Canterbury Club holds ‘Communion in a Cave’

Kendall Aronson, Campus Carrier Asst. Arts & Living Editor

Photo courtesy of Liz Kelly

Berry’s Canterbury Club gathers in White River Cave for “Communion in a Cave” on Good Friday.

The Canterbury Club hosted a Good Friday service inside of White Water Cave, roughly thirty minutes from Berry.

Rebecca Land Segrest is the Missioner of Berry’s Canterbury club, and it is her role to create opportunities for spiritual growth for the students at Berry. This Good Friday she decided to combine her long-time love of caving with her role as the missioner and create a unique experience for students. She has been a caver for 19 years, and she now teaches cave and cliff rescue classes, writes curriculums for the National Cave Rescue Commission and continues to have a passion for caving. Segrest has always felt a spiritual connection with caves.

“(Caving) has always been a powerful experience to me,” Segrest said.

Senior Mary Catherine Iversen, the president of the Canterbury Club, said that the cave additionally provides a good picture of how Christians used to meet when they were being persecuted inside caves for worship, and for when Mary discovered Jesus’s body had disappeared from the cave which was being used as his tomb.

“Being in the darkness of the cave listening to the story of how Jesus died was really powerful and brought it all home,” Iversen said.

Segrest arranged for the priest, Mother Nikki Mathis, to be at the service, and organized transportation for students to and from the cave and arranged access with the cave.

Segrest began trying to coordinate access to a cave around Thanksgiving, but ran into problems finding a cave owner who was willing to allow the club the ability to host communion inside of their cave.

She was scrolling through old photos and found pictures of one of her friends who she had previously gone caving with, and found the cave to be White River Cave. It was nearby Berry, and seemed like a good option, so Segrest found a Facebook page and eventually found a phone number that was many years old. Luckily, the phone number worked, and she began corresponding with the owners of White River Cave. The owner of the cave was also an Episcopalian and thought that having communion in the cave would be a great opportunity for the students as well.

“It felt like divine intervention at the time, because I was so used to finally getting ahold of people and then being told no.” Segrest said. “Hearing my story and for him to be so welcoming and so forthcoming and for him to also be Episcopalian – that was really awesome.”

Segrest said that she could not have asked for someone better to work with than the owner of White River Cave.

“Finding the cave was the hard part, and once I secured that everything else just fell into place,” she said.

Iversen said that the feeling of going back outside, into the light, after experiencing the service inside the cave was extremely moving. She also said the event had a good turnout, and that it was nice to see students taking time out of their day on their day off to worship with the Canterbury club with this unique experience.

“The environment itself is unfamiliar,” Segrest said. “Caves are not someplace that people usually visit for no good reason. The uncomfortableness of the environmental situation combined with the circumstance we can never fully grasp the magnitude of that feeling (of the Crucifixion), but we can put ourselves in that environment, in the cold and in the dripping wet, and feel that isolation.”

The Canterbury Club is a club for the Episcopal Church on campus, but it accepts people of all faiths to join. They plan on continuing to offer “Communion in a Cave.”

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