April is a good month for Retreat House Chester. In April 2016 we held our first Launch event; and now, a year on, we are able to celebrate our First Birthday. Although the project had two years of research and planning behind it, and was registered as a charity in August 2015, the sunny April evening when we first welcomed almost a 100 people is when things really got going.
Now, in April 2017, with a programme of events underway, it’s been really good to welcome both those who are discovering RHC for the first time and those who are returning. Our hope is that the variety of events and timings means that over time folk can find something that appeals and that they can get to.
Weekday evenings see Contemplative Prayer (a monthly Monday) as we join in Chester Cathedral’s time of simple input and shared stillness in the beautiful and ancient setting of St Anselm’s Chapel, and a Thursday Hub (also monthly) of conversation on themes for reflective living. With a simple presentation on the theme, and then time for coffee and conversation, so far our Hub themes have been ‘Retreat’ and ‘Discovering Silence’; in April we will be exploring sustainable living with the theme of ‘Permaculture’. We are glad to get out into the city and hold these at the Quaker Meeting Rooms just off Frodsham Street.
During the day on weekdays there’s monthly Open House, when you can call in to our rooms in 9 Abbey Square to find out more about Retreat House Chester – say hello, have a coffee, find resources and maybe spend some quiet time. Our mostly monthly Friday Short Retreats (but a Thursday in July!) based in the Cathedral are proving to be valuable times of shifting perspective a little as we take a few hours out of our normal routines to find some quiet and some stillness alongside others and alone, with simple resources to help with prayer and reflection.
And at the weekend, Soulful Saturdays provide varied workshops and reflective days drawing on Christian spirituality, led for us by a range of visiting retreat-givers and facilitators, in the Cloister Room of the Cathedral, a smaller and more retreat-like setting than our big Launch events of 2016. One of the best things about these events is that they bring together people from a diverse range of places and communities. Some have come alone, and some with a friend or partner. Their positive feedback is a real encouragement, and we hope that folk take away something meaningful for their own living. We try to post a short piece about each Saturday event in the News on our website – so that those who weren’t there can still benefit a little from the day.
Take a look at our Programme pages on our website to find out more about what’s happening as we work our way through each month with weekday and weekend events, daytime and evening.
RHC is all about making retreat accessible in ways that fit with how we live. We want to be able to do this through a non-residential city-based retreat house – with so much more happening there than we can currently offer. So alongside our programme we are busy fundraising, and are very grateful for the wonderful support of donors. We are a good part of the way along this path (more news soon…) but as we celebrate our First Birthday the hope of retreat in the city is becoming real. Why not try one of our events to celebrate?