“I returned to my study of Moravian history in choosing the theme and my thoughts centered on Lukas of Prague and the essentials of Christian faith, the last three representing what humans are called to do have: faith, love and hope,” said Judy.
The ideas came easily, according to Tamra Thomas, spiritual life chair for the Provincial Women’s Board and member of Home Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., running agricultural motifs through the events to create a spiritual experience.
Along with the morning worship and evening vespers services, the women enjoyed a range of activities through the discussions on faith, love and hope, including the making of bead bracelets, called, “The Gospel According to Beads,” and helping Laurel Ridge prepare for summer by working in the gardens. The women received copies of Blum’s Farmer’s and Planter’s Almanac and packets of flower seeds to carry the theme home for their own personal gardens.
First time visitors were recognized Friday night, again using nature in the form of lady bugs.
“I included Lady Bugs (lapel pins) to identify first time participants,” Thomas said. “Even at meal time the menu hinted of our theme with the Lady Bug appetizer (crackers topped with a ‘lady bug’ made creatively from vegetables), Donut Seed snacks, and the Dirt Cake with gummy worms dessert.”
A retreat for fellowship
Of course, one of the main goals of the retreat is fellowship, accomplished through group work and free time when the ladies could relax by the fireplace in the lobby of Higgins Lodge.
“It was my desire at the Spiritual Life Retreat that Christian women could cultivate a friendship garden with their Moravian sisters in the Southern Province by sowing seeds of faith, love and hope. I pray these heirloom seeds will continue to be passed on to bloom in the hearts of others,” Thomas said.
Patricia Tucker, a member of Good Shepherd Moravian Church in Kernersville, N.C., said that “the best part was seeing old friends and meeting new ones.”
Tucker shared her musical talent as she and Donna Crook, also a member of Good Shepherd, provided music on guitar and ukulele while others made Gospel According to Beads bracelets. The bracelets are made from different colored and shaped beads that represent parts of the Gospel story, such as green and blue for creation, wooden beads to represent Jesus being a carpenter, and a blue or clear bead to represent the water of baptism.
However, the quality of the weekend as a whole was shown in the fact that different parts of the retreat were mentioned as favorites. Many, including Knopf, named the skits, created by the women to show what a particular female from the Bible — Mary Magdalene, Mary, Mother of Jesus, and the famous duo of Mary and Margaret — would be like today. Knopf said she was pleased at the women’s willingness to participate.
“The skits were the most fun part of the weekend for me because they took basically very bland and uninteresting descriptions of these women, ‘flat line’ descriptions, and brought these women to life, made them into people we can love,” said Judy, adding she found the experience “cathartic” as the women got to laugh, cry and come closer to each other working on the project.
The Spirit moved some to tell personal stories. Donna Tesh, a member of Christ Moravian Church in Winston-Salem, told the women of how she had always felt the call to mission work, but had never taken the final step. Now her son has decided to become a missionary and she has realized that was God’s plan the whole time.
“I was really moved when Donna told the story about her missionary son and the preparation that God had provided her with,” said Cindy Lamb, member of Fries Memorial Moravian Church. “Waiting for the Lord’s time is something that I constantly struggle with, but when it happens there is usually awe, understanding, gladness and thankfulness (things that you did not even know that you needed at the time).”
Others said being in a religious service at Laurel Ridge was a blessing.
“For me it was the Sunday Morning Service with the beautiful morning, the music, Holy Communion, and hearing God’s word,” said Betty King, a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem. “I felt our Lord’s presence all around me. It was very moving. What a wonderful way to start my day.”
Dee Henry is a member of New Philadelphia Moravian Church in Winston-Salem. You can learn more about the Southern Province Provincial Women’s Board by visiting www.mcsp.org.