St. Thomas has strong ties to the Diocese of Alabama. One way we stay connected is by taking advantage of diocese-wide Christian Formation opportunities.

Special Session at Camp McDowell

Special Session is a weeklong camp for people with mental and physical disabilities. It began in 1998 when a small group from St. Thomas, led by our rector Kee Sloan, hosted 38 campers for a long hot week in July. It has grown under the direction of Bishop Kee Sloan to become a vital part of the Diocese of Alabama’s summer camp ministry at Camp McDowell.

For the campers, it is summer vacation in beautiful fully accessible Bethany Village. For the counselors, the week can be transformative. They come away with invaluable life experiences and a deepening sense of what it means to love and serve others in God’s world. There is one glorious week of playing, laughing, swimming, crafts, hiking, singing, dancing, and loving as everyone grows together to experience a little bit of God’s heaven on earth.

Counselors are teenagers at least 16 years old or who have finished 10th grade. Applications for adults, counselors and campers can be found HERE or on our Facebook page, Special Session at Camp McDowell, or at specialsessionalabama.org. For more information, contact Special Session Executive Director Lindsey Mullen.

Cursillo

cursillo-retreatCursillo is a movement within the Christian church that is designed to “enable the essential realities of the Christian to come to life in the uniqueness, originality, and creativity of each person.” Cursillo pilgrims attend a three-day retreat. Many people who return from the weekend find their commitment to Christ strengthened and their desire to serve Christ’s Church increased.

If you participate in a Cursillo weekend, you will be expected:

  • To be open and willing to respond to what you experience, to share your feelings with others, and to allow them to share theirs with you.
  • To make a genuine effort to discover where you are and where or how you can grow in your Christian life.
  • To feel secure in the knowledge that you are accepted where you are and as you are, and to know that a specific response is not expected of you.
  • To be curious enough and thirsty enough for spiritual exploration and nourishment to acknowledge a need to commit a weekend of your life totally to Christ.

Returning pilgrims are encouraged to join in the activities of the St. Thomas Cursillo community. The purpose of this community is to give strength and support to each other in order that each person may continue to grow in faith and develop their particular gifts of ministry. St. Thomas has had an active Cursillo community for over 25 years. If you would like more information about Cursillo.

Happening

Happening is a program modeled on Cursillo but designed for high school youth. During a two-day gathering, participants experience the love of our Lord Jesus Christ as shown through the sacraments and the ministry of fellow students, clergy, and lay adults. Teens are encouraged to take a renewed faith back into their worlds to “make a friend, be a friend, and bring a friend to Christ.” Happening is endorsed by the National Youth Ministry Office of the Episcopal Church.

Throughout the weekend, Happeners work and play, sing, share, pray and worship. They are introduced to the sacramental life of the Episcopal Church. The weekend ends with Eucharist on Sunday afternoon. Participants are never asked to say or do anything that will embarrass them or compromise their principles. Any high school student in the 10th through 12th grade may attend Happening.

Vocare

Vocare is a form of a Latin word meaning “to call.” The Vocare weekend is a renewal weekend for young adults when they face serious decisions that set the direction for much of their adult life. Christians who have received the gift of God’s Holy Spirit in the sacrament of Holy Baptism are called by Jesus Christ to grow throughout their life in an intelligent understanding of God, in adoration and love for Him, in praise and thanksgiving, and in readiness to serve others in His name. How are we going to gain the skills to do that? That’s what Vocare is about. Besides talks and discussions, the weekend provides the chance to pray together, eat, sing, and play. There will be time for some quiet thinking alone, and time for talking with the spiritual directors. There will also be time for rest. That’s holy work, too. Participants are encouraged to ask questions, speak up, laugh, and enjoy the blessings of God in their lives. Vocare is open to any young adult who is searching for God’s plan for their life. The traditional age range for those attending is 18-30.