From April 19 – April 21, San Antonio hosted over 140 pastors, wives, and presenters for the sixth annual Celebration of Ministry retreats sponsored by Grow in Grace, the institute for pastoral growth at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. These retreats intend to build relationships with ministry peers, and offer encouragement through worship, Bible studies, and other workshops and presentations.
The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas hosts this celebration every year, but only recently has it hosted three retreats running simultaneously. The three retreats included pastors and their wives celebrating three, 10, and 25 years since WLS graduation.
A major part of each retreat is the four-part Bible studies. The Begun in Grace attendees (three years since graduation) were enriched in God’s Word through a study entitled Lessons at the Burning Bush (with reference to 1 & 2 Timothy) led by Pastor Mark Paustian. The additional two retreats, Renewed in Grace (those celebrating 10 years from graduation) and Finishing Well in Grace (those celebrating 25 years from graduation), were enriched through their own study in the Word. Seminary Professor Rich Gurgel led the 10 year group in a study of Philippians while Martin Luther College President Mark Zarling led the 25 year group in a study of 1 Peter. In addition to these class-specific bible studies, those attending the 10 and 25 year milestones chose between various workshops to attend as pastors, wives, or couples.
Each year, the workshops receive very high praise from those in attendance. Some of the workshop choices included themes such as: time management, caring for others and yourself, focusing on your own gifts, and financial challenges and opportunities. Though these workshops and Bible studies are a key part of the retreats, fellowship with classmates, worship services and a beautiful location also play a part in the experience. Renewed in Grace attendee, Pastor Brian Hackmann shares, “The Celebration of Ministry retreat was a great experience. My wife and I looked forward to this opportunity for some time and I’m sure we’ll look fondly back for some time to come. Reconnecting with classmates is great. Reconnecting and recharging for future ministry is invaluable. Reconnecting with Jesus through Word and Sacrament was a forever blessing.”
When Grow in Grace initially began the Celebration of Ministry retreats, only pastors and wives celebrating 10 years from graduation were in attendance. In more recent years, the event has extended invitations to pastors and wives celebrating three years and 25 years since graduation. With continued success, Grow is Grace is excited to announce that beginning in 2018, a fourth retreat will also be added to the celebration! This fourth retreat will be held for pastors and wives celebrating 35 years since graduation. The 2018 retreats are set to take place in San Antonio from April 18 – April 20, 2018.
To the graduating classes of 1983, 1993, 2008, and 2015, make sure to check your mailboxes in May for your save the date to your Celebration of Ministry retreat. Hope to see you there!