From lonely places
BLACK RIVER FALLS, Wis. — When the crowds that came to hear Jesus became overwhelming, he often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.
But today, preachers sometimes need to withdraw from lonely places and find a crowd with whom to pray.
For 45 years, that is exactly what has happened at the Midwest Preachers Retreat at Wisconsin Christian Youth Camp.
Ministers at small congregations in remote locations may meet face to face with colleagues only once a month, if that often.
A retreat such as this one brings in dynamic speakers to rekindle the spirit and provides opportunities for sharing problems and solutions, as well as simply enjoying good, old-fashioned fellowship.
The recent retreat drew 95 ministers, elders and some spouses from 50 congregations in 12 states.
“It gets very discouraging when you are in a small church with small response,” said Dave Grant, who preaches for the Escanaba, Mich., church, a 60-member congregation in the Upper Peninsula.
“You need to be reminded that you are not alone,” said Grant, Escanaba’s minister for 15 years. “You need breaks where you are fed. At this retreat we are getting fed with resources and sermon ideas. We need that.”
Way down south from Escanaba is Rosholt, in central Wisconsin, where Justin Mooney has preached for three years.
“At Rosholt I don’t have elders or fellow ministers working alongside me,” Mooney said. “This gathering is very beneficial because I meet ministry peers with whom I can share the joys and challenges of our work, and I can bounce ideas off of them.”
Over in Quincy, Ill., James Riley has been preaching for about five years.
“You have people to talk about things that you can’t talk about at home,” said Riley, who relishes the opportunity to learn from experienced church leaders. “They encourage you, give you hope, give you a new way of looking at problems.”
WISCONSIN CHRISTIAN YOUTH CAMP operates on a camp site known as Fallhall Glen near Black River Falls, Wis. The site hosts eight weeks of summer youth camp and a five-day, all-ages retreat in June. Congregational retreats are conducted most weekends from May through September. For more information, see www.wcyc.org.
Tim Davis and Stan Little enjoy time by the falls that run through camp.