Reflections - Sanctum South 2022

This January a group of us gathered together in a new location - Felden Lodge in Hertfordshire. It was an opportunity for long standing members of the collective to meet again, and welcome some new people too. The theme was Sanctuary - we recognised that following the events of the ongoing Covid Pandemic we needed space to be refreshed and reflect.

Different Teams brought worship - Sue and Malcolm Wallace, Simon Rundell and Robb Sutherland (With remote support from Ruth) and Eddie Green and Margaret Pritchard Houston. The Worship explored a range of themes related to Sanctuary. Sacramental, rooted in the Catholic tradition of the Church of England, with diverse use of media and music, EDM, Rock, Chant and Paleo Folk.

The main meeting room of Felden Lodge was transformed into a multiscreen worship space with a central altar, and the chapel into a quiet space with prayer stations. We also gathered outside for worship and fire. Although Felden Lodge has a different feel to Mirfield it was an excellent venue, with great grounds, food and hospitality.

For our first discussion we reflected on How To Retreat. A Sanctum Retreat:

  • Is going away with trust and not pride.
  • A place to find something new.
  • Is where the weird is to be expected and is familiar.  
  • Brings together introvert and extrovert space, 
  • Has no measurable outcomes,
  • Time for deep prayer.
  • Space for conversation
  • Allows being and doing. 

It was felt that the act of crafting a Prayer Station for a Sanctum Retreat is a form of preparation in itself, and that the atmosphere and aesthetic of Sanctum was a unique charism. 

At heart a Sanctum Retreat is also Creedal and Sacramental, whilst being hospitable to people from a range of traditions.

Jo Beacroft-Mitchell, Congregations Development Advisor for HeartEdge led a presentation of their work and a discussion about Sanctum and the Wider Church. 

It was recognised that individual members of the collective had different wider commitments and networks, even though Sanctum was not a network of joiners! There is an obvious tension here, and the desire to keep the depth of relationships in the collective whilst also wanting to see Sanctum grow and welcome others. 

Sanctum is happy to work with other groups, but is naturally suspicious of the structured and institutional.

Our final discussion was about making and finding Sanctuary in the Community

Our commitment from the earliest days of the Alt.Worship movement to context was affirmed, for some of us cultural and others physical communities. 

We recognised that in our creativity we must be careful not to appropriate others' culture, and recognise our own power and privilege as church and as practitioners. 

We acknowledged that sometimes making Sanctuary for those who are culturally ‘un-churched’ makes an uncomfortable place for those who are ‘churched’, and mission often leaves a stark choice between reaching new people or pleasing existing Christians. 

Finally we underlined Sanctum’s commitment to inclusivity - there can be no Sanctuary whilst LGBTQ+ people are excluded.