LGBTQ PROGRAMS

 

Below is a catalogue of retreats and workshops available from the Mission Bridge. Each can be customized to meet your unique needs.  If a program you are searching for is not listed, contact Gordon Creamer at the Mission Bridge to discuss creating the program you desire.  Any retreat can be transformed into a workshop format or modified to include a shorter or longer program.

 

​​Wearing & Shedding Our Masks: The Art of Authentic Living

Living the spiritual journey requires us to name and celebrate our authentic selves. Yet, as human beings and individuals who identify as LGBTQ, we wear many masks, both interiorly and on the exterior.  Many of us have endured layers of rejection that are buried under the surface, while still hungering to share our personal gifts and hopes with the world.  How can these masks enlighten and empower us to become more fully alive? 

 

In every season, we are emboldened to shed the masks that do not serve our highest good.   We are also called to embrace the genuine, loved person we are designed to be.  Participants on this retreat will learn about the history of wearing masks and, through prayer, dialogue and mask-making, be able to further understand how these activities positively affect one’s spiritual journey and ongoing development.

Exploring the Masks We Wear: The Art of Authentic CHRISTIAN Living

Our spiritual journey with God requires us to name and celebrate our authentic selves. Yet, as human beings we wear many masks within our relationships, roles and everyday routines. How can these masks enlighten us to become more fully alive? To empower us to share the Gospel in more personal, practical ways?...

 

As the Season unfolds, we are called to go inward and embrace opportunities for self-exploration. During the course of the program, participants will learn about the history of wearing masks while engaging in prayer and dialogue.  A unique focus will include consideration of Jesus' authenticity in the Scriptures from a Christian faith perspective.  Participants will also be encouraged to create their own masks to further understand their spiritual journey and ongoing development.  Please bring a journal for use during the program. 

Encountering God in Nature

"The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature." ~ Anne Frank

The chaos of our routines and the pressures weighing upon us from daily living often narrow our experience of God. We can easily forget the endless ways in which God seeks to dwell in us and that the Divine Presence is always with us. Venturing out into nature grants us an immediate reawakening to this Truth. Join us for a retreat into the beauty and simplicity of nature that allows one to return spiritually to a centered, renewed place. Incorporating the use of human senses, meditative exercises and writing techniques, participants will have the opportunity to encounter God in nature while gaining a refreshed perspective on their priorities, their relevance and what is worth cherishing.

 

*This retreat is ideal for an outdoor landscape in Spring, Summer or Autumn and should include an additional indoor space for some of the program's contents. If a group is interested in scheduling this retreat, but no outdoor space is available, further provisions can be made through the Mission Bridge to secure an environment in which the program can be facilitated. A Winter version of Encountering God In Nature is also possible, with an indoor venue serving as the primary retreat space with abbreviated opportunities to engage outside.

Learning How to Pray

How do you pray? Are you curious about different ways of praying? This retreat examines various modes of traditional and contemporary prayer. A brief history of each style will be included coupled with an opportunity to experience it individually and/or with others. Centering, contemplative, lectio divina and chanting are some examples of prayer that will be explored.

Spiritual Awakenings for the New Year

Come celebrate the unfolding of the New Year with prayerful reflection and exploration of your spiritual journey. This program invites you to recognize the spiritual awakenings that are ever-awaiting your discovery and to return to basics by getting in touch with your heart’s deepest desires. Spend time alone and with other seekers dialoguing about your present and future pathways. Use of sacred scriptures, small groups and spiritual exercises will be included to name one another's current experiences and development of ongoing awareness.

What Color are You in the Rainbow?

While the rainbow has historically captured the unique vibrance and struggle of the LGBTQ community, it also celebrates the kaleidoscope of color within our own soul. It can speak volumes about our heart's deepest desires, our relationships and our greatest challenges in this life.

 

Join us for an engaging program, where creative exploration of these themes will unfold. Through prayer & meditation, group dialogue and exercises, participants will be able to connect to the colors of their story and name how those colors parallel the beauty and diverse experiences of living daily.

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​​The Gift of Being Called: Conspiring With God’s Voice

Join us for an enlightening retreat where your sense of being called in various ways will be explored, named and celebrated. What does it mean to be divinely called in our relationships, in our work, and even in the mundane tasks of our everyday lives? These themes among others will be addressed and savored throughout the program in personal and group settings. Creative and insightful spiritual exercises will be offered to deepen our sense of God’s desire to conspire with us endlessly. Please bring a journal. 

