Sunday 23 March 2008

Erika Has Had Enough

Erika Baker wishes to appeal for practical advice towards setting up a broadly Christian retreat for rejects, misfits and those who can’t find peace anywhere else. She is an Anglican but these days Anglicanism seems to be projecting itself at the expense of some minorities, particularly the lesbian and gay. So she wants to set up a place in England where people can go for a weekend or a week and be themselves, pray if they want, and maybe have some spiritual guidance and direction.

She has run largish projects before, but not in the area of religious retreats. It might happen in a partially used holiday home or somewhere like that. She would need good advice about finance, tax, legal status, insurance requirements, advertising, and other practicalities.

My own response was to point to the efforts at Orkney at the Haughland House Retreat Centre Shapinsay, Orkney Isles. The person who has done all the work is Lesley McKeown who, living on Orkney, and not seeing other obvious Unitarians (with the nearest Unitarian chapel to attend at Aberdeen), decided to bring Unitarians to her. She did this with a retreat centre including a small chapel (which, with a window like that - illustrated from the website, is quite contemplative). It opened in 2006.

Something related to this might work, though the kinds of misfits each attracts may not be the same - it all depends what events are put on and what ethos is established. Lesley McKeown converted farm buildings for her project, which might loosely be called 'religious tourism'.

A much bigger version for retreats and activities is the Nightingale Centre in Derbyshire. There is a chapel across the road.

Contact Erika via erika at blagdonlake dot demon dot co dot uk or by leaving messages via comments.

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