August Discerners Series

Dear Parish Family,

Many of you are likely aware that there is an ancient health care tradition of “teaching hospitals.” A teaching hospital is a hospital that partners with medical schools to help train future health care professionals during their formal education–especially during their internship years. It’s typical for these hospitals to be large and thriving places, capable of both supporting the formation of young doctors and nurses, and serving as examples for the work they will one day do elsewhere. Thus, it’s a sign of health (pardon the pun) when a hospital is capable of serving as a teaching hospital. Teaching hospitals are also often “research institutes”–places where new horizons of medicine are being explored and innovative approaches to care are being tested.

While you may have known this, you may not know that there’s a similarly ancient tradition in the church of vibrant parishes being places where future priests are trained for ministry, and innovative approaches to mission are tested. By the grace of God, All Angels’ Church appears to be in a season of health where we are being called to this work. At a moment when we’re exploring new avenues for church planting and revitalization, God has also begun to stir the hearts of several young women and men in our parish to consider ordination in the Episcopal Church. Of particular excitement to me personally is that some among those discerning a call to ordination (i.e. Michelle Howard) are also among those who will go with Christine to help revitalize St. Peter’s Chelsea–offering a deeper sense of confirmation that the season of vibrancy we’re experiencing as a parish is intricately intertwined with the calling we’ve felt toward broader church renewal.

This August, we are giving six of these “discerners” a chance to explore and hone their craft as preachers by offering them a chance to give the sermon at our two services. I’m so excited for the chance to hear from these burgeoning young voices, and to support their callings as a parish. A full schedule of preachers can be found below, along with pictures and bios. Please join me in giving your support to these dear sisters and brothers as the offer their gifts to God and to our church!

In Christ,
Nate+

August 4, 5pm

Ariana Miller is currently discerning a call to the vocational diaconate.  She is a member of the Vestry and has attended All Angels’ for three years.  Ariana is also involved in Community Ministries and the Music Ministry at All Angels’.  Outside of church, she works in community development finance.

August 4, 10am

Gregory Conarroe is the Area Director of FOCUS (Fellowship of Christians in Universities and Schools) New York City, a para-church youth ministry. Gregory is a graduate of Wheaton College (IL) where he studied Cultural Anthropology and Christian Education. 

Gregory has a MTh in World Christianity from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland where he studied the contextualization of Christianity across cultures. He and his wife, Jenna, have been in New York City since their marriage in September 2017 and have attended All Angels’ since then.

August 11, 5pm

Joe Dewey and his wife, Becca, and their two boys, Denton and Louis, started attending the evening service at All Angels’ in February of 2018. Their attendance is somewhat sporadic due to Joe’s work as an assistant pastor in Brooklyn and as a student at Princeton Seminary.

Joe is originally from Columbus, Ohio. After graduating high school, he went to UVA where he met Becca. The two got married in 2010, served in campus ministry together at UVA, then moved to St. Louis to study at Covenant Seminary. Joe and Becca moved to New York in 2016 and live in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

August 11, 10am

Michelle Howard has been a member of All Angels’ for the past five years.  Among the many AAC ministries she has participated in, she has loved serving as a Sunday School teacher for the 2nd and 3rd graders alongside her husband, Hyatt.

Michelle works as the Director of Operations at the Osborne Association, a nonprofit organization working with families impacted by the criminal justice system. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from Duke University with a certificate in Anglican-Episcopal Studies and a BA in Religious Studies from Yale University. Running in Central Park, reading a good book, and photographing city landscapes are among her favorite past times.

August 18, 5pm

Jordan Wesley has been a member of the All Angels’ community since 2011, serving on the Vestry for the last 4 years. Through weekly liturgy, her house church, parish retreat dance parties and many tears of joy and sorrow, this sacred place has become her home away from her Texas family.

Jordan holds an MA in Christian Ministry and an MS in Social Work from Abilene Christian University and has worked for churches and youth development organizations over the past 12 years. Jordan is a wannabe yogi, a devoted herb gardener and a resident of Harlem.

