DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel was “delighted to plan the “Take Heart!” Respite Retreats initiative at the suggestion of the Office of National Mission,” said Beverly K. Yahnke, Ph.D., DOXOLOGY’s Executive Director for Christian Counsel.
“A respite curriculum was created to refresh pastors in the Word and to invite them to step away for a few days into a quiet retreat setting for worship and study. Pastors participate in advanced training regarding care of the soul and are invited to ‘take heed unto’ themselves, their family and their well-being,” Dr. Yahnke explained. Pastors are “also given an opportunity to examine resilience strategies which can equip them to respond in healthy ways to ongoing challenges.”
“The retreats, sponsored fully by the Office of National Mission, allow pastors to step away for three days and two nights,” said Yahnke. “ONM has funded 15 respite retreats for this calendar year. The only cost to the pastor/parish is the cost of transportation. The early retreats have filled up within days of posting registration availability. Additional retreats are being added for the weeks after Easter and into early summer.” Six respite retreats have been held thus far.
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive and heartening,” Yahnke notes. “Pastors report that the retreats have been precisely what they needed. …They are returning to their families and their parish refreshed and equipped once again to serve... When DOXOLOGY asks pastors what they would tell a friend in ministry, the answer is always, “Go!” Sometimes the answer is, “Go NOW!” The pastors who attend are young and old, newly ordained, and seasoned, faithful men. Each retreat seems to feature an equal number of grads from each of our seminaries.”
Rev. Dr. Tyler Arnold, pastor at Christ Lutheran Church (Platte Woods), serves as a “Take Heart!” retreat chaplain (including leading prayer services, providing spiritual care in conversation or in confession absolution). “These retreats have been a real delight for pastors,” Rev. Dr. Arnold said. “It’s an opportunity to practice self-awareness of being receivers… That has been beneficial and encouraging.”
Pastor David C. Fleming, Executive Director for Spiritual Care, DOXOLOGY notes, “Pastors have found comfort, wisdom, and encouragement in, what Luther called, ‘the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.’ At meals, breaks, and receptions the men are engaged in lively conversation about the presentations, the sermons, and how these apply to their particular situations.”
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