Shrine Mont weekend, 30 years of retreats


“I will give you peace and quietness.” ~ I Chronicles 16:11

2016 is the 30th year of Shrine Mont retreats for the church. The first was May 15-17, 1987 organized by then Curate Judy Fleming. Reservations were made for 30 people. In 2016, the number had risen sharply to 218 people .  The Parish newsletter for the first retreat said it well- “In order to make this a successful time a great deal of planning is required. ”  In 2016, we have Jan Meredith  and Tom Meredith and their committee to thank for organizing people, activities and finances in a single mix. Until 2008, it was scheduled for April or May of each year and then in 2008 shifted to October.

Shrine Mont weekend is like a congregation within a congregation. 218 in 2016 represents half of our typical Sunday attendance. It is greater than the average church attendance in the Diocese – 133 (2013 average Sunday attendance). If it were a separate church it rank as the 28th largest church in the Diocese of Virginia (2013 attendance) which is comprised of 181 churches.

Programs and other facts over the last 10 years.


2007 – “Growing into Christian Community” “The program for this year was centered on the theme, “Growing into Christian Community.” The program director is The Rev. Bruce Stewart. Bruce is an experienced retreat leader and is the Director of the Center for Liturgy and the Arts. Bruce helps groups explore through the arts and worship what God can do through us when we share the gifts we have.”

2008 – “We are One”. 96 attended.

2009 – “Kickin’ Back with Creation”. The Vestry minutes noted 173 signed up and 157 went.

2010  – “Relax Renew Recyle. 160 in attendance. “This year’s presenter was Vigen Guroian, Armenian theologian and UVA faculty member. He experiences Easter as “a call to our senses.” A call that is at once mystical and deeply spiritual.”

2011   – All Things Bright and Beautiful –  Drum Circles with Ken Crampton. 159 in attendance.

“This year Ken Crampton, artist, facilitator, Event Designer and teacher (from Fredericksburg) who has over 20 years experience in Building Community through the Rhythm and Arts came to Shrine Mont and shared his talents and drums with us. We experienced drum circles.   A community Drum Circle is a place for individuals to express themselves through the use of drums and percussion instruments.”

2012  – “Purple Mountain Majesties” – Author Lauren Winner with her book  Mudhouse Sabbath led the adults. 153 in attendance.

2013   – “Unwrapping our gifts”  The Rev. Ruth Everhart ‐‐ writer, pastor, coffee drinker,  pilgrim ‐‐ led the  adults in a conversation about Pilgrimage. 182 in attendance.

2014  – “Mindfullness in the Mountains – Be Still and Know”  Deepen you christian experience through the practice of hatha yoga (exercises and breathing), mindfulness, meditation, and prayer.  152 in attendance.

2015  – “Finding Grace in Unexpected Places, not all who wander are lost.” 182 in attendance.  “This year, we will explore ways our fellow parishioners have discovered Grace in everyday life, through Bee Keeping to Centering Prayer, from Praying in Color to Clowning. Our keynote speaker, Sandy Miller, will share how she has found God in poetry, and help us explore this pathway to Grace. There was ample chances to try your hand at something new and open new streams that just may GRACE your weekend. We will provide opportunities for art, fly fishing, nature walks, yarn work, journaling, puzzles, and beading, just to name a few”

2016 – “Go Tell It on the Mountain”. 218 signed up. 

“We all love a good story, especially when it is about us!  As children, we beg our parents to tell us about “the time when…” and every time we hear the story, it is like we are hearing it for the first time.  Somewhere along the way to adulthood, we lose our touch for good story telling, getting lost in the busy-ness of the days and other more pressing needs.  As we gather for our annual parish retreat in the beautiful mountains of Orkney Springs at Shrine Mont, we will spend some time with that magical gift of storytelling as we revisit our story as Christians, as Episcopalians, as people in the world, and how we tell that story “on the mountain and everywhere!”  Our guest speaker will be Dr. Chris Rollston, (whom we all have grown to love at our adult forums) who will help us connect with the biblical roots of our story.  The weekend will offer many opportunities to reflect on our own stories, and how we can share them with those around us to help piece together the beautiful patchwork quilt of a beloved community.”    


The Best of Shrine Mont (from 2010):

 meeting new friends and enjoying old

 hiking the mountain

 eating fried chicken and chocolate chip cookies

 drinking wine on the porch in the evening

 worshiping together at the Cathedral Shrine

 listening to guitars, banjos, and mandolins

 watching children run around without a care in the


The Worst:

 arriving too late for Friday dinner

 spending way too much money in the bookstore

 dealing with all that Orkney Springs traffic

 coping with sore muscles from hiking North Mountain

 deciding what to do with all those newts

 leaving….