We Together, our semi-annual diocesan conference is fast approaching and will be held at St Paul, Nanaimo from Friday, Sept. 30 to Saturday, Oct. 1. It has been a long couple of years without diocesan-wide in-person gatherings, and we invite you to join us for an inspiring and hope-filled couple of days.
The theme of this year’s conference will be “Here in This Place.” We will be looking at the particular context we find ourselves in here in the Diocese of Islands and Inlets. We will begin our time together with a banquet on Friday night. It will be a time to remember one another and celebrate being in each other’s presence. Bishop Anna will open our time with a reflection on how we are called to be God’s people here on these islands and inlets, a particular piece of God’s creation unlike any other, with its own beauty, its own complicated history and its own changing demographics and realities. We are called as church to be God’s Church in this place, in this time — a time and place like no other. What is God birthing in our midst that we are called to pay attention to and midwife?
Two keynote addresses will bring us into greater understanding of what being God’s people in these islands and inlets entails. Jillian Harris is a knowledge holder, Elder and former Chief of the Penelakut Tribe. She studied at Vancouver School of Theology and is a traditional funeral worker in her community. You can read a little bit more about her in this Anglican Journal article. She will invite us to remember the earliest Church of England missions here on these islands and inlets, and what they might mean for us now. We will consider this part of our history, which is tied up with the story of colonialism, and yet contains stories of faithfulness as well. Jillian sometimes refers to herself as a “reverse missionary” and we welcome her ministry to us in this spirit.
The other keynote speaker will be Rachel Brown. Rachel is the program coordinator at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria. She is a religious studies scholar who has had an integral role in the project that has culminated in the publication of Religion at the Edge: Nature, Spirituality, and Secularity in the Pacific Northwest (UBC Press 2022). This work is a collection of essays produced as a result of a multi-disciplinary collaborative research project on the social-spiritual context of Cascadia (the bioregion that spans BC, Washington and Oregon). This is a region that now has more people who identify as having no religious affiliation than all those who are religiously affiliated combined. This level of secularity combines with what Paul Bramadat calls “reverential naturalism” (which speaks to a prevailing disposition to the natural world), making Cascadia a fascinating place in terms of religion. You can watch a short intro to the project here:
Rachel will highlight some of the key observations of the project and their implications for us, and help us form a better understanding of the social and spiritual context in which we are called to serve.
There will be small group discussions after each keynote to make meaning with each other. We will end our time with the celebration of the Eucharist and a closing sermon by John Thatamanil, our diocesan theologian. John is a comparative theologian and professor of theology at Union Theological Seminary. He is scheduled to be ordained a priest in our diocese a couple days after this issue of Faith Tides has been published. John will reflect on our time together and send us back into our places with a renewed sense of what it means to be here in this place.
Registration information is available on the website. We highly anticipate this life-giving gathering after what has been a long time since we have been together in person.