Staff Blogger: Melissa Kunz, Content Manager

Last year, Lakeside Chautauqua hosted the first Fellowship of Locals Pastors & Associate Members Retreat. This year the retreat will be held from Sunday, Aug. 23-Wednesday, Aug. 26.

As a result of an idea sparked at a Religious Life Advisory Committee meeting, this retreat was a collaborated effort between the Rev. Doug Winner, East Ohio Conference president, the Rev. David Weaver, West Ohio Conference president, the Rev. Dr. Ned Dewire, Lakeside Chautauqua director of Religious Life & Church Outreach, and Shirley Stary, Lakeside Chautauqua senior vice president of Programming.

Together, they designed a retreat specifically for local pastors of the East Ohio and West Ohio Conferences.

“We found the Lakeside organization so willing to extend their help and services to make this retreat a success,” said the Rev. Winner. “It was a blessing to us.”    

This three-day retreat experience provided nurturing opportunities, such as morning devotionals by the lake, an evening picnic in the park and free-time to be spent exploring Lakeside.

“The group of licensed, local pastors, and the need for them, is growing, so we’re creating a retreat experience to provide resources needed to perform this role,” commented the Rev. Winner. “It also gives them the opportunity to experience Lakeside and develop skills local pastors need to serve their respective churches.”

The retreat also included a lecture with inspirational speaker Robert Rogers, author of Into the Deep, and a Chaplain’s Hour with the Rev. Marla Brown and the Rev. Judy Claycomb.

Lakeside was chosen as the meeting place because of its unique environment.

“It was the perfect place because of the atmosphere of the community,” said the Rev. Winner. “It is a faith-based community with United Methodist roots, so it seemed like the right setting.”

More than 30 pastors attended the first retreat built to bridge together members of the East and West Ohio Conferences. About half of the attendees were joined by family members who shared in their experience, while the other half enjoyed the time spent alone to reflect and renew.

All attendees gave positive feedback about their experience, the retreat and Lakeside.

“The pastors who came said it was relaxing and re-energizing, and that was our goal,” responded the Rev. Winner.

As a result of such positive feedback, Lakeside Chautauqua will host the retreat again from Sunday, Aug. 23-Wednesday, Aug. 26. The event will have similar components as last year, but an additional day has been added for reflection and renewal.

The group invited local pastors and United Methodist clergy members from Detroit, Mich. for next year’s Fellowship of Local Pastors & Associate Members Retreat.

“We’re excited to build a relationship with other groups who may not know what Lakeside is and offer them the potential to grow at this retreat,” said the Rev. Winner.

The Rev. Winner began coming to Lakeside in 1983 with his family. In the early years, they camped in the campground.

“Lakeside has always been a special place for us,” he said.

When he moved from Willard, Ohio to Sandusky, Ohio, he was able become more involved with the community.

In 2012, the Rev. Winner was invited to join the Religious Life Advisory Committee by Bob Machovec. Now, the Rev. Winner will serve a two-year term as leader of the advisory committee.

This year’s retreat is sponsored by the Fellowships from Detroit, Mich., East and West Ohio Conferences of The United Methodist Church and the Lakeside Chautauqua Religious Life Department.