October’s weekend retreat was entitled Coming Out People. It was led by Barbara Glasson, who is a Methodist Minister heading a community project called Touchstone, in Bradford. She has much experience working alongside small communities on the edge of conventional church and encourages lgbt people in their faith.
On the Friday evening, people arrived at different times from various areas of the country. Each settled into their room and then made their way to evening meal. The chatting and the banter started and continued throughout the meal. Enjoying fellowship over good food always features greatly on the retreat weekends.
Saturday’s sessions with Barbara were relaxing and informal. They involved creating a crude triangular frame from rolled paper and weaving a design in the middle from odd strips of material, yes, it does sound bizarre. During the creation of our “artwork”, Barbara asked us to choose three different people and individually tell them about the instances or situations in our lives that have helped to form us. We then paired up and talked about what we depend on to get through difficult situations.
Lastly in groups of three, we chatted about the networks we have in our lives. The weaving facilitated the flow of conversations and helped create a distraction to prevent any awkward silences. This was a simple but effective way of creating a comfortable environment for people to open up.
On Sunday, there was a church service followed by a feedback session, which was positive as everyone had enjoyed the weekend. In fact, EF would warmly welcome other lgbt Christians to come and enjoy these special times of fellowship.