In 2015, instead of regional conferences, GCI is hosting retreats for senior pastors (and equivalent, with their spouses) in various locations within the six U.S. regions. The first of these retreats was held recently in Southern California. Here is a report from Pastor Glen Weber, who hosted and facilitated the retreat on behalf of Regional Pastor Lorenzo Arroyo.
The retreat group, which represented 15 congregations in the southern part of the Western Region, met at the Holy Spirit Retreat Center in Encino, California. The retreat provided refreshment and inspiration with a focus on prayer and worship. The only “agenda” for the event was to listen together to the Spirit as we walked together through Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. That focus led us to worshiping our triune God, who has predestined us to a relationship with himself in Christ. It also led us to a deeper appreciation for our call to ministry with Jesus and thankfulness for those who minister with us, including our many bi-vocational pastors.
Most left the retreat asking that we hold events like this again. One pastor stated, “An old friend came up to me during the retreat and said he felt born again a second time.” Another wrote, “The retreat was thoroughly enjoyable! Time spent praying for one another, praising God with music and prayer, time together over meals—an opportunity to get to know one another better. It was refreshing. Thank you!!” Another wrote, “Coming together in open, honest prayer about where we are in ministry and life, gave way to a great sense of unity. It also provided time to realize just how much we are to trust the Lord for our (his) ministries and churches.”
One of the participants who is new to GCI said, “I think the most insightful thing for me was the time we broke into groups and shared our testimonies. I learned a lot by listening to the stories of believers who left legalism for true liberty. Since then I have watched the film, “Called to be Free.” What a remarkable story of God’s deliverance of and love for a group of people who once had it so wrong.”
Greg Williams, the new director of Church Administration and Development USA, attended the retreat. He announced that the current plan is to hold regional conferences like those in past years again in 2016, and then a single international conference in 2017.