Spirituality of Mountain Biking

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“My church is the mountains” is a phrase I hear often. Sometimes I’m the one saying it. And I fully support taking the time to hike or bike or otherwise play outside to find spiritual connection.

But sometimes the spirit is lost. Sometimes outdoor adventure becomes a logistical ordeal; sometimes it becomes mere competition; sometimes we forget to dwell in awe — even if just for a moment — despite our incredible surroundings. Noticing the Spirit takes intention.

And so we’re putting the spiritual intention into mountain biking. We’ll take the time to soak up the beauty around us. We’ll take the time to notice our breathing. We’ll take the time to notice our hearts pumping the vitality of life throughout our bodies. We’ll even take time to admire the human ingenuity to allows us to be there.

If you’d like to join us, here’s a registration link. We’d love to notice your spirit there.


Summer Camp — Planting Seeds for a Life of Meaning

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I wouldn’t say that attending summer camp is a pre-requisite for leading a life of meaning. But if I trace my life backward, many, many meaningful experiences have their roots in my days at summer camp.

I actually hated being a camper. Maybe that’s too strong. But I was homesick, I didn’t make friends easily, I rope-burned my hands (and was too ashamed to seek first aid), and the theology was a little intimidating (I didn’t use the word “theology” at the time, in case you’re wondering).

But when my brother phoned me early one summer to inform me of two things: 1. that he had had to fire 4 counsellors for smoking at their cabins and 2. I would taking one of their places, I hadn’t foreseen the new trajectory before me.

Portaging canoes is where I discovered the depth of my strength and endurance — a discovery that would serve me well playing football, running marathons and competing in triathlons…and sometimes enduring board meetings.

The high ropes course is where I learned to confront my fear — I often draw from that experience when venturing into unknowns situations.

Playing the role of camp counsellor is how I discovered my leadership potential — which, of course, is a work in progress.

I shudder to think which of my capacities might have remain covered to this day had I said “no” to my brother on the phone that day. Fortunately, I said a hesitant “yes” and that has brought incredible meaning to my life to date.

And now to plan that next canoe trip…

Greg, Nicole and Eliana (6 weeks) enjoying the canoe

Why the name, “Un-Church”?

Our Young Families Engagement group knew fairly early on that we wanted to launch something similar to what’s called Messy Church, which originated in England and has replicated all over the world. Many United Churches across Canada are doing Messy Church. We wanted to keep food central. We knew we wanted to teach what we saw were the core tenets of Christianity. We knew we wanted a time of singing and celebration.

But the term “Messy Church” didn’t sit quite right.

We also knew that Christianity carries a lot of baggage these days. Despite Canada’s holidays having a dominant Christian influence, Christianity itself is very much counter-cultural. And that’s as it should be: the movement Jesus of Nazareth began (or continued) millennia ago was a counter-cultural movement. And the forces of empire — such as excessive greed, dominance over others, or ecological destruction — are still at play. For many, the baggage of Christianity is too heavy to carry: the baby often gets thrown out with the bath water.

So we wanted to embrace the opportunity for people to unlearn what they assumed we at Castlegar United Church are about. We wanted to strip “church” back to its bare bones by asking what about a church is most important.

We foresaw it as a way to unwind because it meant at least one night without having to cook supper.

We foresaw it as a way to uncover the gems of Christianity that often get buried beneath the dirt.

We foresaw it as a way to understand how to make our own lives more peaceful for a more peace-filled world.

We wanted the word “church” in there somewhere, but we also wanted to communicate our desire to do things differently than we do on Sunday morning, and differently from how most imagine or assume we do things

And thus was born “Un-Church”.

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