We rolled into beautiful Parksville on Monday, April 24. Various clergy started arriving to check-in at the conference facility, the Bayside Inn. Great reunions began even at this early stage as many that hadn’t seen each other for a long time, embraced and caught up. Some met for the first time.
In person and interactive presentations were done by Marv Westwood and Lin Langley from the Diocese of New Westminster. They brought two guest clergy, also from their diocese, Matthew Johnson and Joyce Locht. They were a diverse and interesting team.
We were in a beautiful location at the Bayside Oceanside Resort. The meals were great and the service was excellent. Our bishop, Anna Greenwood-Lee, jumped up on a chair to greet us all and start things off before the sound system was operational. Her invitation to the work ahead and her own participation in it encouraged us all.
In attendance were recently ordained clergy and several very new members to our diocese. I heard them say that they felt welcomed. In that spirit, they developed and strengthened relationships with their colleagues. We had ample breaks to process the work, walk the beach, sleep, do other work, and oh yes — HAVE FUN!
Some clergy proposed the idea of a golf tournament and costume contest at the nearby miniature golf facility. Those who took part had a tremendous amount of fun. Score keeping was loose at best and there were prizes given for various categories. The awards presentation was like the Golden Globes or the Emmy Awards with lots of anticipation and drum rolls. There is talk of this tournament becoming an annual tradition.
Please do ask your local clergy how they found the conference. I heard comments that it was one of the best ever, how great it was to be fully together. I felt the presence of God in all the good spirited interactions.
We came away with some answers and tools that were very practical in responding to questions of how we build resiliency for the way forward. This is pertinent to all clergy and to you as we navigate the waters of the 21st century church.
By taking care of ourselves, we ensure that all the gifts that God has given us will continue to be well cared for, nurtured and fed by us and our closest people. We each need partners and companions on the journey. We did hear a few suggestions for improvement, although most comments that I heard were incredibly positive.
Do encourage your own clergy today as we embrace the bright future of our church — God’s church in this place. Thank you for investing in this Clergy Conference 2023.