Intentional Spiritual Community

Author: Katherine Burgess.
Contents current as of November 28, 2013.
Pictured at the November 2013 Conference for Presbyterian Church in Canada Ministers at Crieff Hills Community: Garfield Havemann, Barb Fotheringham, Mike Maroney, Fred Stewart, Katherine Burgess, Ian Shaw, Cherie Inksetter, David Sherbino.
Pictured at the November 2013 Conference for Presbyterian Church in Canada Ministers at Crieff Hills Community: Garfield Havemann, Barb Fotheringham, Mike Maroney, Fred Stewart, Katherine Burgess, Ian Shaw, Cherie Inksetter, David Sherbino.


Having just finished the three-day retreat for Presbyterian Church in Canada ministers – two full days bracketed by two half days – at Crieff Hills, I spent some time listening to the comments of the other participants, and was struck by how often certain words came up. With that in mind, I decided to expand on them a little.

COMMUNITY: Everyone needs community. The church itself is a community. Yet, how often are ministers themselves denied access to their own community, one where they feel free not to be perfect? One where they are able to share concerns with like-minded people? This is one thing which happened here in November. We came together – some of us not knowing each other, and before the first full day was over, we were a community. Tonight, I listened to a youth choir singing We Are Not Alone, and, as a result of the time in Crieff, it took on a whole other meaning.

BLESSED: I was reminded of the Beatitudes, as this word kept coming up in people's comments. And, because of what people said after the fact, I decided to write my own. Blessed are those who come together in a place away, for they shall discover things about themselves that they never knew before. I heard colleagues share their stories – all unique, and yet all oddly similar. I saw colleagues cry, and knew that these were healing tears.

DISCIPLINE: The spiritual disciplines talked about by David Sherbino gave each of us something to take away, something which we can work into our own lives. Many commented on the fact that most people would assume that spiritual disciplines are already a part of a minister's life, but the fact is that, like just about everyone else in this 21st century, ministers are busy people. Bringing spiritual disciplines to the forefront is one way for us to get back into relationship with God.

RELATIONSHIP: This was a key concept – the idea of building relationships with God and with each other. It is through relationships that we can grow in our faith, and hence in our ability to share it with others.

Thanks to Fred and to David for an amazing time apart. I could only wish that more of my colleagues, many of whom are struggling alone, could have been there. Then they would have known that they are NOT alone.

— Rev. Katherine Burgess,
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church,
Quebec City, QC <katherine.burgess.pcc@gmail.com>

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