Lake Junaluska, N.C.: No suits or ties were required. Relaxing and taking time to enjoy the day was a necessity. SEJ Clergy and their families found a rhythm of rest through the practice of Sabbath time. The gathering of 250 clergy during the week of July 10 14 featured speakers Rev. Wayne Muller and Billie Fidlin. The week was built around morning musings and afternoon adventures.
"The curriculum is really good and its a chance for my wife to relax," Rev. Steve Baccus of East Gadsden UMC in Gadsden, Ala. said.
" It gave me a different perspective on the Sabbath and how Jesus respected the Sabbath. Its given me a perspective, as a minister, to set aside the Sabbath for myself," he said.
Reverends Larry and Susie Knedlik participated in the Sabbath Practice for Couples workshop among many others. Throughout the week they found a new appreciation for rest and relaxation.
"Just really how much we preach about Sabbath and dont take seriously as a commandment," Rev. Susie Knedlik.
Coming to the conference for the first time was a great experience for Rev. Bob Brown of Murphys Chapel UMC in Troy, Ala.
"I'm interested in some of the topics like learning how to take time off and rest and family Sabbath. I've never been to Lake Junaluska before and Ive heard about it all of my life. I heard it was a beautiful place and everything I heard about was true," he said.
After taking a group of 17 people from Park Memorial UMC in Troy, Ala. to a mission trip in Mexico, Rev. Steve Rascoe needed some rest.
"No matter how busy you are you still need some personal time. Its good just to be a part of the receiving edge spiritually instead of only in the giving edge and to get new ideas," he said.
Coming to Ministers Week has been a tradition of 20 years for Rev. Vernon Perdue and wife Mary of United Methodist Church of Greenville, Ky.
"This year its more laid back, youre not in a tight schedule, the evening services are very uplifting," he said.
2006 was a year particularly welcoming to families. Rev. Darrell Lyons of Lawrenceburg UMC in Kentucky brought his son Daniel for the atmosphere and the many activities.
"I brought my son Daniel because we just wanted a little bonding time as a rite of passage. Hes going into high school. Hes been to most of the workshops and it's just us two. Hes mature for his age and he's soaking it all in," he said.
"Sabbath to me is slowing down and listening for the voice of God in the common circumstances of life. Initially the topic didnt light my fire, but I have discovered that I needed it," Rev. Lyons said.
Alan Hutchings of Westview UMC IN Hickory, N.C. came to the conference to recharge before the beginning of the fall season.
"I'm here with my wife whos a minister. Im normally a schoolteacher and I have the summer off. Its not too far away for us and we get new ideas and we get to recharge," he said.
Relax a little, learn a little were the main reasons why Rev. Hurley Thomas of the Winston-Salem district comes to Ministers Week.
"We as clergy, we deal with the holy all the time and we probably break the Sabbath the most. We need that time away and that time away is that time to step back to reflect to gain perspective of where we are and who we are," he said.
"The best thing about coming to these events is meeting folks from all over and realizing that were connected. I enjoy just meeting new folks, establishing new friendships and reuniting old ones," said Kelly Crissman of First UMC in Graham, N.C.
The 2007 Ministers Conference is scheduled for July 9 12. The theme for that conference is "Making Disciples: Transforming the Home, the Church and the World." The keynote speaker will be Dr. Michael Slaughter, lead pastor for Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio. The church has grown to weekly average attendance of over 4000 in worship. Dr. Slaughter is an author, noted speaker and was honored as the Distinguished Evangelist by the Foundation for Evangelism in 2003.