Anne Kessler
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The DYM retreat held February 16-19, 2018, was the 6th annual February Winter Retreat for youth from grades 8 up to age 25 at Sorrento Centre. More than 40 youth and youth leaders gathered to reflect, play, eat, worship and spend time with friends new and old.

The Rev. Clarence Li, from St. Hilda’s Sechelt, was our theme speaker and spoke on the topic “Blessed are the Poor in Spirit”. Over the weekend we wondered together who are the poor in spirit, what we gain when we live into our own places of weakness, and what God reveals to us when we live in right relationship with those who are economically, socially or politically marginalized. For Clarence’s last session, groups of youth performed skits on the various Beatitudes as a way to reflect further on the topic.  

Clarence shared with us Sydney Carter’s song “I come as a Beggar” which we sang in worship together. The chorus is as follows:

By the hungry I will feed you,

By the poor I make you rich,

By the broken I will mend you,

Tell me, which one is which?

Worship is of course one of the most important parts of our weekends together. We had Evening Prayer on Friday and Sunday nights, Morning Prayer on Saturday and Eucharist on Sunday morning. We were led by Lauren and Jonathan Pinkney and a pick-up choir of those who wanted to join in and sing a wide variety of music.

Youth leaders from around the diocese offered workshops throughout the weekend, ranging from the PWRDF mapping exercise which invites participants into a conversation about Indigenous Land Justice, to prayer stations, to a workshop on God and Gender.

Sunday offered us two Winter Retreat traditions: “Winter Olympics” and Trivia Night. Every year we do some form of “Winter Olympics” – playing games out in the kind of deep snow we rarely see in the Lower Mainland. This weekend was the coldest in the 6 years at Sorrento – hovering between -10 and -15 – so we played a very short, but very fun, game of Capture the Flag. This helped get out some of the pent up energy from being mostly inside all weekend. Sunday night we played Trivia, led by two DYM Leaders, Anika and Jane, and competed about our knowledge on topics from pop music to video game history to sci-fi and fantasy.

Winter Retreat has always been intentionally a retreat – less scheduled than many youth weekends normally jam-packed with activities and games. Time to relax and meet other youth (and perhaps play some board games) was some of the most valuable time we spent together.

For me personally, my highlights of the weekend were Clarence’s talks and Sunday Eucharist. Clarence’s humour, his storytelling and his call to live out God’s mission in the world through our relationships inspired me, and, more importantly,  inspired the youth. Sunday morning Eucharist we celebrated in the round, one person passing the bread and the wine to the next. As we did this, I wondered about how many of the youth had ever had this experience of serving the bread and the wine to another – a perfect embodiment, a perfect living-out, of Clarence’s message that we are blessed when we serve others.  


  • A workshop on social justice and living on the street
  • The Reverend Clarence Li invites youth to wonder about the weekend’s theme “Blessed are the poor in Spirit”
  • A clear, crisp morning at Sorrento Centre
  • Youth administer the elements of the Eucharist to each other on Sunday morning 

More photos and captions available on Anglican Conversation - the Facebook Page of the Diocese of New Westminster