It’s been a couple of years since Pamela and I have had the opportunity to enjoy some “R and R” along with some significant head and heart learning at Sorrento Centre. Our week of building community, learning, worshipping, and enjoying the bounty of the Sorrento farm reminded me of just how important our camping ministry is in the over-all life of the church.
Sorrento is where young people experience Christian community for an extended period of time and create a natural life-rhythm where a life centred in Jesus becomes a natural choice. The same is true for Camp Artaban – a place closer to home which has influenced the lives of countless young people and families. For some, Sorrento and Artaban are the very life blood of their Christian walk. Their experiences at these places sustain them from year to year.
Phil Colvin, along with his co-leader, Dakota, were leading the LEAP leadership institute for young people during our time at Sorrento, and I was reminded of what dedicated youth leadership we have among us who are equipped to provide first-rate opportunities for young people – both in terms of personal skill development and spiritual formation. One young man from North Vancouver I spoke to told me he’s in the LEAP program because of previous Artaban camps and retreats with Phil that he’s been a part of. It all fits together.
For my part, I enjoyed a wonderful week with Alan Gassar and his wife Becca Whitla in a Worldsong course. I can now sing Georgian folk songs that ring with the rhythms and sounds of the Caucasus mountains as well as beautiful Psalm settings such as the Psalm 23 setting by Bobby McFerrin that he wrote in honor of his mother. Pamela enjoyed a week with Phoebe McCrae who is a skilled Anat Baniel practitioner and teacher. That experience, she says, was both physically and spiritually renewing. Other courses on eco-spiritualily and exploration of self through painting augmented the program. Martin Elfert, working along with Becca Whitla provided us with worship that was touching, innovative, and Christ-exhalting. You just had to be there.
I certainly want to share Sorrento and Artaban-like experiences with my friends and their children. As Artaban faces financial and facility challenges, and as Sorrento Centre embarks on a significant capital campaign looking toward the future, I’m reminded of the significant on-going commitment it takes for Anglicans to have facilities where individuals and families can come to be together, learn together, grow together and celebrate a common life in Christ together.
Pamela and I have made a three year commitment to the Sorrento Capital Campaign and we hope others will follow in supporting the generation of needed resources to Sorrento and Artaban. We cannot afford to be without these places. In fact, I would challenge us to think about consolidating some of our parish work in the diocese, and then make significant investment in our youth and in families by enhancing our communal camping and retreat resources. It’s the direction we need to go in.
As Kimberly Blair, summer staffer at Sorrento, active executive member of the BC and Yukon Anglican Youth Movement, and student in “The Seven” mentorship program in our diocese this year pointed out, because of places like Artaban and Sorrento, youth are the only demographic that is growing exponentially among us. Numbers at conferences and youth training programs at Sorrento are growing exponentially. Thanks be to God!
We all know we must change the way we are doing “church” and let go of some of our archaic structures in favor of investing in what’s working now, and will work for the future development of life of God among us. In fact, Sorrento and Artaban have been key in building the base for what will be the joyous celebration of 100 years of Anglican youth ministry in British Columbia which will be commemorated in gala style in Abbotsford this coming Thanksgiving.
How much are Artaban and Sorrento a part of your parish life? What more can your parish do to support these key structures in our communal Christian life? Let’s get serious about the opportunities that lie before us. We can certainly do without a church building – or two or three- in our diocesan life, but we cannot do without key structures that sustain our corporate life – like Sorrento Centre and Camp Artaban.
It’s as simple as that.
Rev. Steve Bailey is a deacon at St. Laurence Anglican Church, Coquitlam, and an Anglican presence at the First Call Child Advocacy Coalition, the Living Wage Campaign, and the Vancouver Metro Alliance.