Bread, Beer, and Spiritual Formation

“Fermenting Cultures of Spiritual Formation” was a conference held in Mississauga this April focused on spiritual formation in local contexts.
By on May 31, 2024

You Are Leaven: Fermenting Cultures of Spiritual Formation” was a conference held in Mississauga this April focused on spiritual formation in local contexts. The conference was sponsored by the Council of General Synod and I was fortunate to participate. People from across the Canadian Anglican church gathered to share experiences of spiritual formation together and then were tasked with bringing our experiences back to our own contexts in the hope that we could act as fermenting agents where we live.

Spiritual formation is the life-long journey that we embark on as Christians that moves us to grow in our faith, in depth and in breadth, in ourselves and in our communities, to be ever more Christ-like and Christ-centered. As Anglicans, we engage in spiritual formation in so many ways. We participate in the worship life of our communities, we practice hospitality, feed the hungry, care for the ill, and engage in our concerns for the earth. We do bible studies and book studies, we read scripture and practice the daily offices, we pray in groups and alone in so many different ways.

Leaven is good bacteria, like yeast, that helps with the fermentation process. We tend to use it in baking breads, fermenting beer, or kombucha and other fermented foods. Fermentation takes time and it requires the right conditions (bacteria, a little heat, a little sugar and some patience). We may not be able to see all of the work going on inside a rising bread dough or bubbling beer vat but in time, we enjoy the results. We know that a small amount of yeast can have a large impact as it bubbles away, leading to growth and change within the initial ingredients that were mixed together. The ways in which we nurture and feed our own spiritual lives can contribute to nurturing and feeding the spiritual lives of others. Together we can act as yeast, each growing and changing, deepening our own spiritual lives, our lives in community and in the wider world.

This conference had no experts or keynote speakers, only faithful people sharing with each other the practices that help to feed their spiritual growth. As participants, we shared in an abundance of worship together and attended 4 sessions around spiritual formation. During each session we were taught about the topic, then given some time to practice what we had been introduced to and finally we reflected on our experiences together. This 3-fold model was very important to the weekend and allowed us to embody new ideas in a profound and active way. Our willingness to reflect upon our experiences helped to deepen our faith and understanding.

The hope of this conference was for everyone present would return to their own contexts bubbling with leaven to feed others. In the busyness of our lives we can forget about tending our spiritual fermentations. We may need to be fed anew to allow our fermentation to revive or to help someone else revive their process. My hope for us in the Diocese of Kootenay is to share our spiritual journeys and gifts with one another and encourage the sharing and building up of the Christ-like disciples that we are all called to be. My intention is to share prayer practices this coming fall through my home parish of Christ Church Cranbrook. What might you do in your part of the diocese to nurture spiritual growth here, throughout the Kootenay region?


  • Kristy Arndt

    Kristy Ardnt is a member of the Spiritual Development Committee in the Diocese of Kootenay

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