Northwest District hosts “By the Sea” Sabbath Retreat for pastors and spouses

June 02, 2022

Earlier this year, to provide care for clergy, the Northwest District hosted a Sabbath Retreat at Epworth By the Sea on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia.

The “By the Sea” event was designed to provide an unstructured weekend for clergy and their spouses to find sabbath rest after Easter. This unique event was coordinated through the Northwest District Operational Team and guided by District Lay Leader Joanne Griffith and lifelong active leader Donna McAnnally. All Northwest District clergy and their spouses were invited to participate.

Most of the “By the Sea” retreat was unstructured time for personal rest and reflection. The 32 people who attended found spaces for meditative walks, conversations, rocking chairs, private balcony views of the sea marshes, group space for campfires in the evenings, Holy Communion and meals together and apart. They were also joined by the incoming Northwest District Superintendent Rev. Vicki Cater and her husband Bill.

Epworth by the Sea is the South Georgia Conference Center and a welcome location with walking trails, rooms with a view, meeting space and campfire spots for retreats year-round. Participants at the “By the Sea” retreat chose to worship in various nearby settings including at the Lovely Lane Chapel on the grounds of Epworth by the Sea. It is the oldest standing church on the island, initially built in 1880 as a replica of the chapel on the site of the 1784 Founding Conference of American Methodism in Baltimore, Maryland. Historic Christ Church Frederica was another visited site. It is one of the oldest churches in Georgia with worship held continuously since 1736. Retreat participants gathered together for a closing worship service with Holy Communion on Sunday evening led by District Superintendent Rev. Kelly Clem against the backdrop of a picturesque sunset.

Participants expressed their appreciation for this opportunity of a weekend off for much-needed Sabbath rest.

The Moore Methodism museum is located onsite of Epworth by the Sea and contains numerous items and exhibits of the beginnings of Methodism in America including special features on historically Black churches and Women in Methodism.
Rev. Brandon Rodgers and his wife Julie enjoy the opportunity to meet incoming Northwest District Superintendent Rev. Vicki Cater and her husband Bill.
A plaque on the Epworth by the Sea property tells the story of John and Charles Wesley's connection to the island.
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