If you’re in an Episcopalian in the Diocese of Georgia and haven’t visited Honey Creek, make it make it your mission in 2017 to visit. For those of you who may not know, Honey Creek is a coastal retreat for the Diocese of Georgia and is located near Waverly, Ga.   Nestled in the woods and overlooking the beautiful coastal Georgia marshes, Honey Creek is holy ground, a refuge for the faithful, and a place to experience the beauty of God’s creation and meditate on the grace and love we have been given.

I’ve only been to Honey Creek once. However, this was enough to make me realize that Honey Creek was more than a campground or retreat center. Several months ago, Integrity Georgia held a retreat at Honey Creek. I was excited to go but assumed it would be nothing more than a chance to catch up with friends, a meeting, and a good meal. It was all of these things but it was so much more. Upon entering the property, I was overcome with a feeling of peace and serenity. The property is shaded almost entirely with towering trees draped with moss. Dormitories, meeting spaces, and a mess hall are scattered about the property. The hallmark of Honey Creek is the Chapel of our Savior.

Shortly after arriving our group convened for a meeting. New and old faces alike warmly greeted each other. There are no strangers at Honey Creek. We are all one body with one mission. The speakers and meeting were all wonderful. As a group, we discussed how we could make our mark on the church and how we can open the hearts and minds of those within the diocese to a fuller acceptance of all of God’s people. In the Diocese of Georgia, we are fortunate to have numerous affirming congregations. However, there is much work to be done. Honey Creek proved to be the perfect venue to renew our hearts and minds and get strength for what lies ahead.

The retreat ended with one of the most beautiful services I have ever attended. We celebrated Holy Eucharist in the Chapel of our Savior. There were about 30 of us present. It was a very diverse group – LGBT and straight, black and white, old and young. We celebrate and embrace the diversity of God’s creation. We all filed into the chapel, each picking up a Book of Common Prayer, a necessity for any service in the Episcopal Church. We also picked up a traditional hymnal as well as a hymnal entitled Lift Every Voice and Sing. This hymnal holds a collection of African American hymns that have become part of many Episcopal worship services and celebrates the rich musical traditions that the African American community has brought to the church. At the conclusion of the service, we celebrated Eucharist. This particular celebration is seared into my memory. A sense of peace permeated the chapel. During the celebration, we sung Taste and See as each individual knelt at the altar and received the Sacrament. Glancing around the room, I could tell that everyone felt as I did. Our spirits were renewed and hearts and minds were at peace.

Nothing I can say or write can do justice to my experience at Honey Creek. It’s simply something that one has to experience for herself or himself. I recently read that the presiding bishop, Michael Curry, will be at Honey Creek later this year. Though details are forthcoming, I hope that I will be able to attend. Even if I can’t go, my memories of Honey Creek are enough to last a lifetime. I can’t wait to go back.