By Megan K. Mertz
“Commissioned ministers are loved by Christ and by their Synod, and we want them to feel cared for and encouraged,” said Deaconess Tiffany Manor, director of LCMS Life Ministry. This concern — coupled with recent research on church worker wellness — was the impetus for a new series of commissioned minister respite retreats from the LCMS Office of National Mission.
The first retreat was held June 28–30 at the Hilton St. Louis Airport Hotel. Some 25 teachers, principals, directors of Christian education and others from around the country gathered for three days of worship, learning and fellowship — all at no cost to participants, thanks to generous gifts given to the Soldiers of the Cross—Amplified fund during the pandemic.
The retreat featured ample worship opportunities, as well as sessions focused on devotion and meditation, utilizing your pastor as a resource, and conflict resolution. Concordia Plan Services also highlighted wellness resources available through the Concordia Health Plan.
“Concordia Plan Services presented some great information that I am going to share with all the employees here. There are wonderful benefits that are being offered that I never knew about,” said John Price, principal of Redeemer Lutheran School, Pensacola, Fla.
Like many schools in the United States, Redeemer had to quickly switch to remote learning in March 2020. Shortly after they returned to in-person instruction in August 2020, Hurricane Sally barreled through the area, causing another major disruption to their lives as well as $125,000 worth of damage to their building.
“This retreat allowed me to connect with others who also have been in similar situations,” Price said, noting that it helped him put his situation into perspective.
Other participants, including Wendy Morris, principal of Immanuel Lutheran School, Olivette, Mo., commented on how much they enjoyed the worship opportunities. “I’m reframing how I look at worship,” Morris said. “Instead of it being a check-the-box activity I’m expected to model for everybody else [because] I’m a leader, I realized … I get to worship, and there is a huge opportunity for me to grow.”
On the final morning of the retreat, Lindsey Hofman, first-grade teacher at First Lutheran School, Knoxville, Tenn., said that although she had been hesitant to come, she was leaving refreshed and equipped with practical information that she was eager to share. “There are people out there in our church who desire for everyone to know how much they are cared for, not only by our Lord and Savior but also by their brothers and sisters in Christ,” she said. “That’s a wonderful gift.”
A second retreat was held July 19–21, and the LCMS Office of National Mission has partnered with DOXOLOGY: The Lutheran Center for Spiritual Care and Counsel to hold up to 30 additional retreats for commissioned ministers over the next two years. More information on how to register for future retreats will be available in the coming months.
Posted Aug. 2, 2021