Residents gather weekly for ecumenical Bible study
One of the things that makes WCBR stand out among retirement communities is that the people who choose to live here are doers. They engage in things that keep their minds, bodies – and their spirits – strong.
Some residents take up new interests. Others continue to serve those around them in ways that continue their lives’ work. Greg Taylor and Henry Minich fit into the latter category.
Both are Episcopal priests. Now, they lead the Bible study group that meets in the chapel every Tuesday at 10 a.m.
“This is a gathering that goes back to the 1990s, well before I came to live here,” says Greg. When he moved to WCBR in 2003, the study group was going strong, and he was happy to participate. Eventually, he was asked to take a larger role.
The sessions last for about an hour. They are “fairly informal,” says Henry. Greg leads the discussion for two weeks, then Henry – who arrived at WCBR in 2017 – handles the third.
There is usually a “devotional” segment included in the gatherings – “prayers for the sick and that kind of thing,” says Greg. The session ends with the Lord’s Prayer. In between, the meeting gets down to the main reason for gathering. These days, the focus is usually upon the Gospel reading for the following Sunday from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer.
The group is more ecumenical than it may sound. Some participants are Episcopalian, and others are Presbyterian or Methodist. Catholics, or anyone from any of several liturgical denominations, will find the readings fit well with the calendars of their own respective traditions. Everyone is welcome.
Beyond that, residents from non-denominational faith communities will appreciate the openness of discussion around scripture and the welcoming atmosphere of the group. WCBR is a diverse community, welcoming people of all beliefs and traditions.
Recently, the reading was a passage from Mark Chapter 9 in which Jesus was telling his disciples about his coming crucifixion in Jerusalem, only to find that his apostles had been arguing amongst themselves about which of them was the greatest. It was a stark illustration of “The whole problem of how people didn’t really understand Jesus,” said Greg – a problem that still plagues Christians today.
The discussions go beyond theology. Often they concern the historical and cultural contexts in which the Gospels came into being. “We both talk about how the Gospel writer was obviously writing within the context of a cultural milieu,” said Henry.
Also, “We don’t always stay riveted on the topic,” says Greg. Discussion sometimes leads in other directions.
Attendance varies. Sometimes as many as a dozen come.
During the most restrictive days of the pandemic there were no in-person gatherings. So the leaders distributed written lessons to be studied at home. Greg says a lot of people really appreciated that – particularly those with hearing problems. They found the topic easier to follow in writing.
But now the group is back together – which may not be the case in some communities. Fortunately, at this time “the situation here at Westminster-Canterbury is such that it’s okay to meet in groups.” says Greg.