An ambitious project aims to raise £150,000 to reopen a Retreat House in the shadow of Chester Cathedral.
Retreat House Chester is the charity behind the vision to create ‘a breathing space’ from today’s busy world.
The plan is to reopen 11 Abbey Square which first launched as a retreat back in 1925.
A programme of retreat-related events is already under way using other venues including the cathedral, who would be happy to lease number 11 to the charity.
Income generated goes towards the appeal for a permanent home along with grant funding and donations from benefactors.
This community venture wants to offer ways of retreating that meet the needs of modern living within a Christian tradition – although the facility would be open to atheists and people from other faiths.
Retreat House Chester, based at 9 Abbey Square, says: “The fact that the old retreat house now stands empty presents a wonderful opportunity to do this. So we are aiming to take on the ground floor and re-open the door.”
The venue aims to be a non-residential sanctuary, open to all, ‘offering opportunities for silence, stillness, reflection, prayer and conversation; workshops, talks and courses’.
Working alongside the cathedral landlords, it would be run by staff and volunteers, with local and national visiting speakers and facilitators.
Retreat House says: “Many of us today feel the need to slow down or step aside now and again, maybe to find a greater depth and connection in life as we live it – personal life, family life, working life. When people are able to do this, research shows that there are not just personal benefits, but benefits to society too.
“A city needs breathing spaces. Retreat House Chester, rooted in Christian tradition, believes that refreshing the ancient practice of retreat has much to offer people today, whatever our differences, and that sometimes we need to be able to do this in ways that fit with modern daily living.
"Whether it is simply quiet private time that is needed, or ways of exploring reflective living and spirituality, Retreat House Chester wants to be a place for this.”
Monies raised are being used to pay for temporary premises to run the programme of events and help the charity become established while fundraising – with a view to eventually taking on and refurbishing the ground floor of Retreat House in Abbey Square.
Among the upcoming events are ‘Soulful Saturday: A Singing Retreat’ taking place in the refurbished Wesley Church Centre, St John Street, Chester, between 10.30am - 2.30pm on Saturday, March 17, 2018. Admission, including lunch, is £20.
For more information about the project, click here.