by C. L. “Curly” Stumb, Southern Conference
Retreat participants find support and motivation while celebrating “Gift of Years”
It has taken almost a lifetime to love a sunset, to value company, to give up what has always been too much, and to learn to revel in what is enough — but it has been worth the wait. — Chittister, The Gift of Years (p. 70, Kindle edition)
Fifty-four participants (25 from the Southeast Conference), from mid-sixties to mid-nineties — attended the UCC Reiired Servants Retreat this year at Blowing Rock Conference Center. Participants engaged in an age-appropriate theme: “Growing with the Winds of Change” referencing Joan Chittister’s book The Gift of Years: Growing Older Gracefully. Retirees of Southeast and Southern Conference welcomed the opportunity to gather in the High Country for this special shared time among colleagues and friends.
A text to a cell phone on Sunday evening heralded a message — read aloud — announcing that a grandchild had been born in California, with the good news that the child was well, as documented with photo. Glasses were raised to this good news of great joy. Rev. Clara Benson’s smiling face expressed her feelings.
A necrology was read, remembering persons who had died in the past year. Participants heard the preacher’s words in Ecclesiastes: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die;….”
The “Winds of Change,” at this retreat, brushed participants with impact of technology, a changing church, establishing a legacy, boundary sensitivities / awareness, and (stating the obvious): growing older gracefully.
The following folks from Southeast Conference participated: Ed and Judith Olson, TN; Trish Greeves, GA; Jacqueline Graves, GA; Joyce Myers-Brown, GA; George & Martha Bennett, GA; Clarice & Tom Mitchell, TN; Clara & Jim Benson, SC; Bill & Janeen Carrell, TN; Al & Jackie Dwenger, TN; Phil & Vickie Nevius, TN; Marie Fortune/Anne Ganley TN; Char Burch, TN; Elaine Ahrendt, TN; Mark Canfield/Teri Kelly, TN.