August 18, 10am

Seth Little  is the Director of Worship Arts at All Angels’. Seth grew up in Georgia and then left the South to study music production and guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and later, to earn his MAT in theology and art from Fuller Theological Seminary in SoCal.

As a church leader, Seth’s passion is to connect the riches of the Christian faith to all of life and he believes the arts are essential to this task. Seth and his wife Emily live in Harlem with their three young children, Lydia, Thaddaeus, and Gus.

August 25, 5pm & 10am

Joanna Thomas brings a diverse set of skills to All Angels’ as the Interim Pastoral Associate. A parishioner since 2010, Joanna has served on the Healing Prayer Team, the Vestry, the Worship Team, and the Women’s Retreat Team. Joanna and her husband, David, live in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with their Rhodesian Ridgeback, Taco.  One day, Joanna hopes to complete a triathlon.

All Angels Church Welcomes The Rev. Dr. Jonathan A. Linebaugh as “Visiting Priest and Scholar”

Meet our newest member of the Clergy team.

JonoInstitution

Click here for a video greeting from the Linebaugh family.
Click here to LISTEN to the Rev. Dr. Jonathan Linebaugh’s Institution sermon.
Click here to WATCH the sermon. (link expires July 17th)

Dear Friends,

Over the past several months, your leadership has been working hard on a transition plan for this Fall, when our beloved Christine Lee moves into her new role as “Priest-in-Charge” of St. Peter’s. As someone who has overseen several priest searches in previous parishes, I was immediately impressed by the caliber of candidates who presented themselves for this position. To be blunt, it’s not always easy to find a high caliber assistant priest, and I’ve regularly experienced dead ends in searches. The reality is, the best candidates generally want to serve as head Rectors–not as somebody else’s assistant. So, the talent pool in these searches is often pretty thin.

That was not the case for us. From the very beginning, it was clear that we would have our pick from any number of highly qualified applicants. The trick, as we began to vet candidates, was to determine exactly what we were looking for as we made this hire. The big question was this: Did we want to call somebody immediately who could step fully into the role that Christine has had? Somebody who could, like she did, serve as a partner to the Rector for the foreseeable future (in Christine’s case, for almost a decade)? Or, did we want to come up with a short-term solution, somebody who could be with us for a discrete period of time, allowing us some flexibility on the road ahead?

As we began discussing this question, an amazing thing happened. God answered the question for us. Vestryperson Funmi Akintayo-Mullis put it well when she said ‘These decisions come to their best resolution when we look, not for the one who we want, but the one who God is sending.’ That’s exactly what happened here.

I’ll try and tell you the story as best and as quickly as I can. About a month ago, a portion of your parish leadership held a meeting at the Rectory, during which we discussed a particularly interesting candidate. However, after a lengthy discussion about this candidate, some significant concerns had been raised, not only about this candidate in particular, but about the idea of immediately hiring a full-time priest in general. At the time, I was also hosting Bishop Ric Thorpe–the church planting expert whose work has brought radical revitalization to churches throughout London, and who had come to New York at Christine Lee’s invitation to help pioneer church renewal in our Diocese. After the meeting was over, I began to process the various aspects of the decision with Bishop Ric.

JonoLinebaugh

Suddenly, Bishop Ric interrupted me and asked this puzzling question: “Who is your best friend?” “Excuse me?” I asked in response. Then he said: “I just think whoever your best friend is, you should reach out to him, and do whatever it takes to get him here.” Then, he excused himself to go to bed.

If the interruption was puzzling at first, it became even more so as I began to ponder it further. Many of you have already met my best friend, The Rev. Dr. Jonathan (“Jono”) A. Linebaugh, as he was the preacher at my Institution. The thing is, while he’s an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church, his primary vocation is to the theological academy. So, I thought: “That couldn’t be it.” True story, I spent the rest of my night going through my rolodex, searching the archives of my various networks, trying to think of a more “realistic” candidate whom Bishop Ric’s enigmatic words could be suggesting.

