Western NC United Methodist Women Spiritual Growth Retreat 2019

united methodist women spiritual growth retreat

Hi, friends. Today’s post is a recap of the spiritual growth retreat I attended last week.

The retreat is held every year for our conference (Western NC) of United Methodist Women, an organization of women who support and participate in mission work, created through the United Methodist Church. Click here to read my post commemorating their 150th anniversary, detailing how they got started and what they do now.

My mom, my grandma, and I in front of a life-sized portrait of John Wesley

I enjoyed the retreat, though “revival” might be a more accurate term. We had four worship services over the course of about two days. I would’ve liked more intimate activities and time for soul-searching, but I didn’t even have time to read my Bible because the trip was packed with things to do. Perhaps I will make some suggestions for next year. Nonetheless, it was a fun experience. And, though I didn’t get the quiet time I craved, the breath-taking tranquility of my surroundings in Lake Junaluska made me feel contemplative about the wonder of creation.

Our theme for the retreat was “Thorns & Roses,” alluding to how God can produce beauty from pain and use our “thorns” to His glory. Our speaker for the worship services was Clara Ester, a retired deaconess and the VP of UMW. She dropped out of college in her junior year to become part of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s entourage. As you might imagine, she shared some wild and stirring stories.

One sermon that I remember vividly revolved around King’s murder; she actually witnessed his death. A huge crowd of workers on strike anticipated a speech from King. Beforehand, King had received a death threat, but he chose to give his speech anyway. Clara referred to Jesus begging that God let the cup pass from Him, comparing Jesus’s agony to King’s; he likely prayed something similar that night. Clara painted a picture of the event–every pew filled and people sitting on the floor in the aisles, a wild thunderstorm rocking the building. And these are among the words King spoke that night

I don’t know what will happen now; we’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter to me now, because I’ve been to the mountain top. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life – longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And he’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And so I’m happy tonight; I’m not worried about anything; I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.

Of course, being the sack of raw emotions I am, I cried through the story. [Given our theme, the point was that, sometimes, God doesn’t let the cup pass from us because there may be a purpose we don’t see/understand.]

She spoke of other personal experiences that gave her a zeal for those who suffer, hence her becoming a deaconess later in life. She often referred to the thorn in Paul’s side and his saying that he boasts of his weaknesses because Christ’s strength is made perfect in weakness. I relate here because I use my circumstances as a young lady with a disability to inspire others and show the world that joy can be found in the midst of struggles.

Though the retreat wasn’t quite what I expected, I’m glad I went!

Right now, I’m on Topsail Island, and I’m giving the message at another church on Sunday. I hope to get back to my regular reading and writing schedule starting Monday. πŸ™‚

Thanks for reading! β™₯


22 responses to “Western NC United Methodist Women Spiritual Growth Retreat 2019”

  1. Interesting and inspiring post, Lilly. I’m glad you had a nice time while fellow-shipping with Christians.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Martin Luther King, Jr. was an amazing man – very intelligent – and his words are powerful. I love reading about him. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, Lily!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Yes, I agree! Blessings to you, Cindy!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a beautiful story. I love to hear the accounts of people and what they lived to see. Sounds like an awesome retreat.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, Brittany!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lake Junaluska is a WONDERFUL place to go ; you just FEEL the peace and love as soon as you arrive. This was an interesting event ; my only suggestion would be to have a bit more inter-active time with the other women to discuss our successes and our challenges and share ideas. This was a great group of ladies ( about 400, i think). Everyone was so nice and friendly……. just the atmosphere you would hope for at a retreat ! There was a good speaker, great food and awesome music, and I enjoyed the time with Lily and Mom. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree with all of that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I have never done anything like that, but I have given my life to the Father, I was reborn over the last couple of months. It is a feeling so hard to describe.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s awesome, Sandra! πŸ™‚


  6. Wow. Beautiful, you and scenery.:)

    Liked by 3 people

  7. I am glad you had a time for being refreshed at the retreat. I loved the pictures. Every time I read your posts about serving God I feel proud of you little sister. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks so much, Matt! β™₯

      Liked by 1 person

      1. πŸ˜€β€οΈπŸ˜€


  8. Big fan of John Wesley (at least what I know of him so far) and those beautiful flower pictures! πŸ™‚
    I’m curious to know more of your thoughts on Martin Luther King Jr… I’ve not done enough research on him and his theology myself, but I have been made aware of some concerns (particularly in the wake of the social justice debate).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Emma! I do not know enough about Dr. MLK Jr. to read between the lines on that comment, so feel free to elaborate with more info. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re welcome! 😊

        Have you heard much about Black Liberation Theology?


  9. So glad you enjoyed your retreat. Topsail Island looks BEAUTIFUL. Entirely jealous of your trips right now!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Love retreats. This sounded amazing even if very busy! I love the photos πŸ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, dear! β™₯


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