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Weekend family retreat connects four NE Washington churches

About 40 members of Chewelah, Colville, Newport and Westminster UCC churches spent the weekend of Sept. 6 to 8 together in a family retreat at N-Sid-Sen, the PNC camp and conference center on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

Children dance, choir sings, clergy share preaching at four-church retreat at N-Sid-Sen.

There were art projects, crafts, storytelling, children’s activities and beach time, as well as evenings socualizing and playing games.

Patty Ferguson of Westminster and Liz Gill of Colville provided activities for the children, aged six and younger.

They included a stained glass art project, a scavenger hunt, glow stick games at night, water/beach games, playground time and sinking-and-bailing a canoe.

The children concluded their time together with impromptu dancing during songs of closing worship.

Pastors Jim CastroLang of Colville, Andy CastroLang of Westminster and Jess Peacock of Chewelah led the closing worship and offered reflections on the body of Christ having many parts that need to come together, connect and work in unity, even though they may experience brokenness and separateness at time.

Andy repeated the Scripture, Cor. 12:12-27, emphasizing that there is one body that has many parts and it’s the same with Christ being formed in one body with the same spirit, one body with many parts.  The foot cannot say it’s not part of the body because it’s not a hand.

If all the parts were the same, it could not be a body.  The body needs its many parts.  If one part suffers, every parts suffers with it.  If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy.

“It takes a toll when we lose part of the body because someone is mad at us,” Jim said. “As we broaden beyond our church, do we feel suffering within the body of the local church from brokenness between us and other churches.”

He said he felt suffering when the Open Door UCC in Deer Park and the Cheney UCC left the PNC.  He wondered what he could have done.

“To feel such pain, suffering and loss when another part of the body is lost,” he said, “is key if we are to rejoice together when one part rejoices.”

At General Synod, he was in a discussion about what to do if a UCC church does not come to any conference or national events.

“What do we do with that relationship?  The whole UCC is dealing with suffering.  We need to feel it in our bones if we are to have a new day to rejoice,” he said.

Jess led a meditation calling participants to still their bodies and be mindful of its parts—fingers, toes, jaw—and to feel the chair they sit in, letting tense, tight parts loosen, and be aware of their breathing oxygen in and out.

“When part of the body hurts, like an ankle, the other ankle compensates.  It does it naturally,” he said.  “We each have 10,000 species of microorganisms living in and on our 37 trillion cells that operate together.

“Envision your body as the church, your arms as limbs of the church, microorganisms as members.  How can another church help your body?  Can it be the load bearing ankle if one ankle hurts?  How can Eastern Washington churches compensate for each other and help each other? What are the challenges for one church as part of the body?” Jess asked.

He listed and elicited some challenges for Eastern Washington churches connecting: distance, being tired and sustaining one’s own church.

They he asked what brings churches together:  sharing stories, working together on children’s activities and sharing in creating a watercolor mural of the N-Sid-Sen view.

That mural will travel to the four churches.

“We need to understand we are together as churches, facing similar struggles, finding commonalty that we are not alone and sharing stories so we are aware we feel the same human experiences,” Jess said.

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Pacific NW United Church News copyright © Fall 2019


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