Anglicans from parishes across Trent-Durham looked to the wilderness for inspiration during their annual area day discussions at St. Peter, Cobourg on March 3. The theme was “Church in the Wilderness: Hearing God’s Call in the 21st Century.”
In her homily, Bishop Riscylla Shaw challenged participants to see how a wilderness experience can lead to transformation and testimony. “The favour of God will change lives,” she said. “Do you believe it?”
In a session on “Finding God and Ourselves in the Wilderness,” Sylvia Keesmaat asked people to brainstorm stories from scripture where people found themselves there. When they put these examples on a timeline, it quickly became apparent that the wilderness is a recurring theme throughout the entire Bible. “The story continually goes to places of deep darkness, but it’s in these places where God works for redemption,” she said.
Br. David Bryan Hoopes, OHC, led a discussion on “Prayer and Spiritual Practices in the Wilderness.” He emphasized the importance of really wanting to be with God. “It shouldn’t just be, in the words of our lovely Prayer Book, ‘bounden duty and service,’” he said.
As well, he spoke of the value in understanding which activities are most meaningful for us as individuals. “It is important to grasp what really works for us. Is it music? Is it walking? Is it poetry? Is it serving in the soup kitchen? Our lives are our prayer.”
In the discussion circle on “Parishes in the Wilderness,” Bill Bickle and Anne Martin discussed techniques they use to encourage restorative discussions in churches facing disagreements. “Just like our relationship with God is a conversation, so is our relationship with a congregation,” said Mr. Bickle.
The area day’s 104 attendees benefitted from an area-wide team of organizers led by the Rev. Bryce Sangster and about 15 local volunteers from St. Peter’s. “We’ve got a great facility and we’re glad to host,” said the Rev. Canon Richard Miller, priest-in-charge.
Submitted by Mike Winterburn, a member of St. Martin, Bay Ridges in Pickering.