The next morning, out the blue, I got a text from Jono. In short, Jono’s text said this: ‘My plans for my sabbatical this coming year are still unclear, and I’m not really sure what I should do. What do you think?’ Talk about “the one who God is sending,” right? As a friend, my first response was to help him weigh his various options. But in the end, I finally hit him with it: “Jono, you should come work with me.” And, thanks be to God, all were in agreement.

As a bit more background, Jono is a Lecturer in New Testament and Theology at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of Jesus College. He and his wife Megan have three children: Liam, Callie, and Anna. His main academic focus is the interpretation of Paul’s letters in the New Testament and he has written and edited a number of books and articles on Paul’s theology and the way the apostle’s letters have been read by later interpreters. For Jono, this research is also wed to his pastoral calling. Ordained in The Episcopal Church since 2008, Jono hopes in his research and teaching as well as his preaching and pastoral care to be a minister of the word: to hear and receive the gospel so that it can be spoken to and shared with the world.

Calling Jono as our “Visiting Priest and Scholar” means that we have gone with our second option: a short-term hire, who will be with us for a predetermined amount of time–specifically, this Fall and Spring. As it became clear that God was calling Jono specifically, we also began to see how this was the best thing for our parish on the whole. This is true for several reasons. Above all, it allows us the time to both be more intentional in determining exactly what we want from a second priest–whether we will want to hire another “Vicar” like Christine, or whether we should use that position for some other good purpose–as well as the time to be patient and thorough in our search. Please pray for us as we continue to seek God’s will about this future.

fullsizerender.jpeg

For now, I could not be more excited that Jono will be serving our parish this coming year. You’ll see him and his family for the first time at the Annual Parish Retreat in September, and then regularly beginning in October after Christine’s departure.

Please join me in giving thanks to God, and in welcoming Jono when he comes!

In Christ,

Nathaniel Jung-Chul Lee+

“Don’t Walk By”: A Reflection

Don’t Walk By is an annual winter outreach to our neighbors surviving on the street. The outreach encourages New Yorkers to put into practice the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Over the past decade, Don’t Walk By volunteers have canvassed the streets of Manhattan, met over 10,000 individuals and invited them back to a host site. There, guests of the NYC Rescue Alliance were offered a hot meal, clothing, basic medical care, and connection to ongoing support.

This year, All Angels’ Community Ministries lead the overnight hospitality task force in collaboration with the NYC Rescue Mission. On February 2nd and 9th, All Angels’ opened its doors for shelter for over 30 men and women brought to us through Don’t Walk By. A handful of those guests still come to us for Sunday shelter, church services, and/or our Pathways drop-in program.

 

don't walk by 3

_____________________________________

“Ever walk by a homeless person and wonder to yourself, ‘what can I do to help?’ Well, at All Angels’ we’re constantly thinking of ways to alleviate the effects of homelessness, and in February we participated as host to shelter as many in need as we could as part of the Don’t Walk By initiative. I was one of the hosts for those evenings, and I’m richer for it.

As someone who is still dealing with the trauma of being homeless, I often wondered what the purpose of my life is or will be, and that evening I felt that I just might be finding the answer to this question.

As we set up our shelter, I wanted to create a welcoming, warm, relaxing environment for our guests. That included lighting, aroma therapy, food and drink, a warm bed and shower, and even a movie. We were also able to offer clothes and such from our donation bins. While that was half the mission, the most important component to me is the human one. Greeting my guests, having small talk with them, and sharing our experiences was the most gratifying aspect and I have found a real knack for this. I strongly believe in greeting someone with a smile, handshake, and looking into their eyes–barriers crumble. Our guests deserve to be treated with respect and compassion.

The next morning there was a light breakfast and conversation. I was blown away by my guests. They were gracious and wanted me to know how much they loved their stay actually stating it was the best shelter they ever stayed in and asking when they could return. Seeing them so happy and rested–maybe even walking a little taller–filled my heart. I think this is where God wants me, so, ironically, I came in wanting to give to those in need and instead received more from them then I could ever give.

To my guest for those two nights, thank you for giving me direction, value, and purpose. To the NYC Rescue Alliance, my fellow angels at All Angels’, our clergy, management, volunteers, and support staff… keep doing God’s work. Amazing!

