Five years ago, Southern Adventist University President Gordon Bietz and Greg King, dean for the School of Religion, discovered a shared vision that pastors could greatly benefit from a mini-Sabbatical. From that seed grew the Recharge program, and this year’s retreat takes place on campus July 8-20.
The duty of organizing this event was placed upon the shoulders of Doug Tilstra, professor and director of the Outdoor Leadership program. He and Star Stevens, resource secretary in the School of Religion, coordinated the first pilot Recharge program in the summer of 2008. At the time, it was only open to Georgia-Cumberland Conference pastors and their families. The following summer they opened it up to the Southern Union, and this summer they have taken it a step farther by sending an invitation to the entire North American Division. Pastors from as far as Bermuda and the Southern New England Conference have registered to attend.
“There is nothing like it out there that serves pastors’ personal and professional development in such a great setting,” Tilstra said.
The 12-day program includes worships, classes, and family activities that enhance a pastor’s personal and professional development. Douglas Jacobs, School of Religion professor, teaches a daily morning homiletics class, “Effective Preaching for the 21st Century," which is followed by a stress management workshop led by Leslie Evenson, director of the Wellness Institute.
While the adults are busy taking their morning classes, their children have activities as well, with childcare provided for kids ages 2-6. Mary Anne Poulson, office manager in the School of Religion, schedules afternoons filled with opportunities for pastors and their families to bond, including caving, white water rafting, rock climbing, canoeing, and more.
“From sitting in class with other pastors, to spending quality time with their families, pastors are given an amazing opportunity to regain their energy,” Tilstra said.
Upon arrival to campus, pastors and their wives are asked to fill out a standardized inventory that highlights the strengths and weaknesses of their marriage. The results are confidential and only seen by the marriage counselor who participants have the option of meeting with during the week at no additional charge. There are also evening workshops on family relations and parenting.
Another perk of the program is the opportunity to have a health assessment in the campus’ Human Performance Lab. Pastors and their families are also given a membership to the Hulsey Wellness Center for the length of their stay.
The overall cost of Recharge is $500 per person from the Southern Union, and $600 per person from other unions. The fee includes all meals, a private apartment for each family, classes, counselors, and activities for 12 days. Some conferences are subsidizing the trip, and pastors are encouraged to check with their ministerial directors for clarification.
To register for Recharge, fill out the sign up form. For additional information, contact Doug Tilstra or Star Stevens at 1.800.SOUTHERN.