Krista-Dawn Kimsey shares her perspective as a facilitator of our first ever Canadian Leaders Retreat at Living Waters Camp in Saskatchewan.
Group Photo of our wonderful staff and local leaders Fall 2022
We greeted each other with this phrase every session, accompanied by a group handshake we designed together. Nineteen staff and local leaders from our Saskatoon and Vancouver sites gathered for a weekend to learn from and with each other. Some had lots of history together, and some met for the first time. As the lead designer, I wanted the weekend to engage all of our senses to experience a little more of God's shalom: abundance, belonging, wholeness and peace. God's vision is that nothing is broken, and no one is missing. Leadership can be exhausting, full of hard decisions and weighty consequences. It is easy to lose our sense of being delighted in and the ability to delight in others.
A playful greeting and handshake is an opportunity for re-orientation to shalom. Hearing the words of affirmation, "I love the face of Christ I see in you," while noticing the colour of each person's eyeballs, becomes a moment of dignity. Moving our bodies in sync as we carried out the steps of our "secret handshake" was one small way our whole selves could sink into a deeper faith that we belong together.
"Shalom as a concept is new to me; I want to know more."
Throughout the weekend, we played a "game" to help focus our attention on glimpses of shalom and Jesus in our midst. Each person received a set of stickers. The object was to watch and listen for signs of shalom: anything building compassion, joy, affirmation, health, love, or peace within the group. The winners would be the first to give away all their stickers, catching thirty-three people "in the act" and affirming them.
At first, a flurry of affirmation buzzed around the lunch break. People really got into it! But there were too many stickers to give away all in the initial heat of the moment when it was on the top of our minds. It took hours of consistently remembering and focusing our attention on the loving work that others were doing to get through the stickers. People recognized others' vulnerable moments and risks taken in conversations. Expressions of gratitude flowed for people's strengths and skills that benefited the group. Offers of prayer and encouragement came quickly. At the end of the weekend, everyone's name tag had dozens of stickers. We rewarded the first two to finish giving away all 33 affirmations with rousing applause, yet another experience of shalom at work.
When we believe that God's intention for our cities and communities is that "no one is missing, and nothing is broken," we can dream big, inclusive, redemptive dreams. We imagined how all aspects of our lives- our culture, bodies, homes, apartment complexes, cities, laws, and land- could bring glory to God and help us become a kinship community of mutual love and respect. There was a lot of resonance within members of the Saskatoon team who longed to see justice come more fully in the Meadowgreen neighbourhood. We ended this rich time together in reflection and worship.
Denalda reflected on this from her time:
I enjoyed learning about leadership here with everyone, and I look forward to bringing it back to the drop-in and encouraging people in their growth and journey [...]. I've taken so much into my heart this weekend. I've been in different serving capacities in the past. Sometimes I get stagnant, and His love gently touches me and shows me what he has for me. I see the opportunity to grow with Him and others at the centre."
We extended communion to each other, the most equalizing and intimate expression of Jesus' desire to be with us wherever we go. Two local Indigenous local leaders and one SP staff member led us in indigenous contextual worship offered on hand drums. One of our newest staff, Kathleen, remarked, "It was the first time that I had experienced this way of worshiping. It gives me great hope to imagine a good way forward for reconciliation between settlers and indigenous expressions of faith in Jesus."
As we have scattered, would you join us in praying these blessings written for our time together? These are our hopes for living out our 6 values in all of our communities across Canada.
May we laugh together and find unexpected moments of joy in God's abundant goodness.
May we be astonished by the ways we reflect the face of Jesus.
May we find life in serving one another in our strengths and in our honest vulnerability.
May we learn new ways to follow the way of Jesus and be made more in His image.
May we be inspired to build a hopeful future of extravagant love.
May we find a new faith and conviction that God's Kingdom of Shalom is coming and will transform us, our communities and our cities for His glory.
We created a booklet for all our leaders to take with them to read for more inspiration on what we mean by community transformation. Check it out here!
Did you know that we would love to co-facilitate retreats for your team, board, non-profit or church? Check out our Learning and Collaboration Portfolio to get inspired with opportunities. Contact Krista-Dawn at Krista-Dawn.Kimsey@servantpartners.ca to begin a conversation!