Families uproot their lives, seminary students begin classes in small-town Fergus Falls, Minnesota, their kids start new schools, and in the midst of the chaos, seminary women invest in a weekend get-away to bond together, along with seminary faculty wives. Women’s Ministries (WMCLB) has funded this SWEET Retreat (Seminary Women Encouraging Equipping & Training) every fall for almost two decades.

Yet this year was different! A Pastors’ Wives Retreat in the Central Region has also occurred on alternate years during this same weekend, for several years. Often there has been some interaction during meals, and introductions made. But this year, the two retreats collaborated, deciding to share their speaker sessions.

Kathryn Wile, with her husband Pastor John Wile, has provided pastoral care to our missionaries for many years, so she was an excellent choice to speak to women who are actively in ministry, and to those preparing for ministry. Her teaching sessions were well-appreciated, with attendees stating: “I loved getting to sit under such good teaching.” “I learned how to study the Bible in a better way. It was extremely profitable.” “As a first time pastor’s wife, I was needing fellowship with other women that ‘get it.’ I’m so thankful for the time spent with these women who have so much wisdom to share—and to realize that we are all just God’s children in need of a Redeemer. I especially appreciated the time spent in God’s Word. I feel that I left there equipped to lead women in my church into deeper study and prayer in new and refreshing ways.”

Another collaborative session was a question and answer time between the pastors’ wives and seminary wives. One commented: “I especially loved being with the pastors’ wives for the question and answer session. They had so much to share with us (seminary women) and I wish that could happen every year.” As another put it, “It took only one question to get the conversation ball rolling, with years of authentic ministry experience being shared.”

Walks in the woods, “drinking in” God’s creation, pontoon rides, naps, good food, games, crafts, and a few gifts also contributed to the beneficial ambiance of these retreats. Faculty wives mingled with new and returning seminary wives, some whose husbands take classes online, and others who are on-site students. Pastors’ wives forged friendships, some brand-new to the Region, and others who have served faithfully for many years.

One pastor’s wife summed it up: “When I think of my favorite part of the retreat, it is building relationships with our larger Church family. It’s like a holiday get-together with a chosen family. I love the memories made and conversations held.”

Thank you for your continued support!

Cheryl Olsen is the Faith & Fellowship correspondent for Women’s Ministries of the Church of the Lutheran Brethren.

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