Your Journey as Parable: The Spirituality of Storytelling

Parables are brief tales that utilize normal occurrences to illustrate spiritual truths. Have you ever thought of the stories of your life as being a parable? As having the intended ability to reveal or teach you something after you have already lived through them? You are invited to join us for a program of reflection and creativity as we examine a sample of the rich, meaningful stories of your personal journey and intertwine them with some of the world’s greatest recorded parables. While participants will be engaged in facilitated exercises that recall memories via storytelling, their appreciation for various religious/cultural parables will be enhanced. This program will empower participants to name and celebrate their individual stories in a nuanced way. No prior experience in storytelling is required. 

​Uncovering the Blessings of the Long Goodbye: A Retreat Day for Caregivers

Spend the day being reaffirmed as a caregiver for someone with a long-term illness, including, but not limited to, dementia. Participants will be invited to engage in storytelling, prayer, meditation, and other exercises that validate the caregiver experience. This retreat will be tailored to uplift participants who may or may not provide hands-on care for their loved ones, but who are actively involved in their lives. Topics that will be explored are intrinsic to the caregiver journey, especially compassion, burn-out, self-care, and the various emotions that accompany the caregiver role. 

 

*Focused attention will be given to the emotions and issues that are uniquely apart of the LGBTQ experience of caregiving.

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Gracing Your Plates & Guests: A Spirituality of Cooking, Eating & Hospitality

This program is designed to expand the vision we have as humans of food - why we eat, how we prepare it and how it can be served.  With a focus on the spirituality that can underlie basic tasks such as cooking and eating, participants will be engaged in meditation, dialogue and actual hands-on activities surrounding a meal.  Attention will be given to the ingredients involved in creating cuisine, digestion and how to enhance the art of bodily nourishment. The virtue of hospitality infuses the program, overall, allowing participants to awaken to the sacredness of enjoying and sharing food on a deeper level. A journal is a great companion for this experience.

*A kitchen or cooking facility is necessary to facilitate this program. It can be experienced as a day or weekend program.

The Sanctuary of New Beginnings: A New Years’ Retreat

As the year draws to a close and Winter begins to deepen, you are invited to embark upon a journey at a most magical time of year, a time when we prepare to enter the sanctuary of new beginnings. This New Year’s retreat creates a wonderful opportunity to silence the pervasive noise that ever surrounds us and to step away into a spiritual landscape of renewal and nourishment. This program invites you to make time to examine the meaning of your experiences while cherishing the holiness of transitions. It will also include ample time for meditation, prayer and personal exploration. 

Dinner & Dialogue: Hallelujah Anyway & Anne Lamott

The Easter Season is a fertile time within our faith to not only renew our foundational beliefs but to authentically celebrate the healing mercy possible with God and within our human relationships. With this understanding, you are invited to join us for a delicious lunch and dialogue about Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, the acclaimed work of Anne Lamott. In this insightful text, she vividly explores how paramount and powerful mercy can be in our lives with the wisdom and humor she is known to offer readers. Lamott asserts that mercy is at the core of our spiritual identity and, when deliberately embraced, fosters understanding of others as we “soften ever so slightly.” Exploration of these themes will focus on how the reality of receiving and giving mercy can extend the Easter experience within our daily lives.

 

Opportunities for prayerful meditation and some creative exercises around the text will be integrated into our dialogue. Prior reading of the text is not mandatory but may prove beneficial. Please bring a journal for use throughout the program.

Strength to Love: an Anthem for Our Cosmos

Participate in this interactive dialogue about the writings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., particularly Strength to Love, whose compelling message is as necessary and timely today as it was during the height of the American Civil Rights Movement.

During this program, participants will be invited to engage in personal reflection and spiritual exercises regarding this text and how it resonates with their beliefs, global vision of humanity and understanding of compassionate justice.  A particular focus will include how this poignant work is a hopeful heralding for what is needed to heal and unite us as citizens and spiritual beings.

Reading of Dr. King's work beforehand is not required, but may prove beneficial.

