By Erik Alsgaard
There was a time, pre-pandemic, when clergy or local pastors might go away on a retreat to recharge their spiritual batteries by booking a cabin in the woods, a lofty perch on a mountain, or a house by a sandy beach filled with long walks.
Today, those opportunities are harder to come by, but the need for clergy to “fill their cup” is still there.
“This time is so taxing, so overwhelming (for clergy),” said the Rev. John Nupp, Executive Minister of Call and Clergy Care for the Baltimore-Washington Conference. “What is being asked of us is to re-engage. This is definitely a different season in ministry, which compels us to go back to the roots of what matters most in our call."
To provide opportunities for rest and spiritual growth, a team of pastors has been working for a year, planning ways to provide clergy care in this conference. Originally, the retreats were scheduled to be held in person at one of the BWC’s retreat centers. Now, the retreats will be online.
All active Elders, Deacons, and Local Pastors (serving both full and part-time) are invited to register to attend one of these events, depending on their focus of interest or availability. Nupp said. The themes build upon Living Compass resources.
The four themes are: Heart, on Sept. 22; Soul, on Oct. 7; Strength, on Oct. 15; and Mind, on Oct. 20.
“These one-day retreats,” Nupp said, “are designed to help give clergy the tools they need now as they begin to re-engage after the summer; as they begin to go back in the trenches of ministry.”
In the past, Nupp said, retreats were sometimes seen as “mini-vacations,” or a day off. These four opportunities will have more intentionality, he said, because of the toll of simply doing ministry in the time of a pandemic.
“The ‘why’ of doing a retreat is different now,” Nupp said. “It’s not just a day off. It is an intentional renewal time, and we see these four retreats as part of the plan for being renewed in ministry.”
Holistically healthy clergy are effective in ministry, said the Rev. Amanda McMurtrey, pastor at Mayo UMC in Edgewater and a member of the team putting together the retreats.
“Clergy should be healthy,” McMurtrey said. “And we say that, but the conference, if they’re going to ask for that, should be providing systems and ways for clergy to invest in their health. Because of COVID, this is what we’re able to offer right now.”
Registration is now open:
Reawakening your Heart -- Tuesday, Sept. 22, with Rev. Rev. Andy Peck-McClain
Relationships are at the heart of our being. This one-day retreat will explore our relationship with God, others, and ourselves as we draw from the wisdom of Howard Thurman, John O'Donohue, Lerita Coleman Brown, and others. There will be time to journal, reflect in small groups, and make space for your own spiritual practice. Learn more and register.
Renewing your Soul -- Wednesday, Oct. 7, with Rev. Nick Bufano
In order to listen for the voice of God, we must engage in Sabbath, balancing work, rest, and play. During this daylong retreat, we will use the words of Wayne Muller, Renita Weems, and Parker Palmer to frame and guide our time together. There will be time for personal reflection, attentive listening for the Spirit and small group discussion. Learn more and register.
Reviving your Strength -- Thursday, Oct. 15, with Rev. Twanda Prioleau
Are you finding it hard to physically keep up with the demands of ministry? If your answer to this question is, "Yes," then this retreat is for you. How well are you caring for your body? Care for our body is just as important as caring for our heart, soul, and mind. Our bodies are the temple of God. In this retreat we will talk about increasing our body's resilience to stress, finding our "rhythms of rest", and finding time to care for our bodies as we care for our souls. Healthy clergy make healthy congregations. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, "Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore, honor God with your bodies." Learn more and register.
Revitalizing your Mind -- Monday, Oct. 20, with Rev. John Nupp
Step away from your regular daily pattern to re-discover the abundant mercy of God in your world. We will take a journey into Romans 12:1-2, to "renew our minds in mercy" in the morning. In the afternoon, we will practice several time-tested disciplines for reframing our place in God's story. Learn more and register.