by Peg Burkey, Bellwood Mennonite Church
It was a cold, snowy weekend when the Nebraska Mennonite women met for their annual retreat at The Leadership Center in Aurora on March 1st and 2nd. Despite the cold, the fellowship was toasty warm, the laughter ran deep, and the inspiration was wise and strong. The retreat was planned and hosted this year by the women from Bellwood Mennonite Church in Milford.
We were grateful for the insights and wisdom of Kate Friesen from Sioux Falls, our guest speaker for the retreat. Kate's theme for her four messages was "What God Wants Women to Know." A few of her sub-themes were: "You are Enough," "You are Valued," "You are More than a Label," "You are Loved," and "You are Needed." For Joy Steckly from Bellwood, a highlight was the message, "God doesn't need us to do stuff for Him, yet He has chosen to accomplish His work in us and through us. [God] will give us the tools we need, when we need them. True growth happens when we realize we can't do it on our own." Another high point was Kate's vivid monologues portraying different women in the Bible. Those characters really came alive for everyone in the group!
The music for the weekend was led by a worship team from Bellwood, with special guest, Deb Brunkow, joining the team. The times of singing drew us into God's presence, and helped us focus our thoughts on the theme for each worship session. The last time of worship on Saturday closed with Communion and sharing testimonies. Char Roth from Bellwood said, "I was encouraged by our inspirational speaker and the music! It's always good to see and renew friendships with our sisters from the other Nebraska Mennonite Churches."
Fellowship and building relationships with women from other churches is a key value of the retreat. There were opportunities for this during our shared meal and snack times, free time on Friday evening and Saturday afternoon, a water aerobics session in the pool and a workshop on "Feeding our Bodies to Serve the Lord."
As the women said their good-byes, they were already anticipating next year's retreat, to be hosted by East Fairview Mennonite Church.