“I scheduled a personal clergy retreat after a hurtful experience with my congregation. After experiencing a few days of silence in the peaceful setting of the Life Enrichment Center, the comfort of the Wesley Suite, and the healing presence of a spiritual director, I was able to return to my work with a renewed sense of peace and excitement about a new direction. When I returned, I felt as if I had truly rested in the arms of Jesus.”
Recent testimony from clergy staying in the newly renovated Wesley Suite at the LEC.
“My 5 day Shade and Fresh Water retreat was a spiritual gift. A wonderful family in St. Augustine offered a beautiful living space– a fully furnished apartment. The quaintness of downtown St. Augustine provided space to do what I would not normally do: rest and relax and breathe. The spiritual direction under a certified director helped me put some pieces back together and clarified a renewed call in my life. God led me beside still waters and restored my soul. ”
I went to this retreat right after I was ordained as a full connectional elder. God allowed for this retreat at this moment of my life because He wanted to renew me for future ministry. Through this retreat, we experienced the Grace and Love of God. Although we know the importance of “rest” and “having a family time”, we were not able to do this while we were in ministry. So we thank God for providing this healing and restful place for our family through the Shade and Fresh Water Ministry.
“After over thirty years of pastoral ministry, and serving as a consultant and retreat leader for other clergy and church staff, I finally made it a priority to take an extended renewal leave for my own personal and spiritual refreshment. As part of this renewal Shade and Fresh Water provided me the space and support to take a four day personal retreat. The time spent in solitude, prayer, reflection and recreation was fantastic! The support I received from Trudy and my pastoral spiritual director was extremely helpful. I hope to carry the rest and reflections gained from this experience back into my pastoral life! I thank God for Shade and Fresh Water!”
Male Clergy in healing space
In every life and especially in the life of pastors there are those dark periods through which we walk. Times of questioning or of spiritual exhaustion. I had come to one of those places in my life. Was I where God wanted me and was I doing His will? How could I know for sure? Was I practicing what I preached? I am enormously grateful to Shade and Fresh Water for giving me a space in which to come apart and explore those questions with a wise spiritual advisor. I was given a wonderful counselor who was willing to ask the difficult questions. The questions that I had not had the courage to ask myself. I came away refreshed, relaxed and with a new sense of direction and purpose. The experience revealed to me the need in my life for a spiritual companion. I have begun to walk with such a person and it has enhanced and enriched my life and my ministry. Wherever persons are their spiritual journey, Shade and Fresh Water can bring a new focus and a clearer vision of the One whom we serve.
With deepest gratitude…
My experience, as a pastor, with Shade and Fresh Water was very positive. I spent seven days in retreat. I was provided the home of a retired clergy family, had a clergy member as companion to converse with on vocational concerns, and a counselor, a United Methodist laywoman. Dr. Trudy Rankin was supportive in setting up the retreat and calling during the week to check on how it was proceeding. This ministry of the UMC, Florida Conference, I recommend highly to clergy and their families, as a means of refreshment and renewal, as well as having time to get perspective at a distance on matters of vocational ministry.
God’s Movement In This Retreat
When I left home on Sunday I was looking forward to a long break from the church. I knew I needed some time to discern the next steps God wanted me to take in fulfilling my call in ordained ministry. I was really tired after fighting some tough battles during the last 3.5 years in a difficult, dying church that is struggling to be reborn. I was beginning to show sings of losing my own spiritual vitality. I could feel myself becoming less patient, less kind, less passionate about serving others. My personal devotional time began to erode. I felt like I needed to step back from the daily rigors of ministry and find some serious spiritual renewal. This is where I was when I began my renewal leave with this 3 day guided retreat with Glenn Galtere arranged through Shade and Fresh Water.
Glenn and Deborah kindly welcomed me into their home to stay as I began my time away needing to get re-centered on the love and presence of Almighty God in my life. There were gone most of the time during the day, leaving me plenty of time for solitude which always helps me get reconnected to God. Glenn and I met twice a day to talk about spiritual exercises that would benefit me and to reflect on where God was leading me during the retreat. I established a rhythm of exercise, prayer, reading, reflection exercises, meal times, and fishing. The broader rhythm included moving between solitude and spiritual companionship. This was very helpful to me.
Since I already felt God moving me in some specific directions, Glenn chose to work with me as a companion on the way more than as one who directed me toward specific areas of the spiritual life. We often shared stories about how God had grown us in ministry. Glenn’s wide array of ministry experiences and his personal faith journey were of great benefit to me. I feel like I discovered another “closet” monk like myself! The exercises he directed me to were great tools God used to heal, to connect, to direct, and to love me. Glenn also presented some valuable resources to help me continue to deepen my journey with God through contemplation and study of the monastic life.
God has moved in many ways during these last three days. Here are some specific ways that I have heard from God:
• I feel more confident that I am hearing God’s call for my next steps in ministry.
• God has helped me to progress in grieving some of the tough losses I have experienced at my present appointment, and God has quieted down my soul so that I am more aware of God’s presence throughout the day.
• God has reignited my sense of wonder, awe, beauty, and mystery by helping me to simply “be with” God.