To all who read this, a challenge of sorts: starting ASAP, smile and see God’s love flourish. Praise God and God’s Kingdom awaits.”

–Joey Sepulveda
CM participant and part-time All Angels’ Support Staff team member

On Stewardship

 

 

I’ve taught on the subject of stewardship a few times in Sunday School and I’ll address the same 3 main questions here as I do there, just more personally and with slightly more grown-up language:

  1. Are we talking about boats today?
  2. Why do we give?
  3. What does God do with what we give?

Not quite Noah’s Ark

“No, we’re not talking about boats today…”

“Aw, man.” 

“…but we’re going to talk about a chance you have to act like a sea captain.”

Put on your captain’s hat because you’re in charge of the S.S. Piggy Bank! We each have a ship filled with our assets that we steer into different ports, making drop-offs as we see fit. God has entrusted us with the resources we’ve been given and it’s up to us to judiciously divert it to places where it can continue to further God’s kingdom.

Now this metaphor clearly sprung from my work with the kids, but I’ve actually come to really like it because it importantly emphasizes that we are a conduit for our resources and not the final destination. God’s blessings are as much a responsibility as they are a gift, and our call is to be prayerful and discerning in how we spend them. Viewing our assets as things to be distributed not only supports that practice, but also cultivates a spirit of generosity and guards our hearts against becoming reliant on earthly things. That doesn’t mean I don’t save for the future, but it does mean that I consistently try to orient my heart towards identifying where I can provide relief and expansion for others.

 

God Loves a Cheerful Giver

But why do we give in the first place? For me, giving starts from a place of recognizing what I have. One of my most important spiritual practices has been nurturing a consistent deliberate appreciation for the blessings big and small in my life. Particularly for a natural-born worrier like myself, it’s been a vital way that I recognize God’s sovereignty and acknowledge that my trust is ultimately in His plan and provision. That practice expands my capacity to share from a place of freedom and giving can then become a form of worship and praise. From there, I can commit that with those blessings I will try to bless others.

Because ultimately, what is our call on this earth, but to bring about God’s kingdom? We are a part of a community of Christians that has spanned generations and millennia, all of whom have been tasked with reflecting the face of God to others so that they may more deeply know Him. I’ve been deeply enriched by others doing that exact thing and my aim is to pay it forward. Giving is one of the ways we put our faith into action and depending on where we are sending our money, we are supporting the continuing growth and flourishing of God’s kingdom and the larger story at work on this earth.

I’ll be the first to admit that every time I crack open my checkbook or look at the annual pledge card, there’s still an instinctual Gollum-like grip on my heart saying “Are you sure about that?” But my giving-related regrets have never been that I gave too much. And I’m teaching myself to use those moments of hesitation as a reminder to pray blessings on what that giving will become…

 

Five Loaves and Two Fishies

…because what does God do with what we give? He takes our 2 copper coins and transforms it vastly beyond its apparent means. He takes everyday things and makes them holy, multiplying what we put forth.

The donations to the kitchen capital campaign will become thousands of meals and those meals in turn will be thousands of opportunities for our brothers and sisters to experience a God that loves them. A retreat scholarship becomes a chance for the hard work of community integration to take place and the feeding of our relational souls. A meal to new parents creates just a little more capacity for presence to the family.

And $10’s worth of popsicle sticks and paper cups can become:

onsteward1

At first, you might squint and perhaps see a couple of dioramas of our church building, but in the 20 minutes it took to design and assemble them, I saw our kids challenged to see Jesus in each other and to love one another even when it’s hard. I heard them delve into understanding what makes a church a church (hint: it’s not the cross on the front door!). And I know another link was added to the bonds of community that will support their faith walk for years to come.

None of these things necessarily start out as something flashy; more often than not they’re rather mundane things. But our imaginations and limited understanding can put a harness on what we think is possible. Giving is a route through which I can recognize and honor what God can do through His own work and other people that I cannot. In a way, it’s its own small act of faith, entrusting both that God will make sure I stay afloat, but also that He will see to it that my giving is transformed into something beyond what I could ever imagine or do. Recognizing that where my limits end, God’s works can transcend.

