The Second Sovereign Grace Connections Retreat - Mississippi
By Caroline Pokorny
In the Spring of 2021, a small gathering of believers assembled in Duck Hill, MS to share a weekend of spiritual encouragement and fellowship. The second Sovereign Grace Connections Retreat (SGCR) was held from Thursday, March 18-22. About 30 attendees filtered in and out of the cozy retreat center to enjoy a whirl of activity.
On Friday, we learned methods of survival style fire-starting and a few other survival techniques. After the instructional demonstration, everyone was placed on a team and given survival-savvy supplies. Then, the task of each group was to build a shelter, start a fire, and prepare pond water by boiling and straining it. One participant, CJ, said, “My favorite of the events had to be the team building exercises we experienced, especially the primitive fire making and shelter building techniques.”
Later on Friday, teams enjoyed an exciting competition that consisted of navigating an intricate obstacle course all while carting the previous activity’s survival supplies. The full day was ended by a delicious dinner (prepared by Mrs. Hayes—a wonderful chef!), a sermon of exhortation, and later a folk dance.
Throughout Saturday morning, we learned practical emergency medical care and also some self-defense techniques of Krav Maga. These activities were a big hit with everyone. Jacob said, “The icing on the cake for me was getting to learn some Krav Maga and the training we received about how to use a tourniquet.”
Another favorite team-building activity of the weekend was a competitive round of dessert making. Yes, you read that right. Each team was given a mysterious box filled with an odd assortment of ingredients and then charged with the task of creating a delicious dessert. What do you think about some pineapple sour gummy bear glaze?
The Biblical theme of the retreat was Evangelism during Difficult Times. Pastor Hayes offered four messages about the importance of proclaiming the Gospel to the world, because “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Rom. 10:17). He also discussed various tactics of apologetics, Calvinism, Hyper-Calvinism and Arminianism. He encouraged the group to study well, practice proclaiming the truth and trust God to give the increase.
Madelyn shared: “The retreat was a wonderful experience because it was a lot of people around my age who had similar questions as myself. We were old enough that politics and religion are a normal topic with friends and many of us appreciate the messages on how to properly discuss the Bible in a Godly way.”
For Jacob, who was raised Southern Baptist, SGCR offered “the opportunity to learn about the Sovereign Grace Baptists. I’m glad I was able to spend time with believers in a ‘church camp-like’ environment. Hanging out and getting to know Reformed Christians from a different branch of the Body was a true blessing!”
Each evening, after dinner and a sermon, we gathered around the campfire for storytelling, singing, and staying up late with the stars. Singing together around the bonfire was always a group favorite. Sunday evening’s gathering around the fire was a special time in which everyone was invited to share his or her testimony. This was an opportunity to mention prayer requests, pray together and sing hymns—it was a memorable event. C.J. shared that, “The time of fellowship was sweet, and the campfire testimonies of God’s grace were heart melting moments.”
Cara remarked, “I loved every bit of it…my favorite parts were visiting, dancing, survival activities and [the] sermons.”