Parish Weekend Visit to Sheldon, Devon

On the afternoon/evening of 11th May 2018, 25 members of St John's congregation arrived at the Society of Martha and Mary, Sheldon, a volunteer Anglican community whose main mission is to support people in times of crisis or breakdown. They also host larger groups such as ourselves for short periods. The Community is situated at the end of winding lanes and has a peaceful aura.

The aim of the weekend was to relax, share fellowship and get to know each other better.  We were split into six teams at random, to share jobs associated with the meal preparations.  The early arrivals helped with the unloading of an entire Sainsbury food delivery van into the kitchen.  To make life easier on the first night we all brought our own version of cottage pie and a sweet course to share.  The first evening we met up in the large communal lounge for a session of listening to music that each individual had chosen that meant something special to them.  This was very enjoyable and revealed interesting facets of people’s characters.

Day two started with a tasty cooked breakfast  After breakfast, two of our party left to pursue their own interests, bird watching and golf!  The three young people were then given a mission of their own and had a series of clues to solve throughout the remainder of the weekend.  They combined this with high-velocity Swingball matches, taking on any passing adult brave enough to have a go.  For the rest of us, breakfast was followed by a lively discussion on "Who or What God Is?".  It was interesting to hear other people’s views especially those that were radically different from our own.  We then all made collages of our hopes and aspirations for the year ahead using cardboard bases and pictures cut from magazines that we had brought with us. 

Another tasty meal of cold meats, cheese and salads followed and then we were free for the afternoon.  Some members walked the labyrinth situated close to our rooms. Others walked through the extensive woodland that was beautiful with a riot of spring flowers, visiting old haunts and a nearby garden centre.  Some adults challenged the children to Swingball games, although perhaps regretted it later.  In the evening we again listened to music and discussed it's meaning in our lives.  Quantities of vodka, gin and wine were drunk!

On the last day we had a continental breakfast followed by an informal Communion Service.  This was a new experience for some, but much appreciated.  We then had other session making a giant collage to be displayed at St John’s before sitting down to an enormous roast beef lunch.  All the cooks excelled themselves and there was plenty of food left over.  The afternoon was then spent tidying the Centre and dividing up the left-over food before regretfully leaving to make our way back home.

The weekend was a great success and definitely something to be repeated.