Thirty-seven members of Methow Episcopal spent Memorial Day weekend at Holden Village, the Lutheran retreat center in the mountains west of Lake Chelan. The group members, ages 3 to 80-something, “ate together, hiked together, created art together, played, and simply relaxed — as one can when disconnected from devices and distractions,” says Methow Episcopal member Beth Anderson. “New relationships were formed and existing bonds were strengthened by our shared experience.”
The trip was part of Methow Episcopal’s concerted effort to “help our fellowship build and sustain intergenerational relationships, and support our youth,” Beth says. The Holden Village trip was a “centerpiece” to this effort, Beth says, but other projects are underway, such as hosting a series of dinners for the elders and caregivers at Jamie’s Place.
The trip and the other fellowship-strengthening work is supported in part by a grant recently awarded to Methow Episcopal by the Baptized for Life initiative, which is coordinated by the Virginia Theological Seminary with financial support from Lilly Endowment Inc. Founded in 1937 for the “promotion and support of religious, educational or charitable purposes,” the endowment has sought to “nurture the human spirit, intellect and character.” In the words of Eli Lilly, the endowment aims to “help improve the character of the American people.”
The Baptized for Life initiative helps faith communities provide more opportunities for people to live “lives of meaning and purpose,” Beth says.
Methow Episcopal is a lay-led church, meaning they have no official minister, but through the diocese that they’re loosely affiliated with in Spokane, Methow Episcopal was encouraged to apply for the $25,000 Baptized for Life grant.
First, the church formed a steering committee to think specifically about how such a grant could benefit their fellowship. Beth, who is the committee chair, collaborated with other members (Michael Brady, Dianne Honsinger and Peter Polson) to create a survey for Methow Episcopal members, asking for their input on what the strengths of the fellowship were and what they needed most. The survey results gave them a clear answer: intergenerational relationships and youth support. So they applied for, and were awarded, the grant.
When discussing how to use the grant, a retreat at Holden Village came to mind immediately, says Beth, who was raised in the Lutheran faith in Minnesota and who volunteered at Holden Village after college. “They’re really open to all sorts of faith commitments as well as others seeking a retreat experience. And it’s a wonderful place to go with other people, because with no cell phones or Wi-Fi, you really connect with others.”
For the upcoming Jamie’s Place dinners, Methow Episcopal members plan to cook the meals and eat them with the residents, creating opportunities to connect not just within Methow Episcopal through the events, but also to serve and interact with local elders.