Like most other things in 2020, the Shechem weekend had to be an online virtual event as we could not meet together. However, this did not stop an intrepid band of Shechemites from conquering the technology to come together from all corners of the country for much appreciated fellowship, fun, worship and learning. We are all grateful for the technology that enabled us to do so, to Sonia who was unanimously crowned Queen of Zoom for masterminding it, and to Roger for all his hard work bringing the weekend together.
Aside from our residential annual weekends (currently hosted by House of the Open Door), the community gathers together a few times a year for Regional Meetings to which all members, guests and those interested in our community life are invited. Activities usually include time to renew existing and make new friendships, share food and study on a particular topic or rule of life.
National days are a chance for the community to gather, usually on a Saturday to make it practicable for all regions to attend. Each gathering usually includes a time of worship, some input (often form an invited speaker) and breaking of bread. They also almost always involve food -- typically a shared lunch and then eating tea & cakes together!
Regional meetings are when we get together to simply enjoy time with each other, often with little more planned than a barbecue or fun on the beach. These are open to anyone. As Shechem members are located throughout the country, membership is currently spread into four regional groupings: London, Thames Valley, South West and South Coast. See if there is a regional meeting planned near you below.
Anticipating a great weekend, nearly 40 Shechemites gathered at the House of the Open Door retreat centre at Childswickham in the Cotswolds. We were not to be disappointed. HoD’s welcome and care of us was as always
abundant, the weather was exceptionally good for an August Bank Holiday weekend, and God richly blessed our time together. Our speaker, Will Bissett, challenged us to look with fresh eyes at a familiar verse of scripture - Jesus said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (John 14v6), some of the most powerful words in the Bible.
For me the weekend began with a long drive after moving house all day, followed by putting my tent up in the dark. At this point the idea of waking up in time for an 8.30 breakfast was not an attractive one, but as soon as I walked into the dinning room and saw the smiling faces of all those lovely Shechemites I was a happy man again.
I love intriguing titles, and seeing those of our speaker, Howard Page-Clark, set me thinking, maybe it's the same for you; “Abraham entertains three men” (Gen. 18:1-15), "Jesus has a different sort of lunch" (Jn 4:4-35), "The disciples prepare a supper, which Jesus hijacks" (Jn 13:1-15) and "Jesus cooks breakfast for the disciples" (Jn 21:2-19). All that talk of meals led me to share about saying grace, as a preparation for the main courses to come, at the Friday evening gathering.
Shechem this year was my first time back after graduating. Sadly, throughout my four gruelling years of study (okay, I admit it, Durham was actually an amazing experience), I had only been able to make it down to camp once, so returning was something I had been looking forward to for a while.
I am writing this at the second breakfast table at Sonia and Michael's house in Shropshire. Twenty one people slept here last night; some were in the house in beds, Mark and Tricia were in the 'garden room', Bob and Lesley were in their caravan on the car park area at the front of the house and the rest were spread between four tents.
As the May bank holiday rolled around we all made our way happily to the field for another Shechem weekend camp, which kicked off with the sight of Bob, dressed in a sheet, waving a feather duster around, in an illustration of the parable of the lost coin. It was good to be back.
A group of 18 hardy Shechemites braved the British summer for the annual visit to the seaside.
Thanks to the foresight of the Victorians in providing a shelter on the promenade, we were able to sit and eat our picnics without getting soggy sandwiches.
Fortunately, the rain stopped for a while and we de-camped to the beach.