After the departure of the Youth and Young Adult Ministries Director Kai Alston in January 2017, Bishop Beckwith called together a group of individuals to help support the Confirmation retreat process. As these events were being held in March, the committee was tasked with designing the events in a short period of time, but we proved to be more than up to the task at hand.
A team of people from all across the diocese gathered on two separate occasions to evaluate Confirmation retreats held in prior years and to plan new opportunities based on feedback from past retreats. This review process permitted us to revise and implement new activities to engage our confirmands. After a period of preparation, planning and teamwork, two strong and well-attended events were hosted by Cross Roads Camp and St. Elizabeth’s, Ridgewood.
The retreats were a lively mixture of small-group and large-group interactions. We focused on various aspects of the church today: prayer, the arts, worship, theological exploration and fellowship. The general consensus of the participants, though, was the importance of the opportunity to visit with their Bishop. Bishop Beckwith visited with each small group for a time of frank and honest questions and answers, and deep pondering. Overall feedback from the confirmands was very positive.
A review meeting was held after the retreats to prayerfully consider the feedback we had received about the overnight retreats overall and the specific activities that were offered. It was in this effort of action and reflection that we made recommendations to make changes in the traditional approach of the Confirmation Retreats.
In looking forward to 2018 it is recommended that the format move to a single day-long Saturday event. There was a strong consensus that greater focus and more efficient use of time could be found in a one-day experience. Confirmation retreats will continue to offer good conversation, good food, engaging activities, and spirited worship. We are excited to begin planning this experiment that can be a vital component in the Spiritual Formation of our young adults in the church.
Special thanks to Kathryn Schafer and Dunstanette McCauley who kept us all on track as well worked to make these retreats a positive experience. We look forward to next year’s retreats.
The participants of the committee that helped to create and re-evaluate and develop a new format for 2018 included:
Bishop Mark Beckwith
Canon Greg Jacobs
Kathryn Schaefer, Program Director at Cross Roads Camp and Retreat Center
The Rev. Mary Davis, St. Paul’s, Chatham
John Bartz, Youth Minister, St. Luke’s, Montclair and St. Paul’s, Chatham
Janelle Grant, St. Paul’s, Paterson
Dunstanette Macauley, Newark ACTS Interim Director
The Rev. Joan Conley, St. Elizabeth’s, Ridgewood
Sandy Sullivan, Associate for Youth at St. Elizabeth’s, Ridgewood
Chris Whitaker, Christ Church, Short Hills
Kathy DeWalt, St. Luke’s, Montclair
The Rev. Archie Palmer, Annunciation, Oradell
The Rev. Bill Allport, St. Paul’s, Englewood
The Rev. Nate Huddleston, Calvary, Summit
Dolores Macauley, House of Prayer, Newark
The Rev. Jerry Racioppi, Holy Spirit, Verona
Christopher Jennings, Christ Church, Short Hills
John King, Director of Administration
The Rev. John Mennell, St. Luke’s, Montclair
Wendy Drake-Shneider, St. Luke’s, Montclair