MRE Fall Intensive
Submitted by Graham McMahon
The intensive in Durham, North Carolina proved to be a formative and rich experience for me. Richard Beck’s teaching on purity psychology was excellent, especially in relationship to our understandings of hospitality. We learned all of the ways we can psychologically exclude those different than us so that we can then learn to include them. Richard taught us about “The Little Way” of Saint Therese of Lisieux which provided us with a set of practices to help us learn how to welcome the other, the person or stranger who is different than us. In this way, not only did we think critically about the psychology that often unconsciously keeps us from welcoming the other, but we also learned how to overcome this by adopting simple practices that help us welcome the other.
Our time with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove was also a transformative experience. Jonathan challenged us to see hospitality from a place of justice, reconciliation, and the overcoming of oppression and racism. He also taught us the importance of intentional community, a rule of life, a communal approach, and the significance of place when it comes to the practice of hospitality. Jonathan teaches from a place of abundant and varied experience; he is a true practitioner. He toured us through his neighbourhood, welcomed us to his African American church’s worship service, and invited us to join his monastic community in morning prayers, all of which were highlights of our time with him.
In our final two days together, Mark Love provided us with a deep theological foundation for the practice of hospitality. He challenged us to imagine our liturgical practices and worship gatherings as experiences of hospitality and to find new ways of making room for the other outside of our Sunday gatherings. As with all of our intensives with the MREML program, there was ample time to discuss as a cohort all that we were learning and to begin to envision together how what we were learning would translate into our immediate ministry back home. As I stepped back into life with our church in Chilliwack, I was immediately able to begin implementing what we had gleaned together through the Durham intensive, and we are already seeing the fruit of transformation as a result.
The intensive in Durham has proven to be one of the most practical and transformative intensives to date and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn at the feet of wise experienced people together with my fellow ministry partners from my cohort. This is truly one of the most effective ways to learn and grow as leaders and has proven to be a catalyst for healthy growth and change in our local church community.