On the first weekend of March, 75 people from different denominations gathered at the Parish of St. Dunstan for the Awaken Love weekend conference.
With speakers from the United Church, the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and other non-denominational churches, it was truly an ecumenical experience for many.
The bishop sent this letter of welcome to the attendees:
Welcome to this conference Awaken Love. It is a brilliant title as it speaks to what all of us Christians are called to do: awaken to love. To awaken ourselves to God’s deep and resounding love for us, a love that surrounds us, blesses us, holds us, binds us, and encourages us.It is a love that invites us to fully live into it and to be transformed by it.
Faith in God is a journey. It was referred to as The Way by early Christians and this speaks to a path, a pilgrimage, a time to grow, a time to renew. The Way is filled with moments of deepening our hope and trust in God: moments to allow ourselves to grow more fully into who God is calling us to be. Jesus invited us to enter this path and come to know more about the kingdom of heaven, that is, a deeper understanding of God’s relationship with us. He used parables of mustard seeds and yeast and a pearl of great value. But in our own lives we may awaken to it through a sense that something is missing for us: a greater depth, a greater meaning, a greater purpose to life.
Welcome to this opportunity to come to know more about this greater depth, meaning and purpose to life. Welcome to this conference of Awaken Love where you will have opportunity to examine more carefully your relationship with God who calls us beloved. May you be guided on The Way by the Holy Spirit as you do.
Blessings and Peace
Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster
The speakers, which included Jason Byassee, formerly of the Vancouver School of Theology, Cathy AJ Hardy, local retreat leader and musician, and Bradly Jersak, local theologian and author, reflected throughout the weekend on the Transfiguration of Christ from the Gospel according to Matthew. Their messages of faith in transition resonated with the attendees and gave new insight into their spiritual journeys.
With workshop leaders and spiritual directors on hand, attendees were surrounded by prayerful support during the conference and were treated to classic St. Dunstan hospitality with delicious food and a lively Sunday morning Eucharist.
For many, this was an opportunity to hear from other Christian traditions to wrestle with the important issues of faith in Christ. The cross-denominational attendees shared their own experiences of faith from their own traditions in small groups and during the many opportunities for coffee and food.
For some, it was their first experience of the Anglican tradition, and were enriched by the Anglican liturgy on Sunday morning.
Ecumenism is alive and well in the valley and we look forward to another conference in the future.
Many thanks to the Diocesan Mission and Ministry for their support of this project.