More than a decade ago, Wyndham Shaw and a few others decided to focus on raising up elders throughout our fellowship of churches. Once elderships were appointed, they realized the elderships needed to have ligament connections throughout God's kingdom, not just within their own churches.
The idea was born to host a yearly Elders and Wives Retreat for the Northeast US. As word spread, interest grew and more elderships wanted to be part of this gathering, what started as a small group of elders has grown to a group of over 100 that now includes elder candidates along with their wives.
Our 2017 retreat included participants from Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey, and Lagos, Nigeria. We were hosted by the Pioneer Valley Church of Christ in Springfield, Massachusetts. This was the largest attendance since the inception of this retreat. After dinner, on Friday evening, the Pioneer Valley Worship Team lead a worship time. The singing filled the room as we worshipped our living God together.
Saturday morning kicked off with the feature speakers, Al and Gloria Baird, reminding us to remember what God has done. They shared their personal stories as followers of Jesus and the many lessons they learned. Afterwards, we split into small groups to share our own stories and some ways we have seen God work in our own lives. There was much laughter and even some tears being shed, as we recalled what God has done in our lives.
The afternoon session began with Val Koha challenging us to be Kingdom Elderships. The call was not only to shepherd our local churches but to deepen our awareness of the needs around the globe. Koinonia (fellowship with God and one another) needed to be the driving motivation.
Afterwards, Al and Gloria addressed the men and women separately. Both shared their hopes, concerns and needs they sense in God's kingdom at this hour.
Sunday morning, the elders and their wives met to worship together. Newlyweds Carl and Lori Christensen bravely shared the painful experienced of losing a spouse. Through it all, they sensed the hand of God comforting, protecting and guiding them.
Johnny Rivera, one of the newly appointed elders closed out with a brilliant sermon titled, "Don't Forget to Remember." Johnny called us to remember who we are, remember to empathize with others and remember to keep God's perspective.
The weekend was exactly what was needed. An opportunity to get away, worship God, connect with friends, make new ones and to remember the Lord. The decision was made to send out monthly reminders of our weekend together. November 2-4, 2018 can't come quickly enough.