Update – Cultivating Enough in the Care of Clergy (October, 2020)

 How can 11 Presbyterian pastors be in 11 different places but still altogether at the same time?  In this day of COVID and Zoom, it’s no surprise that clergy members of the Cultivating Enough in the Care of Clergy initiative, a Lilly funded grant, found a way to meet with one another.  We are all adapting to online meetings, which lends itself to creative ways to be apart and yet together.

October 9-11, the presbytery’s initiative held a virtual retreat, with pastors reserving separate hotels, conference centers, or Airbnb’s to get away while we met together.  With differing views of the Atlantic Ocean, Bucks County, New York City, or even a pig farm, the weekend commenced with a time of checking in and worship on Friday night.  The grant’s program director, Larissa Kwong Abazia and program support Sarah Colwill, were joined by Executive Presbyter Ruth Santana-Grace and Associate Presbyter Greg Klimovitz to begin the retreat.

Saturday’s keynote speaker was storyteller, Alexus Rhone, who led participants in a workshop to encourage storytelling, with the basis that we all have a story worth sharing.  Rhone spoke from a place of vulnerability and courage as she shared her own stories of failure, and learning lessons about being enough.  Saturday afternoon provided the opportunity for each pastor to meet via Zoom with a Spiritual Director or coach.  The evening held an optional dinner and game night, so folks had the choice to be online with others, or spend time on their own.  Sunday morning concluded our time together, with a worship service including communion.

While unsure of how an online retreat could measure up to those in-person gatherings many know and love, the weekend surpassed expectations.  One pastor was so grateful for the time to disconnect from the stress of this season and spend time “in my cave” as he took a break from so many responsibilities.  Another pastor reflected upon this gift of stepping away, claiming, “I couldn’t believe the difference it made in my ability to take deep breaths and enjoy the space.”  In the midst of trying times, the gift of this time proved to be a Godsend, as these pastors were refreshed and renewed by the Spirit’s presence as they were together apart, able to present with our ever-present God.