For the first time in more than a decade, Moravian pastors from the Northern and Southern Provinces came together for three days of learning, relaxation, worship and spiritual refreshment.
In late May, more than 60 active and retired Moravian clergy from congregations in the United States and Canada gathered on the campus of Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, Va., for the event.
Planned by an interprovincial team of pastors including Nola Knouse, Rebecca Craver, Keith Harke, Tony Hayworth and Russ Williams, the retreat was designed to bring clergy from both Provinces together to learn from each other, discuss issues and best practices and spend time worshiping, learning and relaxing together.
The Rev. Dr. Will Willimon served as the keynote speaker for the clergy retreat. Dr. Willimon is a professor at the Divinity School of Duke University in North Carolina. He is author, speaker and retired bishop of the United Methodist Church and was awarded an honorary degree from Moravian Theological Seminary.
During his three presentation sessions, Dr. Willimon discussed the issues and challenges facing congregational leaders in today’s church. He shared thoughts and ideas on the changing role from pastors as caregivers to leaders of transformational change. He also discussed ways for pastors to balance their pastoral and personal lives.
In other sessions, clergy members of the Northern and Southern Province Provincial Elders’ Conferences answered questions from attendees. Pastors learned about changes in curriculum at Moravian Theological Seminary, spoke with representatives from interprovincial agencies and met in small group sessions to talk over a wide variety of issues.
Pastors were also invited to share some of the interesting things going on in their corners of the Moravian world. They discussed efforts in their communities, ecumenical efforts working to help those in need and ways they’ve worked to build congregations.
The clergy retreat featured music from across the Moravian spectrum. Traditional hymns, guitar-led praise songs and even old-time spirituals enhanced worship times, while impromptu “jam” sessions for guitars and horns gave the retreat a spontaneous flair.
And, of course, pastors had an opportunity to relax with their fellow clergy. Golf outings, hiking in the Virginia mountains, quiet conversation and other recreation provided an element of fun and fellowship.
At the close of the retreat, clergy packed up for home, with a promise to make sure another 14 years doesn’t go by until the next interprovincial clergy retreat.