We would like to express deep gratitude to those who were able to join us in honouring the Benedictine Sisters in July. The sweet garden party that followed, made space for lovely connections and reconnections. Without the Sisters’ years of leadership, dedication and devotion (from 1987-2015), Bethlehem would not be the sacred multi-faith Centre it is today.
We hope to welcome many more of you soon, as we have a full summer and autumn program lineup to choose from. Whether you are looking for music, poetry or spiritual growth, consider doing yourself a kindness and join us here at the Centre where we invite you to embark on a transformative journey of exploration, inclusivity and peace.
Judith Remaliah, a Bethlehem Centre work-stay resident came to the Centre last spring and quickly saw an opportunity to create a space that would enhance the current food production for the Centre. She dedicated her time, energy, skill and through her donation, was integral to the arrival of the new greenhouse. Her generosity is enormously appreciated.
“We’ve always had the desire to enhance our green initiative and provide ‘garden to table’ for our guests. With more extreme weather events and the vulnerability of being located on an Island, it is important to be mindful of food security and sustainability.” says Executive Director, Donya Sutherland Baker
Many volunteers, staff and community partners have made the garden transformation and a new garden shed possible with their donations of supplies, time, and hard work.
“We were so blessed to have previously had gardener Lisa Munro who contributed her valuable time and really brought new life to the garden during a time of need. In the years ahead, we look forward to the nourishment that the garden will bring to the Centre,” says Donya
Using organic practices and a low carbon footprint, the garden will continue to supply fresh herbs, fruit and specifically targeted vegetables. These will then be transformed by the Centre’s talented chefs and food services team into nutrient-rich meals for guests. Please come by to see and taste the table to garden.
The Society full-heartedly welcomes Tim Stevenson as board chair and Logan McMenamie, as vice chair.
Tim notes contemplating many key life decisions on silent retreats at Bethlehem Centre over the past 30 years. For two years he and his husband Gary Paterson (Bethlehem’s program chair) have served on the board and remain committed to the long-term sustainability of the Centre.
Along with a great sense of humour, Tim brings a wealth of experience including his impact on equity and inclusion of the LGBTQ2+ community, government leadership and academia.
The first openly gay, ordained Canadian to be elected as MLA in British Columbia. He has led many social justice leadership projects and is currently a professor of religious studies at Langara College. (See Tim receiving the 2018 Outstanding Alumni Award).
BCS also welcomes Logan McMenamie as vice chair. Logan was the 13th Bishop of British Columbia in the Anglican Church of Canada and served as Dean of Columbia and Rector of Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria. Logan brings a breadth of board, community engagement, financial and organizational development experience, as well as a passion for truth and reconciliation.
Thanks to returning board members: Gerry Herkel, past chair, Ed Yewchin (Treasurer), Gary Paterson (Program Chair), Peter Gordon, Anne Sims, Catherine Woodward, and Jane Clelland for their continued service to the Centre’s purpose-driven work.
Thanks to those that were able to attend Bethlehem’s Winter Celebration and Open House. Over 40 people joined in storytelling, meditation, poetry, song and holiday cheer as we celebrated the coming of the light with Solstice.
With the New Year approaching, Bethlehem Centre Society board members reflect on the successes and challenges of 2022 (see Annual Report) and look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead for the Centre in 2023.
After nine years of service as board chair, Gerry Herkel will become past chair, offering his historical wisdom and mentorship to the incoming chair. The Society is extremely grateful to both Gerry and past vice chair, Peter Gordon for their steadfast commitment to the Centre’s mission over the years.
“I will ever be awed by the dedication and skill of those who journeyed with me! It will be a pleasure to continue on as Past Chair in 2023″.
~ Gerry Herkel
Spiritual Direction (or accompaniment) has been a fundamental expression of Bethlehem Centre’s service offering for years. Though the pandemic impacted this offering, the Centre is delighted to be revitalizing this much needed program. The spiritual accompaniment service is important as it supports and lends witness, through listening, to the individuals that come to the Centre to seek counsel as they “do their spiritual work”.
What is Spiritual accompaniment you may ask? The Pacific Jubilee Program describes it as a process of being with people on their spiritual journey, listening for what gives them meaning, and helping them grow closer to Divine Mystery, which goes by many names: God/ Love/ the Holy/ the Sacred/ Higher Power.
Later this fall, through our growing connection with the Pacific Jubilee, Bethlehem Centre will have an available roster of spiritual directors to accompany retreatants through the varying expression of their spiritual journey. Stay tuned for more details this fall.
Bethlehem is delighted to welcome back Faith and Sharing Vancouver Island this week for their 33rd annual retreat. With their “come as you are and be welcomed for who you are” approach, the retreat attracts participants from all walks of life who come together to share their stories and celebrate their lives together.
The Faith and Sharing way of life is based on the belief that each person, no matter how limited or gifted, has a unique and undeniable value. Offering a Christian ecumenical community that supports individuals striving for a richer life. It’s history starts in 1974, when Bishop Remi De Roo encouraged a group to start a Faith and Sharing group on Vancouver Island. The group has grown over the years and have been hosting their annual retreat at Bethlehem Centre since 1989.
“Through the pandemic, in our Faith and Sharing communities we have searched for new ways to connect and share together. Groups have prayed and shared on zoom. It’s not the same as usual, and we miss our retreats and days of prayer. But through our screens, I think we have shown our care for each other and encouraged each other in our belief in an ever present God.” says Claire Donovan, retreat coordinator.
The 2021 Retreat, themed The Beatitudes: a call to a new consciousness, was facilitated by animator, Doreen Kostynuik, who held space for a rich offering of music, worship, prayer, sharing faith, reflective silence, nourishment, joy and laughter.
“We are grateful to be back together in this sacred space sharing once again”, says Claire, “we look forward to our continued connection with the community throughout the year to come”.
To learn more about bringing your group to Bethlehem Centre
call us 250-754-3254.