Four members of Nativity’s Altar Guild traveled to Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina, June 2-5 for the Province IV Altar Guild Retreat.
Dianne Walters, Lynda Salisbury, Barbara Wheelless and David Deal represented Nativity. Dianne is also president of the National Altar Guild.
The event was open to all altar guild members in Province IV of the Episcopal Church.
The retreat began Sunday evening with a meet and greet, and an opening Eucharist. Each subsequent day began with Morning Prayer in the Lakeside Chapel or the St. Francis Chapel at Kanuga.
There were workshops, round-table discussions, and a field trip to All Souls Cathedral in Biltmore Village. On Tuesday evening, there was a Eucharist and a Blessing of the Hands.
“Blessing of the Hands is a part of the closing Eucharist,” said Dianne. “It celebrates and blesses the commitment each of us makes to our ministry of caring for the Holy things in our parishes. Each attendee has their hands blessed with chrism oil. It is very moving and personal for each person.”
This is an annual event, and next year’s is already scheduled for May 31-June 3, 2020, again at Kanuga.
This was the first retreat for Lynda and Barbara.
“I did not really know what to expect since Nativity is the only altar guild I have been involved with,” said Lynda, “so I was curious about other church altar guild practices.”
Barbara said she attended because she “Wanted to learn more about altar guild and get new ideas.”
“I learned about who different Episcopal churches to things,” she added.
All the attendees said they would recommend the retreat to other altar guild members, and said it brought them closer to God.
“It was a great experience and then with the quiet and calmness, I felt so close to God,” said Barbara. I would attend again and would recommend to others members of altar guild.”
Lynda echoed that sentiment saying, “I would definitely attend again, and urge other altar guild members to attend. It was a wonderful experience for me.”
Dianne has been attending the retreats for several years.
“I love re-establishing and catching up with longtime friends,” she said, “and the workshops are always informative. The Blessing of the Hands is always a touching moment.”
“This yearly retreat is always fuel for my soul! It is fun and a great learning experience. It is open to all altar guild members and we each bring new ideas to share,” she concluded.