November 5-14, Pastor Tracey attended the first of a series of retreats for a program entitled Women Touched by Grace, a women’s clergy renewal program conducted by Benedict Inn and funded by Lilly. 20 women clergy from across the U.S. and Canada are a part of this group, representing nine denominations and 1 non-denominational church and coming from as far as Texas, Oregon and California. This program includes five retreats spread out over 2 ½ years. The second retreat (April 29 – May 8) will be the first activity of Tracey’s sabbatical, which begins April 25, 2019.
Our first retreat in November focused on Christian community in the Benedictine tradition. Benedict Inn is where I received my certification in spiritual direction so I have become very familiar (and appreciative) of this faith tradition in recent years. In many ways, there are strong similarities between Benedict (who established his monastic order in the 500’s) and John Wesley, founder of Methodism.
In Benedict’s time, it was not uncommon for people to go into the wilderness as hermits to seek God. But Benedict believed strongly that we grow closer to Christ through relationship with one another. John Wesley also believed that our faith grows best in the context of supportive and accountable Christian community. The Methodist movement began when John and Charles Wesley formed their “holiness club” at Oxford University. Early Methodism was structured around small grounds (named bands and societies). One might consider Wesley the inventor of the small group movement!
Benedict established his monastery around three primary vows: stability, fidelity and obedience.
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