Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Part of a Larger Vision: Student Ministries Retreat 2012

By Rebekah Connell ’15

Everyone loves the GCSM Retreat—that’s what Gordon’s ministry directors say about their annual jaunt to Camp Brookwoods in New Hampshire. “It affords us the opportunity to really pour into our students in a way that is impossible in the hustle and bustle of campus life,” says Laurie Truschel, director of student ministries.

Earlier this month, over 60 students who will be leading campus ministries this year rode buses up to Lake Winnipisaukee for three days of fellowship, training, and Glow-in-the-Dark Steal the Bacon. (That last part was optional.) Amid large group sessions, messages from directors, worship services, prayer, and adventures in the great outdoors, students gained a clearer vision for their roles as leaders and for the purpose of ministry at Gordon. The first night at camp, Dr. Greg Carmer offered a message on the theme of “Head, Heart, and Hands.” Through this framework, Dr. Carmer guided students toward “keeping everything together in our pursuit of God.” He emphasized connectivity with God, with each other, and within oneself.

As numerous Gordon students could testify, there is never a retreat in the woods without a good measure of fun and relaxation. Early morning hikes, late night campfires, and kayaking on Lake Winnipisaukee peppered the weekend of spiritual immersion. Group meals in the camp’s elegant dining hall gave faculty, directors and student leaders a chance to get to know one another on a more personal level. “My favorite part of the retreat is just relaxing with our leaders: laughing at meals, worshipping beside them, singing around the campfire, and listening to their hopes for the ministries they will be leading,” says Truschel.

The students, too, found these times of fellowship alongside faculty and staff to be valuable. “On Saturday night everyone was praying for each other’s concerns about the upcoming year,” recalled Ben Boossarangsi, a leader of the Catacombs worship team. “It was a powerful reminder that though we all have separate ministries that we tend to get wrapped up in, we are part of a larger vision.”

The last morning of the retreat provided everyone with more than an hour of silent solitude, in addition to the memorable Commissioning Service overlooking the lake. “The setting is so beautiful—a great reminder of the majestic God we serve,” says Laura Carmer, director of missions and service learning. “This is a rich time for laying our work before that same God and asking him for the wisdom and grace to fulfill our roles faithfully.”

Abram Kielsmeier-Jones, director of Christian life and worship, also testified to the success of the retreat. “We received multiple comments about how refreshed our ministry leaders felt as a result of this retreat.”

Some of the most common favorite moments on the retreat? The times of prayer and quiet reflection—something busy college students have precious little time for. “The retreat was a great way to get me mentally and spiritually prepared to lead,” said Trey Walsh, who will be leading a spiritual life group. “To have time to clear my mind in order to better grasp the presence of God was very powerful.”

Photo: GCSM Retreat group at Camp Brookwoods in New Hampshire.

Rebekah Connell ’15 is an English major from New York and student writer for the Office of College Communications.

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