. We are that home.
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