Jesus Meets Buddha Meets Muhammad

Join us for an evocative program that will consider three of the world’s prominent spiritual teachers and the religions created in their name. Emphasis will be placed on the sacred wisdom they each imparted through their respective life story and cultivation of authentic living.

From a diverse perspective, participants will be invited to explore the areas of intersection amongst Christian, Buddhist and Islamic tenets/rituals while also recognizing unique differences and nuances. Throughout this retreat, there will be opportunities to creatively experience these spiritual figures and connect with the truth they offer to modern seekers through prayer, meditation and journaling exercises. Lastly, participants will emerge from the program with a timely awareness about the gifts and relevance of what these three offer our world and the healing role they can serve in fostering peaceful collaboration amongst believers. A journal and comfortable shoes are great companions for this program.

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Reclaiming Advent: A Story of Holy Desire

The Season of Advent often becomes lost on us as Christians in the flurry of the holidays and all that demands our attention each December.

 

Join us for a time of retreat and reflection, an opportunity to reclaim Advent as the gift for which it is intended.  Through prayer, meditation and writing, participants will explore the

connection between desire as holy and the unique ways in which the Advent experience can nourish and deepen our celebration of Christmas. Dialogue and other spiritual exercises will creatively enhance the themes considered during the program. Please bring a journal for use throughout the program.

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A Spiritual Journey Into the Desert

The desert is the theater of the human struggle of searching for God.” ~ Jan Majernik

 

The spiritual life at varying times beckons us to the desert. To the place where all that originally held esteem or took credit is stripped away and laid bare. To the sanctuary within that demands simplicity, solitude and surrender.

Join us for an extended weekend (or modified version) in which we will explore the rich concepts of desert spirituality and its impactful message for us today as modern sojourners searching for God in all things. 

 

Throughout the weekend, participants will be engaged in prayer, meditation and other creative opportunities to explore desert-related themes and practices. Sacred Scripture, alongside the writings of the Desert Mothers; Fathers, Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton, will be integrated for consideration and application. In addition, the perspective of other faith traditions and spiritualities will be included to deepen understanding of the countless graces that are contained in the deserts of our lives. 

 

A journal and comfortable walking shoes will be great companions to bring along. Desert survival kits will be provided upon arrival.

Dinner & Dialogue: Encountering Jesus in His Hidden Years

Join us during Lent as we spend time reflecting on the hidden or unknown years of Jesus’ life and prayerfully discerning their relevance to our unique journey with Him. Much of what we know about our Lord in the Scriptures involves His birth, public ministry and Passion. But, our hearts and minds often wonder what experiences He shared in that formed Him during His adolescent, teenage and young adult years. 

 

Through meditation, dialogue and writing exercises, participants will connect with the graces available by imaginatively accompanying Jesus in these years not mentioned in the New Testament. A deepening of our faith and personal relationship with Jesus will be a focus for our

time spent together. A journal is a good companion for this program.

All Are Welcome at the Table

Our retreat today is focused on the theme of All Are Welcome At The Table of the Lord. Through prayer, meditation and various spiritual exercises, we will journey with this theme and its application to our experience of Christ in everyday living. There will be special consideration of Pope Francis and his wake up call to all Christians about the Gospel standard of mercy and compassion.

What Is Your Heart’s Desire?

Begin the Journey of the New Year with prayerful reflection and discernment of the direction in which you are headed. This program will allow you to get back to basics by getting in touch with your deepest desire, the call of your heart. Spend time alone and with other seekers dialoguing about your life and your future pathways. Use of Sacred Scriptures, small groups and spiritual exercises will be included to name one another's current experiences and development of ongoing awareness.

Spirituality of Music

Music has been an inspiration for prayer and worship long before and after King David composed the Old Testament Psalms.  More than any other medium, music has engendered meaning for the human journey.  Over the course of three sessions together, participants are invited to experience and reflect upon the connections between music and the sacred, all the while savoring the ways in which music enhances and elevates the spiritual journey.  Within each session, there is a brief survey of musical genres coupled with a variety of exercises that examine their spiritual impact.  Series includes: 

 

Session One: From Sound to Chant
Session Two: Classical Hims & Hymns
Session Three: Modern & Meaningful

 

These themes can be rewoven into a solitary retreat or workshop instead of a series of multiple programs.

