Sovereign Grace Connections Retreat, WI
By Sarah Grace Williams
Amidst the hubbub and traffic of Wisconsin, resting in a small town lay a shelter. A place to go when one seeks to rest and recover for a time from the cares of the world. It was to this place of sanctuary that a small group of Christians set their faces.
The majority arrived at varying times on Thursday and little did they know what was in store for them during this third Sovereign Grace Connections Retreat. Some were afraid, some excited, but none could know for sure how the weekend would end. After a late dinner and brief introductions, the evening began by various ice breaker games and not a few laughs.
Friday dawned a little chillier than many retreat attendees had planned, but the day held two encouraging messages on the omniscience of Christ, clearing a hiking trail as a thanks to our hosts, a lumberjack show, an extended time for fellowship, a traditional hobo dinner, and a riveting auction using a currency made up of legumes, made all the more animated by the famed auctioneer, Catherine Knapp. The evening closed with some beautiful singing and fellowship around a glowing campfire.
Saturday, once again held a chilly air, but the growing love this new family had for one another was far from cold. In the opinion of one retreat veteran, “Something that stood out was how fast everyone picked up since the last retreat and how quickly new friends were made.”
An opinion echoed by another attendee, “We literally just absorb people into our group and it becomes one big family reunion with some people you’ve never even met.” After a quick breakfast, the day began with another session, followed by a scenic pontoon ride on Tomahawk Lake.
After lunch, a first aid/CPR class was taught by Lisa White and Anna Knapp. The final sermon of the weekend was followed snacks, as the group, taught by Emily Hayes, began a favorite activity and learned a number of folk dances. With the sun receding, the group once again congregated around an open fire to cook hotdogs and fellowship. In the words of one lady, “For me, the fellowship with my brothers and sisters was my favorite aspect, and my favorite moments were sitting around the fire, watching the shooting stars.”
Sunday proved warmer, and after a later breakfast eaten at church, the group listened to a Sunday School taught by Mr. Keith White and a sermon by Curtis Knapp on the Lord’s Prayer. After morning services, the entire church enjoyed lunch at a park, followed by continued folk dancing, fellowship and games. As the evening enveloped the day in a cloak of darkness, the retreat attendees retired for the last time to the favorite spot at the fire. Loathe to leave the companionship of the group on this final night, members of the retreat stayed late, fellowshipping, working through problems, facing hard questions and growing deeper in their understanding of God.
Monday morning held a tinge of sadness in the air, sweetened with encouragement. Late breakfast and a short exhortation to love one another started the morning, and pieces of this new family began to break off to return to their homes and lives. But goodbye is not the term that the writer would designate for this parting. Rather, reflecting the phrase of the final hymn sung, till we meet, till we meet, till we meet at Jesus’ feet.
In conclusion, a moment can last for a lifetime, cherished in the memories of the one who experienced it. The moments compiled in 5 days are numerous and some of those I trust will last for life. Some are sad, many are joyful, some thought provoking, and others leaving only the trail of gratefulness over getting the chance to meet so many like minded believers.
As the last day arrived, and we parted from the new brothers and sisters in Christ we didn’t know existed but a few days before, there was a certain reticence to leave such sweet fellowship behind. However, the challenging conversations and the encouragement left a strengthened desire for a deeper knowledge of our Lord and Savior. None could have known how the retreat would end, but I think it safe to say none would have changed it if they could have.