Report to Our Churches about The Renewal Retreats

This is a report of our two Renewal Weekend meetings that took place March 10th – 11th at the Meramec Retreat Center and March 17th – 18th at Camp Garwood. Both were well attended, each having 11-14 Pastors at each meeting. Some could not stay for the entire meeting, thus the discrepancy in the number. I do want to thank all the Pastors that were able to be present and humbly beg those that were not able, to please
make plans to attend the next one when it is announced.

The spirit of both meetings was tremendous. I was asked if I would give a report, thus the article you have before you.

Nineteen years ago, when God brought me back to Bethel, I came back not only with a burden for Bethel, but also for the local and state associations that she was a part of. These two meetings were a culmination of that burden.

My Father taught me that, associationally we can do more together than we can do apart. I truly believe that still today.

There were 11 elements to go over in the booklet we used. It was made clear to everyone to come with no expectations and with a humble spirit. That request was beautifully carried out.

These are the 11 elements:
1) Sharing personal history and ministry
2) Healing possible fractures
3) Connectedness
4) Association core values
5) Non-negotiables
6) Confict resolution
7) Association focus
8) State VS. Meramec (Yes, we went there)
9) Reaching out to the churches not there
10) A possible strategy to reach Missouri
11) Where to from here

Now, you may look at that and say, “Wow! They got a lot done.” You would not be wrong; just probably not in the way you are thinking. You see, those elements are the areas we must deal with and hammer out. However, I assure you, one 13-hour retreat is not going to allow enough time to exhaust those areas.

So, what did we accomplish? At both retreats we spent the entire Friday evening on the 1st element (Sharing personal history and ministry). Those men shared from their hearts. It was heartbreaking and glorious to hear where they come from and how God has richly blessed them. Hear me, please: your Pastors love the churches to which they have been called.

Next, we enjoyed enriching discussions on our core values and how we can stay better connected.

Just a note on element 8: Both retreat participants shared their absolute desire for past wrongs to be forgiven and forgotten on both sides. So that everyone knows, I purposefully planned the retreats separately not to continue the division, but to give us our space and freedom to speak openly about ending the division and received unanimous approval to bury past wrongs and unite for the greater glory of God. Thus, when we have a “Renewal” Retreat again, it will be as a whole state association because the Meramec is a local association and we know that.

Is it wrong for each local association to have their own retreats? Absolutely not, and I greatly encourage it for fellowships and strategy. But as far as state association renewal, we will be doing it together from this point forward. That was the plan all along. If you have any questions for me, please do not hesitate to call me at (636) 629-2526.

I look forward to God’s blessings upon the state and local associations of Missouri and her churches, to the glory of His Name.

by Ben Kingston

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