DURHAM ANGLICAN CURSILLO BULLETIN - August 2021
Message from the Secretariat
Martin Luxon has had to step down as our Lay Director for personal reasons. We hope that this will be a temporary situation and that he will be able to resume his responsibilities early next year.
In the meantime the Secretariat has appointed Jeffrey Hewitt to cover for Martin as lay chair of the Secretariat.
Message from our Spiritual Director, Rev Dr Caroline Friswell
We were very blessed to have Bishop Sarah (Bishop of Jarrow) and Stephen Bowring (National Spiritual Director) at our AGM in June. For those of you who were unable to attend, Bishop Sarah based her short address on John 15: Jesus as the True Vine. I was particularly struck by an observation that she made that fruit is for the benefit of those who come to eat it. In other words, as Christians, we are here to serve those who are not part of the vine and to be a blessing to them. I know many of us are very active in our own local churches and that is how we are living out our Christian service. However, we have been called to bring light and life to those who do not yet know Jesus in order to spread the gospel and grow God’s kingdom. This can feel quite a challenge, especially if we don’t really know many non-Christians.
In the light of Bishop Sarah’s challenge to us, I think it would be a very good idea if, when we think about Piety, Study and Action we give prayerful thought to how we might be a blessing to people outside of our church communities. Some of you will already be doing this through, for example, volunteering at your local Foodbank or by coming alongside non-Christian friends and colleagues who are going through a difficult time. Perhaps the Lord will show you other ways in which you can actively be a blessing to others.
Going back to the image of the fruitful vine, it is worth asking ourselves: how fruitful are we really being as individuals and as Durham Cursillo and who is actually benefitting from that fruit?
News from the Secretariat
AGM – Saturday 26 June 10:00-12:00 via Zoom
It was good to see a number of people at the AGM and we had two very interesting and inspirational talks from Bishop Sarah and Stephen Bowring. British Anglican Cursillo Council is asking searching questions about the future of Cursillo and how we can learn lessons from the pandemic and move forward in the Spirit. The possibility of running shorter weekends and encouragement to invite potential Cursillistas to our Reunion Groups and Ultreyas are some of the strategies being introduced to help our movement to grow. There is also a feeling that we need to get away from the secrecy that has surrounded Cursillo weekends in the past. We know that part of the joy many have derived from their own weekend arose from the lovely surprises that occurred. However, this can lead to a kind of secrecy that many have found off-putting.
At the AGM Martin thanked two outgoing members of the Secretariat: Sally Henniker-Major and Robert Mathews. Both have made fantastic contributions to Durham Cursillo over many years and we are pleased that, although they are no longer on the Secretariat, they will continue to support us: Sally from Derbyshire and Robert from much closer to home.
The following Cursillistas were elected to the Secretariat:
Beth Gascoigne (formerly co-opted) – Secretary
Caroline Johnson – Fourth Day Rep
Bill Arkless – Pre-Weekend Rep
In addition the Rev Dr Caroline Friswell was commissioned by Bishop Sarah as Spiritual Director.
Because of Covid it was agreed that Martin Luxon, Lay Director and Caroline Friswell, as Spiritual Director, should serve four rather than three years from the time of their original appointment. Therefore, Martin will be Lay Director until 2023 and Caroline will be Spiritual Director until 2024
Victoria Button’s Reflections on the AGM talks
At our recent Durham AGM meeting Bishop Sarah led the group in a thought provoking insight into the scripture of John 15 and the gardener and what that means to us Cursillistas at this time.
In this scripture, in the heart of the message we are told to look at where we need to prune, to cut back, where we will bear fruit, this fruit is to feed others and so others may eat of it.
In going forward into a future shaped by our Lord and the gift of the Spirit, Bishop Sarah pointed out that the role of our spiritual director is to have spiritual eyes. To make choices on behalf of our community is complex and Caroline is being asked to bring wisdom in her serving – the desire of the Father through Jesus is through fruitful people – he chose us – we abide in him. Jesus is often mistaken for the gardener – it is the father who is the gardener – and He wants to bring Cursillo to full fruitfulness in Durham.
The National Spiritual Director Stephen Bowring also spoke at the AGM. He pointed towards the Luke scripture about building bigger barns (Luke 12:16-21). Stephen felt that the Anglican Church was very good at building bigger barns and sometimes this focus missed the bigger picture. He encouraged us to look at the 4 pillars of Anglican theology that we have: scripture, tradition, reason and revelation.
