Fall Pastors’ Retreat Reflections

The theme at EMCC’s Pastors’ Retreats was “Press Pause.” Our thanks to the following pastors for taking time to reflect on what their retreat experience meant to them: Sam Devine, Albright, Winnipeg, MB; Graham Gaessler, Faith, Wasaga Beach, ON; Heinz Janzen, New Life, Stony Plain, AB; Conrad Neudorf, Bear Creek, Surrey, BC; Sunday Olukoju, Immanuel, Winnipeg, MB; and Nathan Schultz, Upper Thames, Mitchell, ON. 

What was the atmosphere like at the retreat this year?

It was a time of fellowship and encouragement. (Sam Devine, MB)

It was a time of reconnecting. So good to be together. In person is ‘less-business-y.’ (Graham Gaessler, ON)

For me, personally, it refreshed my spirit. (Heinz Janzen, AB)

It was great, friendly, and restful. (Sunday Olukoju, MB)

People were happy to see each other. It was nice to walk into a full room. I took our new Associate Pastor, Brian Smith. He started just the day before the retreat. (Nathan Schultz, ON)

What were your take-aways, concerning the overall message?

I appreciated that it wasn’t just an information download by leadership. They came and sat with us and shared their hearts, as opposed to coming in with a posture of “we have the answers.” This made our time together even more special. John Cressman streamed in and spent time sharing vision. He spoke about four compass points: multiplication, engagement, future readiness, character–it all came with such specificity. This resonated with us. It wasn’t by chance. It brought a sense of alignment. We thought about what it means in our own context. 

(Sam Devine, MB)

I really appreciated Ellen Krahn’s workshop. She talked about spending time in quiet with Jesus. It aligned with where God’s been speaking with me. I especially appreciated the permission to quiet my mind, and the perspective that when you get distracted, it is a positive opportunity to re-engage with Jesus. (Graham Gaessler, ON)

It re-affirmed that we are a collective, I felt this in the sessions, during communion & prayer together. Appreciated hearing from John Cressman and Brian Archer. The topic rejuvenated my soul. I went away knowing I am not alone. I left with more questions still, and some solace, some resolve to know it’s going to be ok.  (Heinz Janzen, AB)

We talked with Lynn Dietz about practical things pastors are going through, all the new responsibilities as a result of uncertain times. Plans that may change in two days. Trying to comply with all the rules. Lynn reminded us that we are responsible to take care of ourselves. Know when to say, “I need a break,” and then line it up, and take it. He also reminded us to concentrate on our relationship with God and don’t let that slip because that’s when the enemy can get in.  Nicole Jones-Qandah was also there. It was good to see what’s happening in World Partners, the direction, future plans, and goals. Also, it was good to hear from John Cressman who joined online and shared direction for the denomination with a continuing focus on discipleship and following Jesus. (Conrad Neudorf, BC)

The message was great as it focused on rest, renewal, and self-care. (Sunday Olukoju, MB)

I sat in on Simon Beadle’s breakout. I appreciated how real he was. He talked about the importance of staying focused. We talked about the importance of not letting social media, or hobbies, etc., encroach on time working with people. When I work more efficiently, then rest time is more restful, because I am satisfied with what I’ve done. (Nathan Schultz, ON)

What were your take-aways, relationship-wise?

The message tacitly covered deep relationships – but could go deeper in this area, particularly in balancing the relationships of a pastor’s family and ministry. (Sunday Olukoju, MB)

Hearing from our sister church was helpful. It is easy to feel isolated, but no, we are in this together. Struggles are across the board. This was a personal encouragement to me. (Sam Devine, MB)

On Monday night, I got to connect with someone with whom I had a previous connection. On Tuesday, I had opportunity to chat with someone who had just gone through certification. It was good to have the chance to connect more personally. We shared our pastoral stories. (Graham Gaessler, ON)

There was an opportunity to go on a hike with a colleague where we poured out to each other. It was good for our bodies and the conversation was good for our souls. I led a break-out. We were able to talk about the struggles, shed some tears. We listened as each one shared and then prayed over them. (Heinz Janzen, AB)

Everyone has the same stories. You feel alone, but you’re not. You can get to thinking: maybe we’re losing people, maybe it’s my fault, but no. Communion was special. We prayed for each other. A prophetic word. We also had fun. We played golf, and we had great conversations over dinner. Everything was so meaningful. (Conrad Neudorf, BC)

On a hike, I had a chance to talk to a bunch of other pastors. It was unhurried, unforced, natural. It was refreshing. There were no expectations, that was restful in itself. (Nathan Schultz, ON)

What did you hear God saying to you, during this time away with your ministry colleagues?

Covid has changed a lot of things. The mission remains the same. I am encouraged to keep going. (Sam Devine, MB)

I need to help people learn to pray more holistically. Create some opportunities for people to encounter Jesus in a contemplative way. (Graham Gaessler, ON)

“I’m proud of you for keeping on.” (Heinz Janzen, AB)

Press pause. To survive you’ve got to take better care of yourself.  I’m setting up a home gym. (Conrad Neudorf, BC)

I need to be sure to set aside unhurried time to be with our new associate pastor.  (Nathan Schultz, ON)

This article is featured in the Winter 2022 edition of The EMCC Together newsletter

Download a PDF copy of the newsletter and view previous EMCC Together publications here.