Elders’ Retreat Sparks Rejuvenation

Date Posted: 2/25/2016

Attendees hearing Dr. Jack Levison, featured speaker and professor of Biblical Hebrew/Old Testament Interpretation at Perkins, share personal highlights from the event.
Vibrant churches need vibrant leaders that genuinely inspire congregational transformation from within. About 140 elders and clergy experienced life-giving encouragement at the February Elders’ Retreat at Lakeview, which they can pass along to their ministry leaders in the weeks to follow. Within the peaceful “Lakeview Laboratory,” guest speaker Jack Levinson, invigorated the group with insight from his book, 40 Days with the Holy Spirit. His passion for this topic is evident in his portfolio of books and blog posts with The Huffington Post and other website interactions.
During their time together, participants elected Rev. Todd Jordan, Strawbridge UMC, as the new chair of the Order of Elders. They also shared worship services together and enjoyed several ice cream fellowships and rejuvenating free time.
God Moments
Highlights for Rev. Jon Stouffer, FUMC Brenham included getting to know and learn with Jack Levison. ”Jack is engaging, attentive to each and every conversation, as well as a top scholar in original Biblical languages,” notes Jon. “Jack is one of the best and most practical teachers I've learned from in a long time, both for the arm-chair theologian and for the person-in-the-pew!”
He also responded to the much needed reminder in Lent to stop, listen, and breathe in the breath of life that is the Spirit-Breath. Jon also appreciates the mentoring that retreats offer in the “connection.” Adds Jon, “We are a product of those who mentored us and are invited to share with others what we have received. The Miracle of Multiplication: that if one person mentored another for six months and then those two mentored two others for six months, and so-on, in10 years there would be a total of 1,048,576 who have been involved in a six-month mentoring relationship.”
Jon adds, “The Leadership Team and staff at Lakeview welcomed us with such grace and peace providing the highest quality of hospitality.  As sisters and brothers in Christ, we were at ease with one another from the moment we arrived on campus, through every meal in the cafeteria, every time of learning and worship in Bagley Hall, and in our free time everywhere we spent time together. For me, our time together reflected well what the Psalmist wrote in Psalms 133:1, How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!” 
Attendees felt renewed from the inside out. “Feeding our spirit through the word of God is imperative in becoming our best,” notes Rev. Michelle Hall, Christ UMC Sugar Land, “and doing it in community is all the more fun - the Holy Spirit—what an inspiring topic! My peers and I felt informed and instructed as we gathered to support and encourage one another in living out our response to God's call.”   
Rev. Christie Hale, Mission Bend UMC, shares, “I carved time out to attend this year because my cup was empty and I needed a refill. Jack Levison was dynamic and life giving. He gave me easy tools to use as soon as I got back to life in the real world.”   
Rev. Mike Lindstrom, FUMC, Conroe offered, “I loved two things about the retreat, well, three really. One, Matt Neely is a gifted worship leader and I was lifted up. Two, Jack Levison is a wonderfully unique speaker combining deep spirituality with a dynamic presentation. Finally, I am overwhelmed by the Spirit of God in the pastors I know and those I have been meeting. Their presence in that place was good for my soul.”
Rev, Nathan Bledsoe, St. Peter’s UMC Katy echoes that perspective. “I really value the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with my clergy colleagues at places like Elder's Retreat. Being able to do that away from our ministry settings helps us to be more fully present, authentic, and to have fun, too!”