For the annual Anglican Women’s Retreat at St. Christopher, October 1-3, 2021, Dana Henry spoke on “Finding Our Identity in Christ,” using Isaiah 43:1 as her text:
“But now, this is what the Lord says, ‘he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’”
Henry’s thought-provoking topic sparked a lot of discussion among the women. Bishop Lawrence also spoke to the assembly before joining them for a luncheon given in celebration of his and Allison’s time with the Diocese. In addition to thoughtful talks, the women were able to enjoy workshops, soaking prayer, moving worship led by Chelsea Hamshaw, and time spent walking around the beautiful, serene grounds of St. Christopher.
Dana Henry is a licensed professional counselor in the state of Pennsylvania, in private practice (Hope Christian Counseling), with over 18 years of experience specializing in work with individuals, couples, and families. In her talks, she repeatedly emphasized that each of us is possessed by the LORD of Lords. He dwells within us and will be in us. The “Holy Spirit is also working the Word in us,” making our bodies a “beautiful container” for the Holy Spirit living within us. Thus, the key verse is all about us giving glory to God and Him receiving it from us. We continue to find ourselves in Him within the Word.
These ideas transitioned smoothly into the Bishop’s talk about the importance of the Word, in his last address to the women. Drawing from 2 Timothy 3, he developed several points. The first is how important it is for us to minister to others, especially children, as Timothy’s mother and grandmother did when raising him. In addition, the Word is breathed out by God, making it a sacred Word; it is a Word that lights our way; and it is a sufficient Word, providing everything we need for salvation. Verse 16, in particular, reflects how the Word speaks to the conscience for teaching, reproof, correction, and “training in righteousness.” As the Bishop concluded, “It is a supreme Word.”
In addition to stimulating talks, other offerings were available. One workshop introduced the spiritual discipline of “practicing the presence of God,” as described by Brother Lawrence, which led into a demonstration of centering prayer. Henry had incorporated “breath prayer” into her talk, which was another smooth transition, as centering prayer can begin with breath prayer. The session concluded with a demonstration of how to use the “prayer of imagination” developed by Ignatius. Shirley Wiggins, of Church of the Redeemer in Pineville, said she “likes when the Holy Spirit shows up, and really liked it when the session leader was moved by Him during the workshop.”
The second workshop was a craft in which women created ornaments to take home. Scripture was mounted on wood plaques using decoupage and then decorated. These could, ultimately, become inspirational tools as well as decoration, since the scriptures used were drawn from those studied within the weekend’s talks.
For those eager to get outside, the women were invited to participate in a nature walk around St. Christopher. Pat Roth of The Church of the Cross, Bluffton, said she learned a lot about the ecology of the area during the two-mile walk. “The tour guide was exceptionally good,” she said. “And the information she provided was as valuable as that received from the talks.”
Henrietta Rivers, the Anglican Women’s Spiritual Life leader, guided women in a period of soaking prayer. Karen Stine, of St. Luke’s in Hilton Head, experienced soaking prayer for the first time and enjoyed the experience of prayer and meditation. Connie Rathman, also of St. Luke’s, said the soaking prayer session was a “special time” for her.
Many of the women felt, as Wiggins did, that “everything gelled between songs, scripture, and messages.” Cathy Jacobs, of St. Paul’s Anglican, Summerville, was “thrilled to come out to such a sacred place.” She felt Chelsea’s music and soaking prayer ministered to her the most. Reed Evans, of St. Helena’s, Beaufort, enjoyed meeting new people and felt “everything went together: messages, music, the Bishop.” It was her first time attending the retreat without other members of her church, so she met people she wouldn’t have met normally. “It was a nice experience to meet others,” she said. Kim Martier, also of St. Paul’s Anglican, “enjoyed the ‘vibe’ of all the ladies and the spiritually moving music.” Her biggest takeaway was the centering prayer. There was something for everyone, and, as Jacobs said, “it was a beautiful weekend!”
By Dawn Schaeperkoetter, St. Paul’s Anglican, Summerville