Sep 28th, 2023Pastor's Retreat Fall 2023

Thursday, September 28, 2023
9 a.m. -  3:30 p.m.

Elm Hurst Inn, Ingersoll, ON
Cost: $100

“Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

You are invited to a day of retreat, encouragement and rejuvenation with God and colleagues. A day set aside for pastors and chaplains across MCEC.

women speaking at a conference

We are people shaped and formed by God's sacred story. As pastoral leaders, where do we locate our stories within God's ongoing story? Our personal stories and those of our congregations are rich containers of meaning, worldviews, assumptions, beliefs, values, and more. In this post- Covid season, God is inviting the church to be attentive to the new stories God's Spirit is writing amongst us. Living into God's future with deep faith, vulnerability, curiosity, and wonder in order to identify potential barriers. Limiting stories risk keeping the church stuck. Alternatively, as we listen deeply, God's Spirit reveals burning bush places that shimmer with the grace and the presence of God. The new stories God is writing amongst us will propel the church into God's future with bright hope. God is doing a new thing, do we now perceive it?

Kara Carter has served as pastor of Wellesley Mennonite Church for nearly 12 years. She is deeply drawn to connecting with neighbours and community in personal vulnerable ways with curiosity and anticipation of God's presence. Kara completed a PhD in Pastoral Leadership June 2022. Her dissertation focused on MCEC pastor's lived experience with barriers and facilitators as we lead cultural organizational change. 


posed photo of a manRalph Brubacher - Ralph will lead us in embodied spiritual practices which nurture our souls, renew our spirits and honour the holy in our lives. He will invite us to experience God’s presence and leading through our bodies, as well as our hearts and minds. Praying with body and soul allows an energizing intimacy to develop between ourselves and God, freeing us to connect with and live more frequently from our true self in God, as God’s Beloved. In this way we can engage in the fullness of our individual story and be open to the story God’s Spirit is calling us to live. 

After a successful 34-year teaching career, Ralph transitioned to spiritual direction in 2011. He accompanies individuals on their spiritual journey, honoring their sacred stories and exploring God's presence in all aspects of life. Ralph is a member of Spiritual Directors International and The Mennonite Spiritual Director’s Network. He recently retired from a leadership role at the Jubilee Spiritual Direction Training Program to focus on family time. Ralph has also been involved in church leadership and enjoys offering workshops on "Running and Spirituality." We are honored that Ralph is leading MCEC pastors in spiritual practices of prayer through thoughts, feelings and body sensations. 


posed photo of a manAuthority as a Gift to the Church? The Paradox of Authority in the Mennonite Tradition - The Anabaptist movement rejected the authority of priest and bishop in the church in favour of the authority of the gathered community. Yet, Mennonites also have a long and complicated history of authoritative, even authoritarian, leaders. In light of developments in recent decades—professionalization of ministry, women in ministry, debates about the Confession of Faith, abuses of power and ministerial discipline, influences from other Christian traditions, and cultural context of rapid “de-churching,”—there is ambivalence about the role of authority. Is authority in the church a burden, a gift, a mixed blessing? Moreover, how do we think about authority in light of Jesus’ statement that “all authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to him? 

Jeremy Bergen has been a faculty member at Conrad Grebel University College since 2008, teaching both undergraduate Religious Studies and master’s level Theological Studies courses. His research interests include church apologies for historical wrongs, martyrdom, ecclesiology, ecumenism, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit, and contemporary Mennonite theology.  In his book Ecclesial Repentance: The Churches Confront Their Sinful Pasts he analyzed instances of churches apologizing for historical wrongs and proposed a theological framework for understanding this relatively new practice.  His current research project is a critical examination of the claim that Christian martyrdom advances the unity of otherwise divided churches. He has served as the director of Theological Studies at Grebel, as the editor of the Conrad Grebel Review, and is currently serving as the last director of the Toronto Mennonite Theological Centre, which is closing this Fall. He is a member of Stirling Avenue Mennonite Church in Kitchener.