Stephen used these concepts to speak about applying this to the shorter 3 day weekend by reducing it to the absolute essentials - 15 talks and 5 meditations which equals 8.5 hours. In short, BACC recommends we all look at this in our different areas. We are being asked to please look in a prayerful way and accept that God is moving. Stephen felt that as followers of Christ we are not here to push Him into a box - we are a nomadic people on the move - the vine will be pruned – there are new ways and ideas to be looked at.
In conclusion Stephen warmly described Cursillo as a wonderful group. I find that Cursillo supports me in my own Christian pilgrimage.
Ultreya in Durham Cathedral, 10 September, 2021 at 7 pm
The Rev Stephen Bowring, our National Spiritual Director, is coming to speak to us. Those of you who attended the AGM and heard him speak will already know that he is well worth listening to. Cursillo, nationally, is going through a time of transition and DAC is no different. We know that Stephen will be a great encourager to us as we seek God’s will for the way forward. This Ultreya will include a more extended act of worship than used to happen at Ultreyas before Covid and it will be a real privilege for us to be able to do this in the beautiful setting of Durham Cathedral. This would be a particularly good opportunity to invite non Cursillistas to come along as a little taste of what we are about so do pray about whom you might invite. At the time of writing, the Cathedral is still requiring masks to be worn and social distancing to be observed.
Retreat at Shepherd’s Dene: 28-31 October, 2021
Our Spiritual Director, Caroline Friswell, will be leading this retreat entitled ‘Journey from Easter to Pentecost’ from 6 pm on Thursday, 28 October until 2 pm on Sunday 31 October. Caroline has run this retreat twice before and a number of you have experienced it for yourselves. Some of you have already shown an interest in joining it again on the basis that, even though the meditations and talks will be the same, there are always new things to be discovered. The cost of this retreat will be £215 per person (this is the charge made by Shepherd’s Dene). We would ask that you pay a deposit of £30 at the time of booking. If you would very much like to join the retreat but are unable to afford the full cost, please contact Jeffrey Hewitt, our Treasurer, as arrangements can be made in confidence for you to attend. (Other details can then be discussed in any potential phone call.) Numbers are restricted to 17 retreatants and so you are advised to get your application in as soon as possible. If you want more information about this retreat and a booking form, please contact Beth Gascoigne.
Next Cursillo Weekend: Cursillo #29, 23-25 September, 2022
Subject to Covid, we will be holding our next Cursillo weekend in 2022, from 23 to 25 September. Bishop Paul is already booked to preside at our closing service at St James’ Church, Riding Mill at 3 pm. We will be trialling a shortened weekend – from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. Other dioceses that have run these shorter weekends have found them just as authentic as the traditional weekend with the advantage that they attract younger participants.
At the BACC AGM recently we were encouraged to invite non-Cursillistas to our Reunion Groups. This was actually how Cursillo began. Small groups of Christians who had been getting together began to want some training and spiritual development. Thus Cursillos (short courses) were introduced. So, if you have any Christian friends or fellow church members whom you think might benefit from joining your Reunion Group then please feel free to invite them along and get them involved. If you are not currently a member of a Group Reunion and would like to join one, please contact Caroline Johnson.
News from our DAC community
Many of you will already be aware that Diane Barthel died on 5 June. She was a much loved member of the Durham Cursillo family and brought energy, enthusiasm, compassion and creativity to the movement, especially in our early years when Durham Cursillo was getting established. A number of Cursillistas attended her funeral at her church, St John’s Neville’s Cross, on 21 June and Caroline attended both as a friend and as a representative of Durham Cursillo. Indeed, part of Caroline’s letter to Diane’s husband, Paul, on behalf of Durham Cursillo, was read out at Diane’s funeral. We continue to pray for Paul and their daughters Kate, Emma and Jenny.
Members of the Secretariat
Rev Dr Caroline Friswell – Spiritual Director
Jeffrey Hewitt – Treasurer and Lay Chair
Beth Gascoigne – Secretary
Victoria Button – BAAC Rep'
Caroline Johnson – Fourth Day Rep'
Sandy Jackson – Weekend Rep'
Bill Arkless – Pre-Weekend Rep'
Janet Proud – Newcastle Diocesan Rep'