“This was a marvelous opportunity for me to reconnect with Christ. I heard the Lord’s voice speaking to me the entire day.” This response from a pastor reflects the overall experience of others who attended one of three soul-care retreats designed specifically for pastors.
The pilot Made New retreats were co-sponsored by Education & Clergy Development (ECD) and Wesleyan Publishing House (WPH). Held in Marion, Ind., Chambers, N.Y., and Columbus, Ohio, the purpose of the retreats was to focus on cultivating the pastor’s own walk with Christ. Tending to the overall well-being of pastors is a central emphasis of ECD, and WPH has published authors who have an interest in the care of pastors. These common denominators brought the two divisions together to create this unique initiative.
It is commonly understood that the spiritual vitality of the pastor is foundational for the overall well-being of the Church. However, the spiritual life and health of pastors has often been assumed. Now it is receiving direct attention. Retreat speakers included Lenny Luchetti (Wesley Seminary), who spoke on cultivating often overlooked strategies for clergy self-care; Steve DeNeff (pastor, College Wesleyan Church in Marion, Ind.), who challenged pastors to identify specific areas of personal crises that can be opportunities for God’s deeper work; and Thad Barnum (bishop, North American Anglican Church), who addressed the necessity of having at least one special friend who can speak to the spiritual life of the pastor. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon, General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, spoke at the Marion, Ind., retreat encouraging pastors to forgive those who have hurt them in the past.
The reviews by pastors have been very positive, giving clear indication that tending to the hearts and souls of pastors is greatly desired.
“We have been sensing an acute need to tend to the overall well-being of the pastor’s personal life,” said David Higle, director of clergy care. “These retreats are just the start of what we pray will be meaningful experiences for pastors to renew their own walk with Christ and experience holistic healing, where needed, and renewal for a lifetime of ministry.”