The century-old house next door to Norval United Church has been renovated for its new tenants. Formerly used by the congregation for office space, in September 2013 it became the temporary home of a group of young people aged 19–30, participants in Norval’s inaugural “intentional community” program. With financial support from the people of the United Church through the Mission and Service Fund, this residential program enables participants to explore their leadership potential and serve in the wider community.
A key part of the program is spiritual development. “I think young people are not averse to worship, praise, prayer, and spiritual practice, but it has to have meaning for them,” says Andrew Hyde, Norval’s youth minister. Participants meet with Hyde every other week to reflect on and set personal goals related to meditation, prayer, and scripture reading.
Group worship is part of their daily routine. Many in the congregation are exploring their spirituality alongside the group, patterning their own prayer times after those established by program participants. Located 40 minutes northwest of Toronto in a greenbelt area near the Niagara Escarpment, Norval United is deeply committed to environmental awareness and action. Intentional community participants volunteer with local environmental organizations and take an “eco-pilgrimage” along the nearby Bruce Trail through some of Ontario’s most pristine wilderness.
According to Hyde, through working, eating, and worshipping together, the young people in their intentional community ultimately experience Christ reflected in others and in themselves.
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