FRUITLAND PARK – United Methodist Women across Florida will have a special opportunity to “press pause from the day-to-day routine’’ during a weekend retreat Sept. 7–9 at the conference Life Enrichment Center.
Rev. Vidalis Lopez, associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Coral Gables, will lead the retreat around the theme of Sacred Spaces.
|Rev. Vidalis Lopez|
“We try not to make it too structured, so that attendees have time to enjoy relaxing on Lake Griffin and the center’s grounds,” Florida UMW President Kay Roach said. “This retreat has provided an escape for many women who come year after year.”
Some of the activities planned include craft classes, line dancing, a talent show, Bible study and re-connecting.
The event begins on Friday evening with a gathering and dinner and closes on Sunday after communion and lunch. Everything is included in the price of the retreat, and Roach said one scholarship per district is available.
Lopez described her own need for this kind of retreat.
“Where does the time go? Where has the time gone? Or, what time, there isn’t any? Many of us have expressed these questions. I have,” she said. “Often, these questions reveal a sense of wishful thinking, frustration, regret or even a loss.
“As real and true as that may be, what is unwaveringly true is that God creates time to draw us closer to a life-giving relationship. That is sacred. As created beings, every person is granted a space in the world. God welcomes each of us to a space to reconsider, recharge and be restored,” she said.
The retreat also will be an opportunity for young women to enjoy the sacred spaces and curriculum outlined by the national UMW organization. Roach said there will be female speakers and female clergy who support UMW and provide a path to spiritual renewal.
Kenya Monroe, a member of Bay Hope UMC, will be leading the young women for the first time. Her last name is a familiar one in the Florida Conference. Her aunt, Paulette Monroe, has been conference lay leader since 2016, and her uncle is retired clergyman and district superintendent Walter Monroe.
She grew up helping her aunt with UMW work during summers. She also enjoyed being a children’s aid at the School of Christian Mission.
The youth retreat attendees she expects will be as young as elementary students up to rising high school freshmen. Monroe plans to work from the Sacred Spaces theme and focus on the physical, natural space of the center, including a prayer room.
Emphasis on the body will include the creation of a spa day, with a couple of hours devoted to concocting scented sugar scrubs and body oil.
|The "Sacred Spaces" at the retreat will provide a chance to relax, to focus on spiritual growth and to build relationships with their fellow sisters in Christ.|
The mental component will include prayer and the creation of a journal. More physical facets will make use of a maze at the camp setting and a scavenger hunt.
Monroe said the retreat is a way to be in mission.
“Mission is wherever you are and the UMW allows us to learn through mission studies and social action,” she said. “It offers a way of helping women and children.”
Lopez said she is “humbled and deeply grateful to the UMW leadership team for inviting me to share the good news with other women.”
She also looks forward to benefiting personally from the time away to connect with the spirit.
“I need a safe space to be with God and with my peers. Perhaps others can resonate with this. The time has come,” she said.
“During the weekend retreat, we press pause from the day-to-day, disengaging from the routine, and engage with other women as sisters in Christ and connect (or live into) a sacred space with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
For more information or to sign up, go to: http://www.flconfumw.org
Ongoing UMW activities include two new mission studies each year, United Methodist missionary conferences throughout the U.S. and spiritual growth studies.
Roach said the UMW national website has a wealth of resources, including an online UMW newsletter (weekly e-newsletters), and response magazine also offers information about the organization.
To find out more about the activities and principles of UMW, visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org
—Anne Dukes is a freelance writer based in Atlanta.