Finally, while this post is about financial stewardship, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you could substitute the concept of money here with your talents, time, hospitality, and presence and it’d still be just as true. What better way to be the face of the living God on this earth than to serve in a ministry, share a meal, or be a comforting ear to someone?

In sum:

onsteward2

— Pam Wong

Pam Wong is an All Angels’ parishioner, JH youth group leader, and host to the Brooklyn HC.

New Staff Spotlight: Jack Ricci

All Angels’ welcomed a new Youth Ministry Coordinator in August : Jack Ricci.  So that everyone in the All Angels’ community might get a more personal glimpse of Jack, as everyone on staff has been so grateful to have had, we decided to come up with five questions that would reveal a bit more of who the real “behind the scenes,” and in his personal life.

Image from iOS

1. What really matters to you more than anything else?

Jack: More than anything else, I want everyone, including myself, to believe that God loves them and will love them through eternity, and that they act that out in the world.

2. If you had the choice to do one thing on your day off, what would it be?

Jack: Spend the whole day with my fiancé Kate – doesn’t matter where we go!

3. What brings you joy?

Jack: Seeing the kingdom break through into our world through beauty, kindness, redemption, and trust. I also like when the Yankees win.

4. What’s one thing people would be surprised to learn about you?

Jack: I love 90’s club music. It’s heavily motivating and it’s great bike riding music.

5. What are you most excited about working at All Angels’?

Jack: Getting the chance to make an impact on the hearts of our youth, and to equip them to be their fullest selves for Christ.

Be Where Your Feet Are

And because of Christ, I must try to not worry about where my feet will be by the end of September. He’s going to provide green pasture and still waters and new sounds and sights and even new smells in my new town, in my new grass.

The title caught my eye. I clicked to open the daily devotional with hopes that the words

Beverly Cook Image
It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.
He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
Your help has made me great.
You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
Psalm 18:32-36

would resolve my angst about our upcoming cross country move. Moving to me is usually an adventure. New town. New Streets. New Friends. New fun things to do. But not this time.   This time, we are moving to the familiar, a place I know well and a place that knows me. I have not yet figured out why that doesn’t bring me comfort.

Unfortunately, the written advice didn’t do much for my heart. While well-meaning and helpful for many, I found this piece full of Christian platitudes and Church-speak that means little in the midst of grief, fear, and anxiety. I can tell you all the reasons why we should move and I can tell you how we can see the hand of God opening the doors of this move, but I’m just not ready to leave my NYC life.

While the comfort did not come in the “advice” of the blog, it did come in the title: Be where your feet are. “That’s right, Beverly. You don’t have to be in Houston, Texas yet. You’ve still got months left in NYC and a lot of life in the midst of those months. Be where your feet are NOW, and then, when it’s time, plant your feet in Houston.”

As I continued to mull this over, three Scripture stories came to mind.

The first one is found in Genesis 19 It’s the story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the salvation of Lot and his family. Scripture says that the land was covered in darkness, that it was a time when each person did what was right in their own eyes, following the desires of the their flesh and using people for their own gain and pleasure. Lot, a man of God, lived in the midst of this with his wife and two daughters. Angels came instructing them to flee, providing them a way out before God destroyed the city. Take a moment to read the passage below.

15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.” 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

18 But Lot said to them, “No, my lords,[b] please! 19 Your[c] servant has found favor in your[d] eyes, and you[e] have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. 20 Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. 22 But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.[f])

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

I see so much goodness from the Lord. He not only sought salvation for Lot and his family, but he even allowed Lot to negotiate where he would dwell next. “Please Lord, not there!   We won’t survive in the mountains. We need a something a little closer.” And then, just as we are headed toward a happy ending for Lot and his family, we find those haunting words, “But Lot’s wife looked back.”

In the midst of their family’s salvation, Lot’s wife looks back. She dies, loses her life, wishing she could be somewhere her feet were not.

