Across the first (and hottest!) weekend of February a group of Young Adults from across the greater Sydney basin travelled to Lithgow for a weekend of Christ-filled community and spiritual challenge.
Hoskins Memorial Uniting Church‘s Rev Matt Trounce and children and families worker Josh Bleyerveen threw wide the doors of their hall for RETREAT YOURSELF, welcoming in over 45 young adults and leaders from as far afield as as Penshurst, Engadine, Leichhardt, Baulkham Hills and Terrigal. The group trekked over the Blue Mountains in cars, mini-buses and on the train to enter into a weekend that encouraged them build strong new relationships as they prepared to launch into 2020.
The PULSE team, working in partnership with leadership from Christian Students Uniting (CSU), delivered a program that welcomed the young adults into a truly diverse community and offered opportunities such as: combined worship with the Lithgow UC community; a garden party, featuring an op-shop fashion parade; and exposure to spiritual practices such as using a labyrinth, spiritual drawing/doodling, and using lectio divina to deepen their study of the bible.
The luxurious gardens and grounds provided an oasis in the middle of town, and set a perfect backdrop to the garden party on Saturday afternoon. The outfits on display set a high standard, with all taking part making bold and unique fashion choices. Small cakes, cheeses and other finger food sustained the group as they played quoits, croquet, bocce, and politely discussed the weather (as one should at such occasions).
While food filled their bellies regularly, and the Lithgow pool provided a welcome chance for everyone to cool off, it was Saturday night’s Sacred Storytelling that allowed each person to share something of God’s work in their lives. The Holy Spirit moved powerfully during this time, allowing young people from a range of cultural backgrounds (including Tongan, Fijian, Australian, Indian and Congolese) to give testimony to the difference Jesus is making in their lives through song and speech.
There was plenty of food, laughs and cold water to drink, with the overwhelming feedback from attendees being a request for another gathering so they could continue the community established as a part of this new initiative.
RETREAT YOURSELF will return in 2021.