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​The Gift of Animals: Our Spiritual Companions

Throughout Mother Earth, we are given many blessings to cherish, protect and preserve. And, without a doubt, the diversity of animals that inhabits our planet provides us with an abundance of joy, intrigue and beauty. During this retreat, participants will be invited to reflect upon the gift that God has bestowed us with through animals and to explore the reality of the spiritual companionship we share with them. The day will center around the celebrated relationship we have with a variety of animals, particularly those we call pets. Those attending are encouraged to bring in images of their pets and/or favorite creatures for group appreciation. There will be opportunities throughout the day for prayer, dialogue and personal exploration time.

Seizing the Day: Discovering God Through Your Senses

How aware are you of God’s constant companionship? Are you able to experience the Divine in your everyday surroundings? This program invites you to prayerfully encounter God’s Presence while using your senses. Join us in discovering God anew through our abilities to see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

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The Prodigal’s Life: The Journey of Coming Home

In this retreat, we will explore how the transition back to one’s perceived home can be eased and made more comfortable despite inherent obstacles. The Gospel story of the Prodigal Son and other related texts will form the cornerstone of the day as participants contemplate the relevance of this story to their respective journey. Themes of reconciliation, relocation and integration will be explored as participants engage in opportunities of prayerful meditation, discussion and other modes of self expression as individuals and as a group. A reading of Henri Nouwen’s text, The Return of The Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming (1992), is encouraged but not a prerequisite.

Aging with Grace Retreat

"You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt. As young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear. As young as your hope, as old as your despair." (Douglas MacArthur)

Need a weekend away to regroup and recharge? Come and join us for an opportunity to name your experience as a spiritual being on the human journey. Our time together will focus on celebrating the meaningfulness of the aging process and the presence of God throughout it, emphasizing its uniqueness and universality. Through a variety of exercises, meditations and group dialogue, the themes that accompany aging at any stage will be explored for deeper appreciation. Opportunities to consider a positive and integrated approach to aging form the core of this retreat as participants will be able to bless each of their senses and engage in reaffirming moments, both individually and collectively. There will also be ample time for solitude and personal exploration of each topic. Please bring a journal for the weekend and a memento that symbolizes where you currently are in the aging process. (Please Note: This retreat can be reformatted for a one-day program or multiple, abbreviated sessions around relevant themes.)

Empowering Your Wounded Healer

Suffering manifests itself in diverse ways in each of our lives. Unique though to our human experience is how we understand the role of suffering and integrate it into our spiritual journey. This retreat provides participants with a valuable opportunity to name their respective struggle and to garner inner, personal strength for a greater purpose. A primary focus will be on suffering of Christ and other notable  teachers/historical figures and how their experiences are a foundational example of the emerging ‘Wounded Healer’ that we are each called to be.

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The Spirituality Behind Art: Exploring Art As A Spiritual Practice

Have you been searching for different ways to enhance your prayer life or spirituality?  Is so, then you are invited to join us for a day of inspiration and reflection as we consider the dynamic relationship between art and the spiritual life.  During this retreat, there will be ample opportunities to engage with visual works of art, participate in personal and group dialogue and explore the diverse ways in which prayer, meditation and spirituality are enriched by artistic creations.  Participants are encouraged to bring in a piece of art (or an image of), if possible, that holds special meaning for them for the purpose of group discussion.

Composing a Spiritual Life: Creating Your Own Spiritual Autobiography

Writing is a basic act of human self-expression and has been utilized in countless ways throughout history to capture the moments we are living in, chronicle the past with reflection and to prepare for the future before it arrives. It has also been important for those on the spiritual path to pause and contemplate their experiences by capturing them in written language. Join us for this enriching program, which will inspire participants to examine both milestone and ordinary experiences in their spiritual lives through writing about them. Various prompts and exercises will provide a creative context in which those present can record their experiences and ideas. Dialogue around written responses is

optional. A primary topic that will be considered includes relationship with God and others. Also explored is the world of work, wounds and losses and a sense of vocation and purpose, where the meaning of such experiences connects our spirituality to the other dimensions of our lives.

 

*This program can be offered for one or multiple sessions depending on the audience for which it is intended. It can guide individuals and groups from beginning to end with composing a spiritual autobiography, or it can serve as an introduction for participants to begin the writing process for their personal enrichment.