• At times, I have been overwhelmed by God’s passionate, pursuing, longing love for me and all of creation.
• I have also been led to begin working on my own rule of life. This will add focus to the remainder of my renewal leave.
So how will I continue my journey with God now that I am coming down off of the mountain? Here are some specific directions I want to continue to walk in:
• I will pursue a course of action to fulfill the next steps God is calling me to in ministry.
• I will continue to explore and encounter the lives of the monastic saints.
• I will make use of the spiritual exercises I learn from these monks in my devotions to deepen my walk with God.
• I will continue to prayerfully work out my rule of life, landing on specific practices that God will gracefully use to shape me into a more Christ-like person.
• I will plan 2 retreats a year for solitude, prayer, and reflection, preferably at a monastery.
• Yes, I will also rest, play, and relax during the rest of my renewal leave.
Male clergy person
“Those few days away helped me to begin to re-center on what is really important. This is an ongoing process but for me it is helping me get back to the person that God created me to be and become. I continue to read and reflect on different forms of prayer and centering. I would be interested in the offer of getting away quarterly.” Male clergy person
“Shade and Fresh Water was a wonderful opportunity for me to reconnect with my gifts for ministry as I experienced a time of reflection, renewal and self-care. I was impressed with how this time and space was put together to meet my own individual needs. The companion served as an objective listening ear and offered feedback and support when needed. While my ministry situation is not likely to change in any significant way, I feel freed up and empowered to take better care of my own needs and live out my call in a more authentic way, even if that may eventually mean leaving my current position.” Female clergy person
“It was a blessing to be a companion to a clergy person over the past week. I believe that God worked through our time together. Through the use of listening, prayer, Eucharist, and a time to pray. I believe that the clergy person found a healing time and space in which to reflect on calling, self care and prioritizing. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity.” Companion
“From the moment, I as a pastor, received the brochure from Shade & Fresh Water, I knew I had to take this spiritual journey. Inwardly I was searching to move into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ. Our church assignment had deteriorated to the point that the church was closing, a son was leaving home, we had to make a decision about moving ourselves and to say the least our stress levels were well over the legal limit.
As my spouse and I learned more about Shade & Fresh Water, we were apprehensive as to what the program might include. When we heard from our sponsors we became excited about what our special time would include.
Our sponsors were caring, approachable and understanding of our needs. It was evident that they had been praying for us and continued throughout our time together (They still keep us in their prayers to this day.) They did not stay at our side continuously, but left us to to serious study. They were there whenever needed to direct, mentor and pray with us.
When we began, the daily prayers seemed like they would be grueling, but as we progressed, we looked forward to our time together in praising the Lord and seeking His guidance. We would suggest if at all possible if a pastor is to attend a retreat that if the pastor is married that the spouse attend because we grew closer each day.
The inward directed questions were a blessing. Our spirits had grown very weary from all our pressures as a pastoral family and as we focused inwardly on our calling, we were truly enlightened. We needed this kind of inward focus on both our lives.
We came from our time straightened in our commitment to God and each other. Thank you for the opportunity to walk the path in shade and fresh water of the Spirit.”
“Thank you for the gift of a healing space through Shade and Fresh Water. As you know, this was my first experience in doing a personal mental health/spiritual retreat and I did not know what to expect. The person who companioned me was there for me, if I needed her, but she also gave me lots of space for my own interests and down time. We connected well and I felt she was a very good “match” for me. During my time away, I was able to renew my mind, body and spirit free from the pressures of day to day responsibilities that life demands from all of us. I honestly believe that I could not have done this “at home.” There are just too many things that demand attention and pull you away, no matter how hard you try not to let outside things interfere. The value of this kind of quality personal time cannot be measured. I feel so fortunate that this ministry was made available to me. Thank you!”
“This year, thanks to the Florida Conference, I was gifted with an oasis of quiet and companionship away from the beloved people I serve as servant pastor. I write this on Sunday,…as I sit in the chair of the little “sanctuary”–guest house–,in which I have been singing, reading, and praying, as well as seeking clarity that is often obscured by the joyful duties of pastoral ministry. Jesus and Christ within have been with me in Love this week, and the sense of this revitalized Love Affair with our Maker has arisen from the coming together of Place, Time, and Companion. Regarding Place, the host family has been gracious and respectful, and the site beams with the beauties and glorious radiance of God-in-Nature. The guest house is on a hill above a lake, and the wind off the lake, as well as the chorus of frogs and choir of bird song, has been as the Voice of God to the soul. Regarding Time, I was ripened to be ready to look honestly through struggles regarding the context I serve in and, also, my own self. The Companion came daily, providing wise listening and gentle guidance; through his maturity and vast pastoral experience, he nudged me toward seeing things in an advantageous way. Each day I sensed our eating together, talking, and serving the Holy Communion deepened our loving union and grew a growing respect in my heart for him. I encourage the Florida Conference to continue to support fully this work of Shade and Fresh Water. I, likewise, after doing Silent Retreat work for five years, urge that pastors be offered time away annually for retreat, beyond the time presently given them for vacation, continuing education…Thanks. “