Willow Martin-Seedhouse of the Jubilee Clusber, and Meagan and Caitlyn Klarenbach of St. Philip's, Vancouver, carefully sort co-op coffee beans. (Samatha Cawker photos)
Visit to Guatemala inspires pilgrims

By Samantha Cawker
Christ Church Cathedral

“The object of pilgrimage is not rest and recreation—to get away from it all. To set out on a pilgrimage is to throw down a challenge to everyday life.” - Huston Smith

This past spring, two groups of young people from the Diocese of B.C. and the Diocese of New Westminster "threw down a challenge to everyday life" and headed to the Guatemalan Highlands for two weeks.

This pilgrimage engaged these youth in a life-changing experience, where they had opportunity to reflect on their faith, God's creation, the dynamics of global relationships, and their role in justice-making. They also met with various local groups working for change in the country, including the Comité Campesino del Altiplano (the Campesino Committee of the Highlands), an organization defending workers' rights on large coffee, sugar and cotton plantations.

Each group spent a week of their pilgrimage at the CCDA office in Quixaya, a small village in the highlands near San Lucas Tolimon.

The young adult group, which had traveled to Guatemala in February, worked with CCDA leaders to construct a chicken habitat, and the youth group, which took their pilgrimage in March, built a series of rabbit hutches.The CCDA will use these projects are prototypes to educate communities about sustainable economic practices, which will have a ripple effect on Guatemalan economic empowerment.

The CCDA, working with French and Canadian organizations, also exports a fair-trade coffee under the name Café Justicia. Both pilgrimage groups experienced the coffee production process, learning the dynamics of fair trade and even spending hours at a table sorting bad coffee beans from good ones!

- Sam Fricker of St. Andrew's Langley, and Caitlyn Klarenbach of St. Philip's constructing a rabbit hutch.

Although the majority of the trip was spent with the CCDA nailing wood and wrapping chicken wire, each group visited significant Guatemalan sites in neighboring cities, such as the Parque de Paz (Peace Park) in Santiago, where a monument recounts the innocent deaths of 11 peaceful protestors.

They also contemplated justice and martyrdom in the chapel in Santiago, a converted space that once belonged to Father Stanley Rother A'plas, an American priest who was gunned down in his sleep for refusing to abandon the Guatemalan people.

The pilgrims also encountered social justice groups like Rights Action, where people not much older than they are continue to network with humanitarian groups all over the world for economic and social justice in Guatemala.

The hope of pilgrimages such as this one is that these opportunities will plant seeds of leadership and an understanding of justice in young people that will eventually influence the landscape of Canadian communities struggling with social issues. Already, the pilgrims have come back with a more informed sense of their place in the world.

"We met a few people who have even inspired me to start changing the whole way I exist as a Canadian," said Erika Bland, 19. "From buying fair trade, to turning off the tap when I brush my teeth…we are going to do great things, as a result of this experience, all of us."

This pilgrimage has changed the way these individuals from our two diocese see the world, and already they are nurturing the relationships they've made during their travels. The CCDA needs a transportation vehicle for their operations, and led by young adults who went to Guatemala in February, fundraising is underway to purchase one.

To find out how you can get involved in this or other initiatives underway or to make a donation, please contact Erika Bland at blandwithak@hotmail.com.

Dance worship attracts 100 youth

Dance & Cosmic Ritual for Justice, Peace & Liberation

By:  Philip Murray,
Youth Ministry Director, St. Mary’s Kerrisdale

On Saturday, March 19th, an eclectic group of people from the Church, Vancouver's Latin-American community, and from Vancouver’s dance community gathered at St. Michael's Anglican Church in East Vancouver to dance, participate in a Cosmic Ritual, and commemorate the 25th anniversary of the assassination of Monsenor Oscar Romero (Archbishop of San Salvador). 

The Parish Hall was set up with lights, fabrics and altars in the four directions.  DJ’s played a wide range of beats and musical styles bringing participants through a Cosmic Ritual the likes of which has not been experienced before in Vancouver.  A Cosmic Ritual is essentially post-modern worship where a DJ and house music replaces the organ and choir, dancing freely in an open space replaces standing in pews and singing hymns, and storytelling replaces sermons. 

At Libertad, participants were treat to a reflection and teaching by Father Jon Cortina - a famous Jesuit Priest from El Salvador, Rev. Emilie Smith of St. Michael’s telling us the story of Romero, and awesome dancing facilitated by Corrine Chepil, Luna, Bettina Rothe & Joy Kerfoot.  About 100 people attended the event, a significant number of whom were aged 18-30 and not from the church.  It was so incredible for me to witness a priest, a bishop, a world-famous Jesuit, elders from the church, and kids from my youth ministry, all who normally gather for ritual to be present at a dance, and be joined and outnumbered by folks who normally gather for a dance, and who came to a ritual.

