This article was originally published by The Mennonite

Peacemakers retreat crosses age range

Posted on 05/26/08 at 12:32 AM

 The Nurturing Peacemakers retreat this past weekend (May 16-18) at Camp Friedenswald in Michigan provided a unique opportunity for intergeneration conversation. “Both young and old spoke to each other with renewed hope for a peaceful world,” said Bertha Beachy from Assembly Mennonite in Goshen, Ind.

Bertha, Charletta, Lois and Bob

The weekend opened on Friday evening with introductions and a concert by Pamela Chappell, a writer and singer of peace themed songs. The evening finished off with a square dance led by caller and peacemaker Rich Meyer.

David Rensberger was the resource person for the weekend. He drew on the story of Mary and Martha as a call to contemplation as a path to spiritual health. David described the central role silence and the contemplative practice can play in feeding a faith from which both peacemaking and evangelism. As part of putting this into practice, he led the group through a number of times of silent centering prayer.


The retreat brought together a wide range of ways for participants to renew, relax and connect to each other and to God. Before breakfast Saturday morning (and again on Sunday), participants could choose from an hour of yoga or hiking in the beautiful spring time forest around Camp Friedenswald. On Saturday afternoon, session included a variety of options for spiritual nurture: a guided walk in the woods, massage, healing touch and spiritual direction.

On Saturday evening, everyone prepared dishes of food for one another that came from our experiences of peacemaking. Dishes from all over the world combined to make a scrumptious peace buffet. After the meal we shared stories to accompany the food we had shared and talked about the way food brings people together.

Story and songs around the campfire

After the meal was completed, we gathered around a fire for songs and storytelling. Mimzy Wellberg, from Glennon Heights Mennonite Church in Lakewood, CO described it this way:

“A joy was sitting around the fire listening to spontaneous stories and music that crossed a 80 year time span. Bluegrass music was played by young adults who intentionally accompany hill country people from Kentucky, to a personal goodbye song written to a person who died… I listened to life experiences of persons supporting financially CPT in it’s beginning year, to experiences on how God used a CO felony conviction to open the door to Biblical study to a challenging poem read about the importance of commitment and allowing God to work in our lives.”

The weekend closed on Sunday morning with a worship service and meal together. As we said our goodbyes, a number of people suggested that the model could be used in other regions. Wendy Chappell-Dick, who led music through the weekend said, “If all peacemakers of the Mennonite church and beyond could have the chance to participate in weekends of renewal and kinship within the church, our burden would be lighter, and our peace vocation would deepenand grow.”

More photos from the weekend:

Listening on the CouchListeningListening to DavidListening to DavidMushroom and TreesMusicSinging together
Listening to WendyColin holds a toadColin leads a hikeCharletta fiddles
Were you at the retreat? If so, feel free to leave comments with your own highlights and stories from our time together.

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