Continuing Education in Ministry retreat in Cumbria

Tuesday April 22nd 2008

The group which travelled to Cumbria for the CEM retreat.A personal account by the Rev Ken Houston

The recently ordained clergy of Connor, along with Bishop Alan, Archdeacons Three and the CEM delivery team have just returned from their retreat in Rydal Hall, Cumbria. Rydal Hall is the conference centre and retreat house of the Diocese of Carlisle and is set in the English Lake District between Ambleside and Grasmere.

This is a most beautiful setting for a retreat, away from everyday parish activities, with time for rest and relaxation. The accommodation and the food were of a high standard, and the Hall staff were most welcoming.

Hillwalkers all set for a hike.The Connor people joined with the Rydal Hall community and other guests for morning and evening prayers, while Bishop Alan and Canon John Mann celebrated Holy Communion for us each morning in the Hall chapel.

The Rev Moreen Hutchinson led our Bible studies in two seminars on Proverbs and Philippians, while Bishop David Chillingworth of St Andrews shared his thoughts with us in four seminars on “things they never told me at college that I would have liked to have learnt”. These included “connecting the interior journey of prayer with the exterior life of the church”, “dealing with church decline and growth”, “discerning the real causes of anger in angry people” and “dealing with conflict”.

Members of the Connor group taking part in a seminar.For relaxation, some people went for long walks around the lakes or up and down high mountains. Others visited famous local landmarks such as Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage and Beatrice Potter’s Hill Top Cottage, learning to their horror that the movie was not filmed there. Some sketched or photographed the beautiful scenery. Bishop David went cycling.

There was also the footie! While Bishop Alan was delighted that his beloved Manchester United won their match against Roma, it was really a rather boring match compared with the excitement of Liverpool versus Arsenal the previous evening.

Scaling new heights amidst Cumbria's beautiful scenery.Apart from a horrendous hail storm while folk travelled down the M6, the weather was kind but cold. Frosty mornings were complemented by sunny afternoons, and the night skies were ablaze with myriads of stars. The ferry crossings from Larne to Cairnryan and back were smooth and there are no reports of seasickness.

A retreat is especially a time for cementing friendships with one another and with God, and this was certainly achieved during this special time.

Photographs by Archdeacon Stephen Forde and the Rev Ken Houston. Further pictures can be viewed at


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