Here is a sampling of the feedback we have received from those who attended Libertad:

“I was awed and floored by the Cosmic Mass. It represented a synthesis I've been dreaming about for years, incorporating the spiritual, political, historic and creative intelligences … at the Cosmic Mass it all came together for me. Yeah I sure did get down! I sweated it hard, laughed and screamed and played. It all made so much sense to me, physically and intellectually.  Huge ups to everyone involved in this, thank you for having the bravery to reach out, ask for help, overcome the barriers and make for the connections.”   Carmen

“WOW!!  This event was truly a magical and transformative experience. Tribal dance gatherings have always been the place where i commune with spirit...but this event definitely took that to another level.  I feel deeply honoured to have been a part of the creation of such a beautiful event.”  Luna

“My only question is "when, oh when, is the next cosmic mass?"  This was an amazing experience. I'm so honoured that I got to be a part of it.”   Johanna

Libertad was the first event produced by a team of local ministers and artists who are dedicated to bringing the Cosmic Mass to Vancouver.  Developed in the 1990's by Matthew Fox, an Episcopal Priest and Theologian from Oakland California, the Cosmic Mass combines the cutting edge of dance music and style commonly found at “rave” events, with the depth and mystery of the catholic mass.  By using Fox’s "Four Paths of Creation Spirituality" (Via Positiva, Via Negativa, Via Creativa & Via Transformativa), the Cosmic Mass is a dance ritual that closely parallels the traditional Christian mass liturgy in form, during which the sacrament is celebrated.

For information on the Cosmic Mass and future events, please visit www.cosmicmass.ca


Coming Events

WAYNet Workers Meet & Mingle

After Synod, Saturday May 14, 4:30pm. Kelsey's, North Vancouver, 1378 Main St. Please RSVP Mark Hainsworth at mark@lfw.org

Satsang Benefit Concert  - Multi-faith Youth Concert, Christ Church Cathedral

Enjoy a variety of multi-faith artistic performances from Lower Mainland youth, and discussion afterwards. Admission by donation benefits the Environmental Youth Alliance.  Sunday May 15, 7-9pm.  For more info, contact Samantha Cawker at 604 682-3848 ext. 24.

Youth Group Meetings

St. Alban, Burnaby
7717 19th Ave. (at Canada way)
Contact: Joel Wagler
joel-wagler@yahoo.co.uk or 604 522-4363
Sundays, 10am, bible study
Twice a month activities plus retreats and camping

St. Alban, Richmond
7260 St. Alban's Road, Richmond
Contact: Elegwen O'Maoileoin
elegwen@yahoo.ca or 604-551-2023
Youth grade 8-college: Thursdays 7-9:30pm.
Sr. Youth: 3rd Friday dinner, 5-8:30pm.

Christ Church Cathedral
690 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Contact: Samantha Cawker
Samantha@cathedral.vancouver.bc.ca or 604 682-3848 ext. 24
Grades 6-8: Sundays, 1-3pm;
Grades 9-12: Sundays, 3:30-5:30pm

Holy Trinity Cathedral
514 Carnarvon St., New Westminster
Contact: Kevin Bespflug
kevinbespflug@shaw.ca or 604 521-2511
Youth meet once a month at the 9:15 am service, often with a social event afterwards.

Holy Trinity, Vancouver
1440 West 12 Ave (at Hemlock)
Contact: Art Matheny
Senior Youth: Thursdays, 7pm
Junior Youth: Every other Friday
604 731-3221
VIBE worship service
First Sunday of the month, 7pm
"The Vibe" is a contemporary service for youth and young adults.

St. Laurence
825 St. Laurence Street, Coquitlam
Contact: Matthew Peron
stlaurence@telus.net or 604 936-5423
Youth meet two Sundays a month, usually in the evening.

St. Mary's Kerrisdale
2490 West 37th Ave, Vancouver
Contact: Philip Murray
pmurray@stmaryskerrisdale.ca or
604 261-4228
Jr. Youth: Sundays 3-5pm;
Sr. Youth: Sundays 11:30am-2:30pm.
College & Careers: Sundays 5:30-8pm.
website: www.stmarysyouth.ca

St. Philip's Dunbar
3737 West 27th Avenue
Contact: Michelle Vondette
604 224-3238
Sunday mornings, 9:30am
website: www.stphilipsdunbar.com