As Pastor Tim and I see our time winding down with you all, we want to each take a moment to share a ministry that has been life-giving for us and a place of vitality for the church. There are many things we could name, but I will name just one that has been a particular joy for me and that is the annual Women’s Retreat at Shepherd’s Spring. I know I’ve always said, “what happens at Women’s Retreat stays at Women’s Retreat” but I’ll break this rule a little so that I can praise the wonderful things happening in the sacred space of Women’s Retreat.
The idea for the Women’s Retreat came from the cottage meetings that Pastor Tim and I hosted in our first year with you all. Our second year focus on spirituality was a natural time to add this new opportunity. After testing the idea with some, we dove head first into the idea and put together a planning team.
What the women who have attended the Women’s Retreat know is that the weekend is a space of deepening relationship, both with God and with one another. We have laughed so hard we’ve cried (these are typically the moments we don’t share with the rest of the church). We’ve shared so deeply that we’ve left the weekend feeling full (not just on the wonderful food served at Shepherd’s Spring). We have learned from one another’s faith and have grown from our opportunity to be in fellowship with one another. We’ve played, prayed and partnered together in faith development.
Each year we’ve benefited from leaders both outside the church as well as within our own congregation. Over the years we’ve had themes on stress, women in the Bible, finding God’s call in your life, and prayer. We’ve engaged these themes with engaging sessions and fun activities.
A highlight for many women, including myself, who stay for the full weekend retreat is Sunday morning. After a full weekend of engaging sessions and conversation, Sunday morning is a time of quiet reflection. With music playing, women are free to move around the room to a variety of guided activity stations. For about an hour, the women can engage in creative prayer opportunities and opportunities to make the theme for the weekend personal. It is the cherry on top of wonderful weekend.
After our weekend we continued the momentum of our time together by being assigned prayer partners for the year. This is a great opportunity to continue to feel the support of faithful women throughout the year.
Each year I left Women’s Retreat with such a profound appreciation for the women in this church. You all are pillars of faith in this place. I pray you continue to grow closer to one another and deeper in faith. And I pray that your love for one another and deep faith can continue to spill out into the rest of the church. You have been a blessing to me and are a blessing to this church!