Generous Space Retreats prioritize community and connection with God, self, and others. It’s a time when we share our gifts with and serve one another. The theme for our 5th annual Ontario Generous Space Retreat is BOTH/AND. This refers to a way of non-dualistic thinking that embraces tension and paradox as the path towards transformation.
The retreat is BOTH renewing, encouraging, uplifting AND stretching, challenging, transforming.
We embrace BOTH our affinity (finding people like us) AND our difference (learning from those unlike us).
We cultivate BOTH a sense of home (familiar, comfortable, belonging) AND new experiences (adventurous, risk-taking, opportunity).
We are BOTH spiritually vibrant (incorporating worship, prayer, scripture) AND hospitable (to those who question, doubt, are triggered by religion).
We are BOTH lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer AND straight/cisgender allies, parents, and pastors.
We are BOTH traditional (whatever that means) AND progressive (whatever that means).
We are BOTH convicted AND curious… we are Generous Space!
Some might say BOTH/AND is simply too difficult, too much work, with too much potential for conflict. And we acknowledge that the path we’ve chosen to walk together is not for the faint of heart. In the midst of joy, there may be pain. In the midst of connecting, there may be confusion or frustration or discomfort. In the midst of unity, we will face our privilege at the intersections of gender, race, ability, and other minority experiences. As we enter our fifth year, with an increasing sense of identity and purpose, we know that being Beloved will sustain us in our pursuit of a rich and tangible experience of being true community. And so we invite you to join us in this adventure!
Who is welcome?
LGBTQ+ people, parents, pastors, allies – all are welcome, whether you’ve had prior involvement in our Generous Space community or not. We welcome all ages – we are excited to be providing childcare (up to age 3) during main sessions and workshops this year! Last year, we had over 100 participants from Ontario and as far away as Calgary, Saskatoon, Fredericton, Colorado and Texas… and we hope to have even more this year!
Where is it?
We’ll be returning to the YMCA Geneva Park Conference Centre in Orillia, ON, located on beautiful Lake Couchiching, about 1.5 hours north of Downtown Toronto. More information about carpooling and ride-sharing on the FAQ page.
Retreat participants will enjoy three nights in lovely shared rooms, complete with ensuite bathrooms. There will be delicious catered meals and snacks, and coffee, tea and hot chocolate will be available all day.
The retreat centre also offers a campfire pit, a spacious lounge with room to play board games late into the evening, a gymnasium, a games room (with ping pong, shuffleboard, air hockey, darts, and foosball), an exercise equipment room, tennis courts, and several walking/jogging trails through the forest and along the lake.
Participants from previous retreats said…
“When I heard about the retreat, I was only just beginning to come back to Christianity after a long period of anger and hurt. I didn’t yet know whether there was any substance left in the Church for me. I asked if there was space for a wonderer/wanderer like me, and of course the staff answered “yes.” I can’t say thank you enough for the people who made it possible for me to spend this weekend with such a beautiful branch of the Church, being reminded that God is drawing all life toward God’s self.”
“The most helpful thing for me was to just have the opportunity to be in a space with so many LGBTQ people and to know that I could be myself and feel loved and accepted. Slowly I’ve been unravelling the ways I have thought about myself and felt ashamed for my feelings and rebuilding my perceptions with love and gentleness. The retreat helped to affirm me in that process while breaking down walls and learning that it’s okay to be me.”
“I arrived at the retreat with the hope of learning more about this whole generous spaciousness posture as this was my first interaction with New Direction…but somewhere along the way I rediscovered a personal, engaged relationship with Jesus, developed deep relationships, learned both humility and pride, and rediscovered the Church alive and well amidst these my kin in the LGBTQ+ community. The weekend was beyond words – I’ll certainly be attending again next year.”
What else can I expect?
Community Groups… a chance to connect, dialogue, and journey with a small group of diverse people in facilitated times throughout the weekend.
Worship… we will have several worship leaders from different traditions leading us into God’s presence in creative and inspiring ways this year.
Main Sessions… we will explore the theme of BOTH/& with (brief) scriptural reflections, panel discussions, interviews, and times of communal input.
Workshops… we are excited to offer three workshop sessions during which you can learn from your peers on a variety of topics. Our workshop topics this year include:
- Diverse Perspectives on Same-Sex Marriage
- Gender Identity and Scripture
- Clarifying our Sexual Ethics
- Reconciliation in the Church
- Rest & Wrestling
- Inclusive Process for Churches
- Reading the Bible Intersectionally
- Faith & Mental Illness
- Creating Generous Narratives
- Art & Healing
- Practicing Diverse Forms of Prayer
- Including Disabled People in Church
- Being Friends of God
- Responding to Fear
- Racism, White Privilege & Allyship
- Family, Friendship, Intimacy & Celibacy
Open Mic Night… Spend an evening enjoying all the talents our community has to offer, and share your own artistic gifts!
Affinity Cafe and Affinity Tables… where you can eat meals and meet people with similar journeys, interests, or concerns as you.
Community Art Project… Brand new this year… stay tuned!
Yoga… Billy Gekas will be back with us, offering evening yoga nidra sessions for those who wish to participate.
Free time… for rest, processing, conversation, taking walks along the beautiful lakeside, or enjoying the games room and the gymnasium!
How much does it cost?
$350 CAD – Early bird (until Mar. 15th)
$380 CAD – Regular (Mar 15th – April 28)
Registration is all-inclusive. (shared lodging & 9 meals)
Can’t come all 4 days? Contact us to arrange partial registration.
Can’t afford it? We don’t want finances to be a barrier. We have limited scholarships for first-time attendees, as well as financial assistance for anyone who needs it – please fill out this form before Mar. 15th if you would like to apply for additional funding.
Please note the actual cost per person, including the rates set by the retreat centre:
$190 – shared room (3 nights)
$195 – 9 meals plus snacks
$50 – Generous Space program costs
$435 total cost per person
We are seeking donations from individuals and churches to underwrite $10,000+ to make registration fees more affordable for everyone to attend. If you have the means, please consider donating to the scholarship fund when you register.
Note: If you are from the U.S.A., and the Canadian dollar is still relatively low… consider the bargain you’ll get with the exchange rate!