Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Unique Retreat

This weekend I attended my church's session retreat, which was the most unusual, and the most worthwhile retreat I ever went to.

Unusual because the idea was that instead of using the time to make plans for the coming year and asking God to bless them, we spent time practicing listening to God to see what his will was for our congregation and leadership. What a concept!

Two lovely contemplative services with communion began and closed the retreat. Passages from John 4 were the scriptural theme of the retreat. Pastors and elders who are involved in the spiritual development ministry of the church made several effective presentations about different spiritual practices, and we broke into small groups a couple of times to practice lectio divina. Although we did have a brief business meeting at the end of the retreat, it didn't take away from the rest of the experience.

My retreat roomie asked me how the retreat compared to other retreats I've attended at my former church and at presbytery. There is no comparison! The other retreats that focused on goal setting, vision statement writing, program planning and stuff like that usually left me irritated and then frustrated when, as invariably happened, the grand plans and resolutions that were produced were promptly forgotten. This retreat made me feel better equipped to listen to God as I go about my duties in the coming year.


Gannet Girl said...

It sounds wonderful, QG.

Out January session retreats are also spiritual formation week-ends, held at a retreat center, with presentations on spiritual leadership, chunks of time allotted to lectio and contemplation, and a communion service at the end. I think it's a great way to stop and immerse elders in our roles as spiritual leaders of the church. Without that recognition and committment, all the charts and vision statements and plans in the world are nothing more than business and professional skills transfered to another setting.

Songbird said...

What an awesome retreat!

Jane Ellen+ said...

This sounds marvelous, QG, and just the direction I'm trying to take my vestries here.

I'm wondering... do you have any written notes or such outlining the format? Or might I contact your pastor or leader of the retreat for same?

Kathryn said...

That's so interesting...It explains something I have been misunderstanding since getting to know you all! over here a retreat is inevitably focussed entirely around listening to God, has huge tracts of silence, a few addresses perhaps but definitely NO "getting things done" agenda. Those are dealt with in residentials...
At last, belatedly, a penny has dropped here!
Glad it was so good...what a blessing :-)

Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

That is so awesome. I love that it was a real retreat for you.

Quotidian Grace said...


I'm sure the two pastors who did most of the planning for the retreat would be willing to share the format with you.

And, by the way, both are women pastors!

Email either Kristen Huffman (khuffman at mdpc dot org) or Vicky Jones (vjones at mdpc dot org) and tell them I recommended you contact them.

Presbyterian Gal said...

That's the way to do it! How lovely.

Rev Kim said...

That sounds like a great retreat! I would love to move that direction, because we too have retreats where there is lots of enthusiasm and great plans and ideas. But follow-through is another thing. We're having a retreat at the end of March, and though that's several weeks away, I think it's not enough time for me to plant and water the seed that we will be silent and listening. Hopefully, next year.

Reformed Catholic said...

I just know what I would hear at Stodgy Presbyterian if I suggested this.

Aside from the usual its not a good time, or I have to bring the kid to (enter favorite kid thing here), I'd probably get the usual: Well, we've never done that here .

This is the group that thinks getting together, watching a DVD, then discussing everything but what was on the DVD is a Small Group. (sigh)