; charset=UTF-8" /> A New Thing on the Mountain : Connecting Voices
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A New Thing on the Mountain

By Rachel Chapman

Inspiration Point

Sixty-plus voices harmoniously singing the Lord’s Prayer, laughter, tears…the Hand Jive.  And that’s just some of the activities experienced at the UCC and DOC Women’s Spiritual Growth Retreat held October 5-7, 2012 at Loch Leven Christian Center in California’s San Bernadino Mountains.

     The retreat, “Behold a New Thing,” was the first joint collaboration of UCC and DOC women for a conference/region wide event.  And, according to comments on the evaluations – e.g. “Loved the theme and the speaker was extraordinary!” –  it was a big success.   A total of 72 women registered with 64 actually participating, representing Southern California churches from Chula Vista to Santa Barbara.  Six of the 12 registered UCC women took advantage of the half-scholarships offered.  Those funds were made possible through generous grants from the Southern California Nevada Conference (SCNC) and Local Church Ministries (LCM) in Cleveland. Over half of the DOC attendees made use of the half-scholarships offered through their funding and local churches.

Rachel with Keynote Speaker, Elaine Blanchard

     Keynote speaker Elaine Blanchard, ordained UCC pastor from Memphis, Tennessee, engaged the group with both her storytelling talents and reminders of the importance of knowing and telling our own stories.  Several women commented on how “Elaine takes stories from the Bible and relates them to the present.”  Through prompts and other activities, she provided opportunities for us to share our stories.  This helped us to connect through our similar life experiences.  She also shared information about the work she does helping incarcerated women in the Shelby County Jail system tell their stories and explained the concepts of Nonviolent Communication which encourage us to have more compassion for ourselves so we can be more compassionate toward others.

Retreat Group Photo

Throughout the retreat, women were given opportunities to join in small group activities, make and share their life maps, create a spiritual journey bracelet, hike, walk the labyrinth and relax.

     Tom Pering, the only male participant, provided gathering music as well as entertainment and accompaniment on guitar.  Tom, a gifted musician, has taken part in several women’s events for the DOC.  His wife, Cathy Pering, led the liturgical dance team during worship.

     The Saturday evening worship service was full of praise with song, dance and Communion.  The emotional evening message consisted of the retreat participants sharing what new thing God is doing in their lives.  The $635 collected during the offering will be split between Global Ministries and the Woman to Woman Project, programs supported by both denominations.

     This was a new and different experience for the DOC and UCC women who worked together to plan this event.  A lot of effort, energy and prayer went into turning a suggestion into a reality. God’s grace allowed all who participated to experience a new thing on the mountain.

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