Virtual Retreat - FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Generous Space?
Generous Space is a posture or way of being together where we learn to love across difference. We centre ourselves around four core values of humility, hospitality, mutuality, and justice. We are committed to dialogue, honouring each other’s individual autonomy, and developing respectful relationships and a deep sense of community together. Generous Space is also a community where we believe you are Beloved and you Belong.
Many of the retreat registrants participate in Generous Space Groups in their cities, where they meet regularly with other local LGBTQ2S+ Christians and allies to learn from one another and encourage each other in their faith.
Is Generous Space affirming?
Yes. Generous Space, as a ministry, affirms the relationships, families, gifts, and ministry contributions of LGBTQ2S+ people. There may be people within the community who hold a variety of theological views, however, our commitment is to ensure that LGBTQ2S+ people feel fully affirmed in our space.
Celibate people and those with traditional sexual ethics are still welcome in our community. We ask everyone to adhere to the following commitments: Will you listen deeply to the other and resist the urge to convince others to think and believe just like you do? Will you do your best to do no harm in our community, and if harm inadvertently occurs, will you pursue reconciliation to the best of your ability? Within these commitments, we recognize that people may hold many differing beliefs and values pertaining to theology and ethics, but focus on the common ground we share, being an encouragement and support to each other regardless of our differences, and ensure that robust conversation about differences is conducted in a respectful and kind manner. We recognize that our celibate folks and those holding traditional sexual ethics are in the minority within our community. So we particularly want to make space for them to feel that their story and journey are heard and honoured.
Can I join in on some parts of the virtual retreat and not others?
We know that it is a very different experience to participate in a "virtual" retreat instead of being in-person and being online for a long time can be exhausting. We want to carry on the spirit of permission that is part of all of our in-person retreats which means encouraging you to participate in as much or as little of the weekend as is helpful and healthy for you. If you are feeling overloaded by Zoom calls and need a break, feel free to skip anything that you need to!
The one thing that we ask is that if you do opt-in to Community Groups, that you try your best to attend all 3 sessions. These are opportunities for you to connect with your community group members and the sense of safety and trust can be disrupted if group members are coming in and out of meeting times.
I'm not sure how I feel about church/faith right now. I might not call myself a Christian. Can I still attend?
Yes! You won't be alone; for lots of different reasons, others who attend the virtual retreat are in a similar place, and our hope is that you would feel the safety to speak freely at the retreat about where you’re at. Your willingness to share where you’re at with faith gives other people freedom to “come out” of their own faith-related closets, which can sometimes be even more restrictive than the closets related to our sexual orientation or gender identity.
At retreats, we have an Affinity Group for participants who self-identify as “Triple A” (atheist, agnostic, or ambiguous about faith). We ask everyone to prioritize good self-care and to participate in the retreat in ways that are life-giving, and to opt out of parts of the retreat that they find triggering or less relevant to them.
To read more about how we navigate BOTH being a Christ-centered community AND being a place for those who are questioning, doubting, or no longer identify with faith, check out Wendy’s blog post on the topic, as well as her recent reflections on the key role of “Triple A” folks at last year's Ontario retreat.
I'm not fully "out." Should I be concerned about confidentiality and being on video?
Confidentiality is very important in our community. Our community groups begin with a group agreement to keep what’s shared within the group confidential. At every retreat, we have registrants who, for a variety of reasons, prefer not to be photographed. With the virtual nature of this connection time, we also want to take this need for confidentiality seriously. Our key-notes will be recorded to be shared with a wider audience. Only those who speak during the time that the recording is happening will have their video show up on the recorded video. If you do not speak or "unmute" yourself during a session, you will not appear on the video. For the Q&A portions of the recorded workshops or keynotes, you can always type your question into the "chat" box and a GS staff member will read your question anonymously. We will inform all participants if the meeting they are in is going to be recorded so they know in advance. As well, if at anytime you feel uncomfortable with being seen, feel free to turn off your video in Zoom.
I am an introvert / I have social anxiety. Is this retreat a good idea for me?
Yes! You will be in good company with others who understand.
We give plenty of permission for people to practice good self-care at the retreat, and to participate in ways that will be life-giving, skipping things and taking time for themselves when needed.
I struggle with my mental health. Should I come? What supports are available?
Many people in our community deal with mental illness on a daily basis. To support one another as peers and to destigmatize mental illness, we incorporate mindfulness exercises into our main sessions and teach about mental health coping skills. While we won't be able to have a peer support team during this retreat, you are always welcome to set up a debrief time with one of the Directors of Community to talk a bit about what you're learning, processing, or what came up for you at the retreat. Though we try to give trigger warnings when possible, at our retreats, people often share vulnerably from their stories and discuss sensitive topics. This can sometimes stir up difficult memories, trauma and trigger past emotional and spiritual harm. The retreat can be intense at times. So if you’re in a season of particularly shaky mental health, please take this into consideration before registering.
Can I attend if I'm straight / cisgender - if I'm not LGBTQ2S+? What would my involvement look like?
We warmly welcome straight/cisgender allies who want to be supportive and approach the retreat with a posture of listening and learning. Whether you’re a parent, friend, or pastor of LGBTQ2S+ people, your presence as learner can be a real encouragement to our LGBTQ2S+ participants. We invite you to come with an open mind, to listen deeply, and to experience what it’s like to be a sexual/gender “minority” in a predominantly LGBTQ2S+ crowd. You may recognize your privilege in ways you haven’t realized before, and while this can be uncomfortable, it can also be a tremendous learning opportunity. You will likely hear perspectives and stories that challenge how you’ve thought about things. If you are ready to fully engage with mind and heart, we’d love to have you!
If your question wasn't answered here, contact us to ask it!