Conference Hosts REFRESH To Celebrate Ministry Milestones

Date Posted: 9/24/2015

A blessing from the Bishop is just one of many special activities that ordained and licensed clergy experience by attending REFRESH to celebrate special ministry anniversaries.
"Frankly, I didn't know what to expect from REFRESH,” admits recent attendee Rev. Irv White, Windsor Village UMC. “My first thoughts had nothing to do with personal benefits: How am I going to manage a two-and-a-half day getaway in the middle of the week?   I wouldn’t be available to get my daughter to and from school and ballet class, not to mention the work I would miss and have to complete upon my return.”
He reasoned that, although none of those reasons had anything to do with the value of REFRESH, they were real and they represented the day-to-day obligations that forced him to seriously question whether he was going to participate. “I had to come to the realization that it is responsibilities like those along with the ‘24/7ness’ of ministry that lead to burnout and I was feeling the burn. With my family’s help, we were able to work out my getaway plan and I got away--- and glad I did.”
The Texas Annual Conference (TAC) hosts this annual event for clergy celebrating a ministry milestone of continuous appointment of ordination (5, 10, 15 years etc). TAC Center for Clergy Excellence Director Rev. Gail Ford Smith says, “REFRESH is a gift to our clergy because they are our best resource.  We know these are challenging times and our clergy give of themselves in such powerful ways.  We want to offer them a time away for reflection and renewal about their call from God among friends and colleagues.”
The REFRESH Class of 2015 includes:

5 Years Rev. Patty Bergfield
Rev. Patrick Evans
Rev. Hazel Jackson
Rev. Tommy Myrick
Rev. David Urban
Rev. Deborah Vaughn
Rev. Virginia Wall
Rev. Kristin Bogart
Rev. Verronda Flanagan
Rev. Sarria-Anaya
Rev. Larry Shows

10 Years
Rev. Jesse Brannen
Rev. Donald Brown
Rev. Kevin Gilmore
Rev. Cathy Richardson
Rev. Matt Thomas
Rev. Frank Varro
Rev. Irv White
15 Years
Rev. Jerome Brimmage
Rev. Peter Camarrano
Rev. Stacy Pever Anzick
Rev. David Banks
Rev. Kristin Bogart
Rev. David Brasher
Rev. Kenneth Green
Rev. Laceye Warner
20 Years
Rev. Malcolm Monroe
Rev. Elijah Stansell
30 Years
Rev. Dan Hannon
Rev. Harry Vein
Rev. Clay Whitaker
35 Years
Rev. Will Reed
Rev. Wesley Welborn

“Ideally,” adds Gail, “our special guests experience refreshment through rest and worship, conversation and quiet, resources and fun.  The Center for Clergy Excellence deeply appreciates the ministry of each and every pastor and REFRESH is one way we have to thank them for their faithful witness."
Personal and ministry assessments offered during REFRESH include the Birkman Method, led by certified proctor Rev. Peter Cammerano, Chapelwood UMC, Lake Jackson.  “The retreats expose participants to Birkman personality and leadership results to encourage them to think about what the next five years will bring them in ministry,” he says. “The Birkman is an opportunity to notice how their personality effects the way they see the world.” Participant Irv White describes his experience saying, “The Birkman assessment read me like a book. I am using it to guide me toward a better understanding and appreciation of myself, my style of leadership, and the stressors that can keep me from being my best, especially to my family."
Retreat Takeaways
In spite of all that was on his TO DO list, Irv appreciates having the opportunity to get away. "Among the takeaways for me was a greater understanding of some of the challenges and rewards of ministry. I gained a greater appreciation of the commitment to ministry made by some of my peers." Rev. David Banks, Greggton UMC agrees, “I loved visiting with other clergy and I now have a new appreciation for the Birkman assessment as a tool, and the many application options.”
"REFRESH is a certainly a gift to clergy from the Annual Conference,” adds Peter.  “The retreats are time for rest, re-creation, and growth.  During the retreats participants gather in ordination reunion groups, share stories of their call to ministry and create a dialogue about things that have 'killed them with delight' during ministry. And, we spend time planning elements of the second retreat during the first."