Seventh Annual Women’s Retreat
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The annual women’s retreat is an opportunity for the women of St. Thomas’ and their invited guests to step out of their regular routines and spend some time with like-minded women focused on spiritual reflection and spiritual growth. We pause for one weekend early in the year to gather at Pendle Hill, a Quaker retreat center near Swarthmore, where the Quaker values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship support our quest to deepen our relationships with God and with each other.
Most of the weekend takes place inside Brinton House, a lovely old home surrounded by trees, where we can meet and dine and sleep and relax under one roof. The rest of the Pendle Hill campus is also available to us, including the walking trail, bookstore, art studio, and outdoor labyrinth.
The flow of the weekend is designed carefully, with enough structure to allow for spiritual discussion, prayer and worship, silent reflection, creativity, body movement, as well as social time (and plenty of laughter!) around the fireplace. The gifts of our vibrant community become evident, as we lay-women take turns each year to plan the weekend, to lead breakout sessions or worship or singing, and to serve God and each other by lending helping hands during the weekend.
The program varies each year, but always has a scriptural basis, designed to challenge us spiritually, and intended to leave us with a “spiritual take-away” when we return home. The theme of our seventh annual women’s retreat was “Seeking a Life of Meaning” led by the Rev. MaryJo Melberger, our former associate rector (now retired). MaryJo guided us into the Law of Love from the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said, You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. … Just as your heavenly Father is complete in showing love to everyone, so also you must be complete.” (Matt. 5:43-48) She then introduced us to The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life. Our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry calls these seven practices (Turn – Learn – Pray – Worship – Bless – Go – Rest) a framework that outlines the Rule of Life for the Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement. MaryJo challenged each of us to find ways to incorporate one or more of these practices into our daily lives.
Our eighth annual women’s retreat will take place the weekend of January 24-26, 2020, at Pendle Hill. We hope that you will be able to join us then, to nourish and refresh your spirit and strengthen our faith community.
For more information about The Way of Love: Practices for a Jesus-Centered Life, go to https://www.episcopalchurch.org/way-of-love.