And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews 10:24-25
I write this at Wilderness Edge Retreat and Conference Centre situated on the Winnipeg River in Pinawa, Manitoba. For the second year, the clerics of the Diocese of Rupertsland and the pastors and professional leaders of the ELCIC Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Synod are meeting together for our annual study days. Our Full Communion relationship under the terms of the Waterloo Accord continues to deepen and grow.
We are about sixty or seventy priests, deacons, pastors, and other professional leaders from the Manitoba Northwestern Ontario Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (affectionately known as MNO, since the other takes several breaths to say) and the Diocese of Rupertsland. Our speaker is inviting us into a serious look at what it means to live as disciples of Jesus in the 21st century. Our annual gathering began Tuesday evening with a celebration of the Eucharist together. Yesterday we listened to our guest speaker in two sessions in the morning. After a free afternoon, we gathered in the evening in the two groups, Anglican and Lutheran, to spend a little time on more local issues and questions. The official agenda ended with both groups together again with Evening Prayer, even as we had begun with Morning Prayer. Today again, Morning Prayer followed by two more sessions with Stephanie, who will speak to us again this evening, before we share in Evening Prayer, and once more tomorrow morning after we open the day with Morning Prayer.
The Rev. Stephanie Douglas-Bowman is Associate Priest at Christ Church (Anglican), Brampton, in the Diocese of Toronto. She has a B.A. in linguistics from McGill and an M.A. in theology from Wycliffe College at the Toronto School of Theology. Officially the name of our conference is ‘Discipleship: Christian formation in multiple contexts.’ This fits beautifully with our Diocesan focus of Discipleship: Discovery, Development, Deployment. Stephanie’s presentations are rich, the conversations with her and around the presentations even richer.
But it is the gathering as a whole, with the presentations included, of course, that is the greatest blessing. It’s a time for all of us who are priests, deacons, pastors, bishops, and other professional leaders in the church to deepen friendships and make new ones, to strengthen working relationships, or to mend them if they need mending, to support those among us who are feeling bruised and battered, and mostly just be together in worship, and fellowship, sharing meals, and relaxation and recreation. It is a very important gathering for us, and, I think, good for the rest of the church in our diocese and synod. I appreciate very much the opportunity to be here, and am glad that the bishop requires it of us. Here we can indeed “provoke one another to love and good deeds… encouraging one another.”
Thanks be to God!