“Every Stitch a Prayer” Congo Cloth Connection–Part One

Africa was not on my horizon for 2012. Although I’ve supported Nigerian women through Women for Women, I simply didn’t think much about Africa.

In late January, while talking with my friend Nina Lanctot, she mentioned her upcoming spring trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Then, she mentioned that one of the women—a sewer—couldn’t go on the trip: would I be interested?

I tried to be cool, calm, and collected while asking for some details and told her that I need to talk with Kevin, pray about this, and figure out some work details. I asked for a few days. I called her back the next day and told her, “I’m in!!”

I leave for Kinshasa, Congo with Nina and Nancy Myers on April 30 and return May 16. We are going as part of the “Every Stitch a Prayer”—Congo Cloth Connection.

“Every Stitch a Prayer” began when Christine Nofsinger visited the DR of Congo in 2009 and fell in love with the cloth of Congo. As a quilter, Chris immediately imagined a world of projects with the Congolese fabric. When she returned to the U.S. she wondered how she could be part of God’s work in Congo. The complexity of beauty and suffering were hard to sort out and as she used Congo cloth for quilts, she began to pray.

When Chris returned from the Congo in 2009 she had three suitcases jammed full of cloth. Now when the MCC country representatives, Tim and Suzanne Lind, or others with Congo connections travel, they also return with yards of cloth. There is no other way to get cloth to North America as there is no postal or delivery service between the Congo and U.S.  The fabric is sold and money sent back to the Congo. Quilts have been made and auctioned off with the funds going back to the Congo to support a sewing training center in Kinshasa. (More about the sewing center to come!).

Nina, Nancy, and I will be visiting with the Mennonite Church groups based in Kinshasa. Nina will be preaching the two Sundays we will be there and Nancy will be videotaping and conducting interviews with the Congolese people. I will be purchasing fabric to sell in the US and meeting with the women at the sewing center.

I am very excited about this adventure and am in awe how this opportunity has unfolded for me!

Arts Saturdays: Spirit Collage

Collage is an accessible medium for individuals who are beginning to use visual expressions as part of their prayers.  Both spirituality and art use the power of symbols to awaken us to the Spirit’s nudging in our lives. And collage is an accessible form: card stock, images, and glue!

Arts Saturdays: Spirit Collage is a four-session retreat at The Hermitage (Three Rivers, Michigan) which explores God’s presence in our lives though collage making, contemplative gazing, and journal writing.

Participants can choose from the following options or choose all four:

*September 10: Introduction to Collage        *October 15: Mandala Collage
*March 3: Labyrinth Collage                          *May 5: Triptych Collage

The cost is $60 per session or $220 for all four sessions. This includes lunch and all retreat materials.

Interested persons should register for all four sessions by August 15 or one month before each session. Individuals wanting to stay overnight or have a private room accommodation should make separate arrangements when registering.

For further information, contact me at: jmdriedger [at] mindspring.com or The Hermitage at: 269.244.8696

Writing Our Spiritual Memoir Retreat Series

Scripture is filled with people telling the stories of how God is present in their lives and how it connects with God’s Story. In this nine-month series at The Hermitage (Three Rivers, Michigan,) we continue this tradition by writing our spiritual memoirs. We will use the text Memoirs of the Soul: A Writing Guide by Nan Merrick Phifer. Each day will include an opening meditation, instruction, writing and reading times. Lunch is included.

The memoir writing days (9 am to 4 pm) will meet on the following Fridays:

*September 9                          *October 14                            *November 4
*December 2                           *January 6                               *February 3
*March 2                                  *May 4                                     *June 8

The cost for the 9 sessions is $500 (half can be paid in 2011 and the other half in 2012). This includes a lunch and group leadership.

Interested persons should register by August 15. Individuals wanting to stay overnight or have a private room accommodation should make separate arrangements when registering.

For further information, contact me at: jmdriedger [at] mindspring.com or The Hermitage at: 269.244.8696

Clergy Renewal Retreat Series

This is a nine-month program of quiet days (9 am to 4 pm) at The Hermitage (Three Rivers, Michigan) with facilitated group spiritual direction for clergy persons.  The purpose is for clergy to experience a time apart from the details of the church office and to reconnect with God. The group spiritual direction is a time of contemplative prayer and listening to one another.

The renewal days meet on the following Thursdays:

*September 8                          *October 13                            *November 3
*December 1                           *January 5                               *February 2
*March 1                                  *May 3                                     *June 7

The cost for the 9 sessions is $600 (half can be paid in 2011 and the other half in 2012). This includes a private room, lunch and the facilitated group direction.

Interested clergy should register by August 15. Overnight accommodation may be available for an additional fee.

For further information, contact me at: jmdriedger [at] mindspring.com or The Hermitage at: 269.244.8696