Sorrento Centre secures $500k for youth leadership program

Sorrento Retreat and Conference Centre, Sorrento, BC, has received commitment for $250,000 in funding from the Diocese of New Westminster. This contribution matches a Ministry Investment Fund (MIF) grant and allows the centre to launch a residential youth leadership program. The MIF grant runs from 2014 through 2016, with contributions of $80,000 in each of the first two years and $85,000 in the final year. The total $500,000 will support up to five pilot years of the Winter Youth Leadership Development (WYLD) program.

The residential program focusing on personal development and vocational discernment will bring together young adults from 18 to 28 years of age at Sorrento. WYLD seeks to respond to a culture where traditional religious belief and practice are sometimes unappealing to young people, but where questions of meaning are nevertheless pressing. The program will help participants respond to these questions by discovering how their skills and passions relate to the world’s deepest needs. The chair of Sorrento’s board, the Venerable Andrew Pike, remarks, “Places like Sorrento will become more and more important for people to discover their own spiritual nature.”

This innovative program draws inspiration from other intentional communities and will give participants space to contemplate “who they are, where they’re going, and what they are up to,” says Pike. Small cohorts of about ten young adults will live community and partake in work, worship, and play together. Pike explains that participants are expected to both shape and be shaped by their time together; “There is an expectation of giving as well as receiving.”

The MIF and Diocesan contributions are critical for WYLD. Unlike adult programming at Sorrento, which can operate on a cost-recovery or profit basis, young adult programming needs financial support to reduce financial barriers. Youth programming runs at a net loss, but is central to Sorrento’s identity and own vocation. Explains Pike, “If we don’t have a ministry that supports and encourages young people in faith, then we may as well close up shop and go home because that’s what we are about.”

According to Michael Thompson, General Secretary of the Anglican Church of Canada, the Ministry Investment Fund Grant from the endowment of General Synod is particularly appropriate in this anniversary year. “A significant source of funding for the founding of Sorrento Centre fifty years ago was a grant from the national church, and now we are able to renew that partnership.” Mr. Thompson also expressed gratitude to those who generously support General Synod through bequests, and for the partnerships that generosity makes possible.

When asked what success for WYLD would look like, Pike said he hopes to see participants emerge on the other side with a deep “optimistic confidence” that would equip people with the skills for lifelong discernment, spiritual development, and the courage to follow a particular path.

To find out more about the Sorrento Centre and its programs, please visit www.sorrento-centre.bc.ca.


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