By Pastor Jonathan Linman
Pastoral ministry is typically undertaken with a long "to do" list closely at hand. What about a "to be" list? That is to say, do pastors claim occasions just to be – present with themselves, each other, and with God? Ordained ministry is very active, going from one place, person, and meeting to the next without sufficient pause to take it all in. The spirit of our age, with its rapid pace of change and availability of new technologies, only turns up the volume on our busyness. Being role models in abiding with God and each other in Christian community is a great gift leaders give to our over-productive world as we engage in mission with that world. I would go so far as to say that claiming time for retreat is among one’s pastoral responsibilities. We can only feed if we ourselves have first been fed.
The annual Bishop’s Retreat is one occasion when pastors can just be. Bishop Rimbo and other planners of this event have discerned that it should really be a true retreat and not an occasion for workshops and lectures. A format weaving together inspirational talks, conversation, and worship has been well-received. This model was first used last year, featuring well-known pastor-poet Susan Briehl and the "Claimed, Gathered, Sent" themes of our strategic plan. "[The meditations] were balm for my soul," said one pastor. Another participant remarked that "worship was wonderful and very creative." When asked about the highlights of the retreat, another pastor listed "good friends, good food, good atmosphere, great singing!"
This year, the Bishop’s Retreat will feature Professor Gordon Lathrop, and will center on the theme of Mutual Conversation and Consolation, the first foray into our strategic plan’s focus on the means of grace, "Growing Deeply in Faith: Five Years of God’s Creative Grace."
In addition to worship, conversation, and inspirational talks, there is occasion at the retreat for social time with each other, good food and drink, massage, yoga, arts and crafts, conversation with spiritual directors, and/or doing nothing but enjoying the grounds of the Passionist Retreat Center in West Hartford, Connecticut. Napping and other solitary activities are also encouraged! It’s a gentle schedule that gives participants the freedom to engage whatever is needed to deepen their relationship with God and with each other, which is central to our life together as a synod.
Because a sufficient number of rostered leaders on the ELCA health plan took the online health assessment last year (resulting in a monetary reward from Portico Benefit Services), the 2014 Bishop’s Retreat has no fee for registration, room and board. Congregations, give your pastors time "to be" and pastors, give yourself and your colleagues the gift of your presence at this year’s retreat!
Find the retreat schedule and register here.