On February 14, nearly fifty youth boarded a bus heading to the 2020 Winter Youth Retreat at Sorrento Centre over the Family Day long weekend. Many were returnees from years passed and several were brand new to the event. By the end of the weekend an atmosphere of friendship and inclusiveness surrounded everyone.
This year’s theme was “Know Thyself: Growing up and Learning Ourselves in Faith” and the keynote speaker was Jessi Taylor, PhD, an experienced educator, activist and facilitator. With her background in theology and ethics, she guided the group through connecting theology with our real lives and needs and thinking critically about the messages we receive about who we are in and out of church.
Several workshops and activities invited youth to further explore themselves and their faith. These included a Harry Potter-themed bible study, and a workshop in which participants inscribed ancient Hebrew from Deuteronomy 6:4 on gold foil, put it in a small glass case, and created a pendant. And, of course, lots of board games, and a rousing game of capture the flag in the snow were played. We even blessed the new kitchen at Sorrento! The Reverend Cameron Gutjahr, with giant pastry brush in hand and holy water led us in prayer and sprinkling of the newly renovated space. Another highlight was the evening prayer held around a bonfire, albeit smoky, and led by the Reverend Andrew Halladay, Vicar of St. Andrew's, Langley. The Right Reverend Lynne McNaughton, Bishop of the Diocese of Kootenay attended for a night and brought her warm presence to the group.
On Monday morning as we packed up, stripped our bedding, and tidied the common areas, several youth said they wished they could stay longer. These are the words we hope to hear every year. The diocesan youth ministry is grateful to God they were heard again. The next DYM (Diocesan Youth Ministry) event is the Maundy Thursday sleepover at the Cathedral on April 9. Save the date!
Photos: Jessica Schaap (except where noted)