++++++

The second story is found in Acts 5. This is the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira who sold a piece of property. Rather than giving all the proceeds to the church for distribution to those in need, they held back part of the money for themselves, a clear violation of what God asked of them. While Scripture doesn’t tell us why they tucked some away, I wonder if they kept some back to make sure they had enough for the future. Maybe they were planners and living without a plan for the future was too much.

Ananias and Sapphira die, looking forward to somewhere their feet were not.

++++++

And then there is Jesus, who unlike Lot’s wife and Ananias and Sapphira, knew how to be where his feet were. In the midst of feeding the 5000, Jesus took time to teach the disciples important lessons about faith and provision. He could feed the masses and still work in an object lesson for his trainees. The hillside was full of hungry people and yet Jesus managed to be aware of who was sharing the grass next to his own sandals.

How about the woman with the issue of blood? Jesus is walking through crowded streets, pushed and shoved and jostled like commuters trying to exit the subway at ALL Times Square trains at ALL times of the day! And yet, he is aware of the tiniest touch of a desperate woman hoping for miracle.

Finally, there is Jesus on the cross. In the midst of the pain of the cross, knowing that his human death is imminent, he has the divine foresight to care for the future of his mother.

When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.” (John 19:26-27)

++++++++++

Here’s where these stories collide for me:

There is coming a day when I will need to quit looking back longingly at NYC. But until then, I need to be where my feet are, in the middle of America’s most exciting city, rubbing elbows with humans from every nation in the world, listening to the music of trains, sirens, and the laughter of children, and waking up every morning to the smell of fried eggs, coffee, a party that went too long, and the brokenness of my homeless friend down the street.

And because of Christ, I must try to not worry about where my feet will be by the end of September. He’s going to provide green pasture and still waters and new sounds and sights and even new smells in my new town, in my new grass. “Until then, Beverly, be where your feet are. And then, when it’s time, move your feet to new pasture.”

Be where your feet are. That’s where we find rest, peace, comfort, joy, and safe pasture. Amen.

++++++++++

If you want one more story that really brings all this together, ask me about the squirrels at Marcus Garvey park!

Written by Beverly Cook

Parish Retreat Testimony

Attending a new church is hard. It just is – no matter the reason. It is especially hard if you are an extroverted introvert. What that means is that if I am by myself in a room full of people I do not know, I will talk to as many people as I can and start making new friends because what else am I going to do? But if I know one other person, I will only talk to them and not talk to new people. So going to a new church with my husband (who is an introverted introvert) meant we didn’t really talk to anyone. And since we started going to church in the summer, it also meant that house churches (or at least the ones we were looking at) weren’t meeting.Screen Shot 2018-07-26 at 2.08.36 PM.png

So after attending AAC for three Sundays my husband and I signed up for the retreat, and by “my husband and I” I mean I told him if he wanted this to be our church home, we had to go to events where we would meet people and really commit, and he agreed (which is a big deal. Remember the introverted introvert part? I’m not exaggerating that.)

I was nervous about going to this big event, but excited to meet new people. I mean coffee hour at churches is terrifying for me, and here we were, going to a weekend long retreat with a bunch of strangers. And you know what? We did meet many nice and awesome people from both services. It was so great to see the whole church together.

It was more than just a meet-and-greet church social. I have always struggled with being close with my family. I just never understood how I really fit in with them or why I was the way I am when they are the way they are. Then we had to do an exercise where we had to create a genogram of our family. A genogram is basically a super detailed family tree (this is an oversimplification. If you want more, see my husband. He took a class on them.) As I was filling out the genogram, I started noticing patterns and seeing my place in the family. It all started making sense. And I took my quiet time, in the calm of nature, to really pray about it. After the retreat, I started opening myself up to my family more, and I started feeling more a part of them.

This allowed me to open myself up more to my church family. We are part of an awesome house church (which I highly recommend) and volunteer with the church sound team (always looking for new members!)

In short, I would recommend the retreat to everyone. It was really a wonderful experience (and I hope to meet you there!)

Written By Erin Moughon-Smith