Thursday evening arrived at the Elim Conference Centre, nestled in the heart of the Malvern Hills. Reason being there to help a friend teach Focusing-oriented therapy Friday to Sunday, inclusive. This was part of the ACC (Association of Christian Counsellors) Summer School 2014.
I was there supporting John Threadgold. The teaching went well. Great feedback was received at the end of the course. As it was a Christian environment I was a little concerned about my being as a Latter-day Saint. The organisers knew and were happy with that, with the proviso that I did not use the opportunity to “proselyte” in any way. Such a stance is only to be expected, a request though not necessary for myself, as there is nor would be a feeling to do so, as a counsellor it would be unethical to use any similar environment to do so.
The course had six people on (five women and one man, consisting of one married couple) from various parts of the UK.
So we come to Saturday evening, following two days of intense teaching and experiential work, it was thought a “cheese and wine” evening to relax a bit would be in order. I turned up with John (a Quaker), having brought some fruit juice. The question inevitably came: “What Church do you go to?” My answer “The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons.” Greeted by a “Wow” – a friendly wow, not an offensive one. Then went on to have some great conversations with the man, who was a minister. I’m not quite sure if he was once a lay minister or a full time one, but he now working in “regular” employment. Unlike past times, this was a very welcoming experiencing. So much so the next day, Sunday, attended the worship service, held after breakfast. Having planned to go from arriving, the evening experience cemented that decision.
It was great. After a brief introduction, followed by a prayer, we started singing, being led by a guitar playing man, with all the words displayed on an overhead projector. Not just the one opening hymn, we would usually have in an LDS Sacrament service, but three. The meeting was then open for anyone to pray out loud. I suppose this would be similar to sharing of testimonies on a Fast sunday, though not for so long. Communion was then available. Four people (two women, two men) stood at the four corners of the room to distribute it. This was said to be a practical solution, rather than the usual passing it down the rows, was due to the type of room the meeting was held in. Bread was broken from a loaf in front of those who approached them, which included myself. And before anyone goes off about this bring disrespectful, I was invited to do so. After communion, further singing, a wonderful 20 minute sermon based around Peter walking on the water. Interesting comparison to most talks in an LDS Sacrament meeting, the only quotes were from the scriptures, whereas additionally we would usually throw in one or two quotes of the Brethren. The meeting was concluded with more singing, then a prayer. An hour in total. Wonderful. Anything to learn? I think the simplicity was wonderful.
“If it irritates you, perhaps you might prayerfully ask the Holy Spirit to show you why”