First spiritual formation retreat receives high marks

Krista Armstrong – Staff Writer

5 retreat

Photo by Melissa Fraley: Sophomore Amber Strickler spends a few moments in quiet prayer at the first spiritual retreat.

Anchorage, the first of this year’s new spiritual retreats, exceeded expectations for MVNU’s students and spiritual leaders.

The event set the retreats off to a good start, said Kendra Lambert, assistant to the chaplain for small group ministries.

“We have heard overwhelming feedback saying that it was a good experience,” Lambert said.

Senior Melissa Fraley, a spiritual mentor this year, said the turnout was great. The retreat, which took place at Lakeholm Church of the Nazarene the last weekend of September, was attended by 63 students, including 21 student mentors.

The atmosphere was relaxed, and “everyone there was open to sharing their stories and getting to know people,” Fraley said.

The event began on a Friday night with students checking in, splitting into small groups and playing a few games designed to help them get to know each other.

The games were followed by a time of corporate worship, and a chance for students to share their testimonies.

After that, students were allowed to partake in any of a number of different activities set up around the church. Different rooms in the building were designated for practicing spiritual disciplines, such as silence, prayer, journaling, and art.

The students spent most of the evening sharing their stories with each other and finding things in common with people they had never taken the time to talk to before.

Students said the format helped them connect with a variety of people with whom they might not ordinarily interact.

“I got to know a lot of new people,” sophomore Naomi Kreider said.

Informal snack and game rooms also were set up where students could socialize.

“We didn’t want it to be too structured,” Lambert said. “You can plan and organize an event as much as you want, but it really comes down to praying and allowing God to move how He’s going to move.”

Students were given time to sleep from about midnight to 8:30 a.m. Breakfast was followed by a time of corporate prayer and reflection.

At the end of the retreat, students gathered in small groups to discuss God’s presence in their lives and reflect on what they wanted to take away from the experience. Students were released to go back to campus at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday morning.

Fraley said the event helped renew her commitment to living a God-centered life.

“I can’t wait to see how God will continue to work through all our lives,” she said.

Anchorage was the first of four spiritual retreats scheduled throughout the school year. Two retreats will be offered each semester. Each retreat is worth three chapel credits.

The retreats will follow varying formats and will be held at different local churches in Mount Vernon. The next retreat will be overnight on Nov. 14, beginning at 8 p.m., at First Church of the Nazarene.

Campus ministries will email students with more information closer to the retreat date.