Undivided: Reflections on Grassroots Organizing and the Church

While not completely sure of what or who to expect, I left my busy life in Vancouver on a Friday afternoon to meet with the rest of the participants in Horseshoe Bay for the first weekend of the Undivided program. The water taxi ride to Camp Fircom on Gambier Island was simply breathtaking amongst the snowcapped mountains and ocean waves. Even though the island is only 30 minutes away, there was something about getting on the boat and traveling to a forested island that made me feel as though I was going to a different world. Although most of the participants did not know each other, I was immediately struck with a sense of warmness and familiarity amongst the group. It felt as if everyone had arrived with a mutual understanding of respect and openness to learn more about the program, each other, and themselves.

Christina Kinch and Christine Boyle prepared a program that included a balance of contemplative practices, social change discussion, and exploration of power, privilege and identity. In addition to the delicious food prepared by the Camp Fircom staff, my favourite part of the weekend was spending time talking and listening to individuals about their passions and reasons for joining Undivided. While we all shared similar interests and perspectives, it seemed that each participant was drawn to the program for a different reason.

Personally, I applied to Undivided because I have been curious about the gap I notice between Sunday morning congregational worship and social justice activism in the broader community. I grew up in a loving, community-centred United Church in North Vancouver; however, it was only after attending university and being exposed to social justice issues that I started to develop a passion for social and environmental justice and grassroots organizing. My church circle and social justice circle have always been somewhat separate from each other, which is something I never questioned. Recently, I have been curious as to how these two circles can overlap. Where is the place for grassroots, social justice activism within the church? What can or does this look like?

After spending a weekend outside the city and engaging in contemplative practices and reflection, I came home feeling rested in my mind and energized in my inner self. It felt comforting to connect with others who have been wrestling with similar questions. I left feeling motivated to take my curiosity a step further and to start seeking answers. Our next weekend is at the end of April at the Inspire Conference in Vancouver. I am looking forward to spending time with the group and further exploring how my passions of social activism and grassroots organizing can be lived out in the church.

By Meggan Jacobson