We Will Gather With a Song

As submitted by Jane Dittrich

As submitted 29 September 2022
by Jane Dittrich, a Sorrento Centre Ambassador, originally published in the Diocese of New Westminster website

Gathering with a song in the outdoor chapel dedicated to St. Francis is how each morning beautifully and prayerfully starts during a summer program week at Sorrento Centre. This line, “We will gather with a song” is from the Rev. David Taylor’s song The Invitatory (We Will Celebrate) sung every morning during worship. The Rev. Taylor, Rector of St. Dunstan’s in Aldergrove once again served as worship leader for some of the course weeks during the summer of 2022. 

There were three courses during the week of July 17-23, the first was LEAP (Leadership, Experience and Adventure Program), a course for youth ages 15 and 16. LEAP fosters personal, spiritual and professional growth in leadership skills and work experience. Participants were involved in a variety of spiritual practices, along with engaging workshops and activities. One of the participants in LEAP this year was Maggie Cruickshank, granddaughter of the late Bishop Jim Cruickshank, Sorrento Centre’s founding Director. Long-time Sorrento Centre course leader Kathie MacDuff of Calgary led a course called Creative Journaling: Potpourri Play, and Karin Huehold (also of Calgary) led The Creative Watercolour Mandala. 

With COVID protocols lifted this year, the Centre was back to its regular bustling self, and for the first time in a couple of summers, free from forest fire smoke. On the first day, a group of people enjoyed reconnecting while playing croquet (enthusiastically organized by Mark and Nadja Hoath of St. Mary’s, Kerrisdale) on the main lawn prior to the evening Welcome and Orientation gathering with the Centre’s Executive Director, the Rev. Michael Shapcott. Following this gathering, a stunning rainbow lit up the skies above the Centre, aptly symbolizing hope, promise and new beginnings. 

The six summer youth staff led the sing-along at the Monday night beach campfire with hot chocolate and the construction of s’mores over the fire pit. Shuswap Lake had been exceptionally warm this summer, inspiring folks to enjoy an evening swim while taking in the stunning sunset. Thursday night’s talent night saw Kekuli, the Centre’s outdoor amphitheatre, absolutely full! Everyone came to enjoy the jokes, and songs performed by course participants, youth staff, and youngsters from the week’s children’s program. Lots of familiar faces to those in the diocese of New Westminster took part, including Ros Kellett and Neale Adams, ODNW, the Rev. David Taylor and his sons Nathan and Logan, and Phoebe McRae (Phoebe, formerly of Christ Church Cathedral Vancouver, now lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, the Rev. Martin Elfert, and their family). Friday late afternoon saw the customary closing worship service in St. Francis’ Chapel, with everyone gathering for Eucharist. This is when course leaders and participants offer highlights from their week together. It is also when Executive Director, the Rev. Michael Shapcott takes the opportunity to thank the leadership of the week, along with thanking the hardworking Centre staff and dedicated summer youth staff. Following worship, everyone enjoyed chatting over an outdoor dinner, prepared by long-time kitchen manager Karrie Tennent and her staff. 

Richardson Lodge is one of two accommodation lodges at Sorrento Centre. It was originally named Nova Vita (Latin for “new life”) and was later renamed after Lance Richardson. Lance was a member of the first winter course at Sorrento Centre in 1965, and not long after, he returned as the Centre’s first property manager. He, along with Jim and Sue Cruickshank and others, supervised the construction of the much beloved pan-abode structure. Halfway through this course week, news of Lance’s passing was relayed to Sorrento Centre. An evening prayer service of remembrance was assembled in quick order in his honour that evening..

The Centre’s gorgeous private beach is always a popular spot and is a special gathering place for people. Children, teenagers and adults alike love splashing around in Shuswap Lake, swimming out to the dock, playing on floaties, enjoying the sun and good times with friends and family. This year, returning guests Brice and Meaghan of Kamloops very generously took people out daily in their motorboat for rides, tubing and wake surfing. 

As always, the week was full of countless memories made for all. In the magical atmosphere of Sorrento Centre, strangers become friends, old friends get reacquainted as if no time has passed, and everyone young and old share experiences, laughs, outdoor adventures, spiritual awakenings, and memories to last a lifetime. The Centre remains the camp, holiday and retreat gem of the Anglican Church of Canada. Something for everyone, and as is often said of Sorrento Centre, “Once you go there once, you will go there forever!”

Read the full article, see all the photos, and rediscover what Jane shares about Sorrento Centre


(if you are interested in becoming a Sorrento ambassador in your parish or community, click here or sign up here)

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