February 4, 2017

Revitalizing Retreats

In the last three months I've had the opportunity to attend three retreats. The first was a two-day spiritual retreat at Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York. This was a time for prayer, worship, guided reflections and, most important, silence. All the participants relished the time together to unplug.

The second retreat was a board and conference planning meeting for two groups that meet primarily by conference call. We met at the Maritime Institute in Baltimore, Maryland from noon on Friday to noon on Saturday.

In the conference planning meeting one of our participants said I know we have a lot of work to do, but I am more interested in establishing stronger relationships. We had the opportunity to talk about ourselves and our Episcopal and Lutheran traditions which very positively informed our planning.

The Board meeting following was a time to reflect on current events in the world, our country, the Episcopal Church, our organization and update or create new strategies and actions to be more effective given our present reality.

The third retreat was a vestry retreat in which we met in a neighboring Episcopal church on a Sunday afternoon for four hours. After a pot-luck meal we revisited our mission, and focused on a few short term tangible goals.

Highlights from these three retreats are:

  • Retreats can be any length from four hours to two days or more; we often believe they will be a huge time commitment when it does not have to be.
  • Retreats can be held anywhere. Oftentimes the concern about cost prevents holding these events. A best practice is to hold the retreat away from your normal meeting space. We can be creative; neighboring churches are often no cost. Some retreat centers may include meals or have group rates.
  • Content of retreats will vary: we can do nothing or attempt to solve world peace. Frequency will vary from meeting annually, or quarterly etc. Structure can vary from a formal facilitated meeting to free-form discussions. Participants will vary so we need to accommodate retirees as well as those in the workforce.

Most important, taking time away from our daily routines to refresh, renew and revitalize our mind, body and spirit will enable more rewarding ministries.