Reclaiming Advent: A Story of Holy Desire

The Season of Advent often becomes lost on us as Christians in the flurry of the holidays and all that demands our attention each December.

 

Enjoy a day of retreat and reflection, an opportunity to reclaim Advent as the gift for which it is intended. Through prayer, meditation and writing, participants will explore the connection between a desire as holy and the unique ways in which the Advent experience can nourish and deepen our celebration of Christmas. Dialogue and other spiritual exercises will creatively enhance the themes considered during the program.

 

Please bring a journal for use throughout the day.

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Ancient Myths & Wisdom for Modern Spiritual Sojourners Weekend Retreat (Optional Format for Modified 1 Day Program)

A myth... is a metaphor for a mystery beyond human comprehension. It is a comparison that helps us understand, by analogy, some aspect of our mysterious selves. A myth, in this way of thinking, is not an untruth but a way of reaching a profound truth.  ~ Christopher Vogler

 

The word myth is saturated with numerous, sometimes negative connotations in contemporary times.  Often, it is associated with being an untruth or fabricated statement.  Yet, this recent use of the word ignores the rich, timeless value for which myths were originally conceived.  Join us for an evocative weekend that will explore some of the world’s prominent mythologies in their original light and the wisdom cradled within them.  Examples will be gathered from the Greek, Celtic and Norse traditions amongst other cultures. Throughout this retreat, there will be abundant opportunities to creatively experience these myths and connect with the parallels they offer to modern spiritual seekers and their personal journeys.   Participants will emerge from the weekend with a timely and deepened awareness about the gifts and relevance of myths and the healing role they can serve in cultivating understanding and peace in the world. A journal is a great companion for this program as participants will be encouraged to compose their own personal mythologies.

A Ministry of Hospitality & Compassion: Supporting the LGBTQ Community Within Your Congregation

This program is both a retreat and a workshop, designed to provide ministers and lay leaders of Christian congregations an opportunity to pray, dialogue about their desire to authentically support and minister to the LGBTQ members within their faith communities. Throughout the day together, participants will engage in various exercises that foster a deepened awareness and sensitivity for the diversity of others and practical ways of reaching out to them. Scripture that reinforces and sustains compassionate care of LGBTQ individuals and their families will be utilized as a means of assisting participants in developing a language of inclusion and hospitality. The program will conclude with a collaborative prayer service that celebrates the mission of this retreat and workshop. 

Joining Jesus on the Way: Praying the Stations of the Cross in Modern Times

The tradition of praying the Stations of the Cross during Lent has been observed for countless centuries around the world. As a spiritual practice whose focus centers on the passion of Christ, participants are invited to contemplate the experience of Jesus as he made his way to his crucifixion at Calvary. 

 

Join us this Lent as we timely revisit such sacred mysteries in Jesus’ life and prayerfully encounter him on his passion journey. After lunch, we will engage in a nuanced version of the Stations as envisioned by spiritual author, Henri Nouwen. Herein, the focus unfolds around whom Christ would encounter in contemporary times on the Way of the Cross. Through meditation, dialogue and writing exercises, participants will connect with the graces available in accompanying Jesus in his vulnerability, suffering and eternal hope. A journal is a good companion for this program.

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Harnessing the Divine Within: Creating Personal Rituals in a New Era

The ancient activity of creating and enacting rituals has served spiritual beings on the human journey for millennia. In particular, rituals have enabled humanity to access their inherent, divine spark to cultivate hope and meaning in the midst of life’s sweeping changes and ongoing seasons and cycles. To that end, individuals and communities throughout history have been inspired to mark rites of passage with a concrete exercise to commemorate their experiences. Examples of this span the gamut of welcoming a new family member or pet and  becoming a caregiver to healing from trauma & losses and transitioning into a new job or home or from this life into death and beyond.

Join us for an opportunity to explore the value of rituals and incorporating them more noticeably into our spiritual journey as a cherished practice.  Through meditation, journaling and other spiritual exercises, participants will be empowered and guided to create a ritual of their choice to honor a recent or upcoming transition or to manifest healing and balance as they emerge from pandemic or personal grief.  Basic supplies will be provided and will include essential items for designing an individualized ritual that will be identified by each participant as the program unfolds. Please bring along a journal for use during the retreat.