Laughing around a campfire, making music and playing sports may be a family vacation for some, but they also will be some of the fun things participants do at the 2017 Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida men’s retreat.
The ninth annual retreat, scheduled for Nov. 17-19 at Camp Wingmann in Avon Park, is open to all men (high school age and adults) throughout the diocese, as well as from other faiths. The event is traditionally held in mid-November at the scenic outpost in Highlands County, and will be marked with prayer, fellowship and plenty of fun.
“The primary purpose of the retreat for any man who attends is to ‘To Seek God’s Call on His Life,’” said Holy Trinity Episcopal co-rector Steve Easterday, an event leader. “The premise is that as Christians we are all ‘called and sent.’”
“Men Called and Sent” is this year’s theme based on some powerful verses in the book of Acts. Easterday said: “As men, ‘Called and Sent,’ we remember the words of Jesus, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses … to the ends of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). We claim this promise for ourselves remembering the words of St. Peter, ‘The promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone, whom the Lord our God calls to Him’” (Acts 2:39).
Scores of men are expected to descend on Camp Wingmann to hear this message from no less than eight leaders, including Easterday. Other co-leaders are the Rev. David Burnsted of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Orlando; the Rev. Deke Miller of Camp Wingmann; the Rev. Dave Newhart of St. Elizabeth’s Church in Sebastian; the Rev. Canon Tim Nunez, Canon to the Ordinary, Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida; the Rev. Steve Pessah of the Episcopal Church of the Holy Child in Ormond Beach; the Rev. Tom Rutherford of the Church of the Messiah in Winter Garden; and the Rev. Bill Yates of Redeemer Episcopal Church in Avon Park.
Leading, however, is nothing new for Easterday, Rutherford and Yates, the three of whom also led the first retreat in 2009. Then, Yates was the director of Camp Wingmann.
Also helping the attendees appreciate their call to the Lord will be keynote speaker the Rev. Canon Dr. Justin Holcomb of the Diocese of Central Florida. He will speak on five topics: “You Are the Glory of God”; “The Glory of the Impossible” (overview of Acts); “Ordinary Men and Extraordinary Grace”; “Advocate, Mediator, Intercessor”; and “God’s Love to You and Through You.”
Easterday cautioned that the annual event is not just about talking. He said attendees will eat great food and play sports and other recreational activities, explore the masculine side of God, hang out with the guys, climb on a ropes course or cheer the other guys on, pray for healing and help, experience quiet time with priests available for guidance and/or confession; laugh around a campfire; make music; and seek God’s heart in the Bible.
The camaraderie and spirituality of the retreat has drawn many participants through the years. However, the event is not required of clergy. When additional clergy who are not on the leadership roster do attend, current leaders incorporate them into the leadership the following year, Easterday said.
“The retreat is open to any man who would like to attend,” Easterday said. “Typically, the rectors involved have encouraged men from their parishes to attend, but over the years many men from throughout the diocese and some from other faith traditions have participated. All ages of adult men are included. Participants have ranged from young men just graduating from high school to men in their 80s. The focus is always on some part of the Bible, so ecumenical participation from beyond the Episcopal Church is easy and welcomed.”
Cost is $135 per person. All checks should be made payable to “Camp Wingmann.” Registrants also can pay via money order or credit card online at www.campwingmann.org on the internet. Deadline to register is Wednesday, Nov. 8.
For more information, call toll-free 866-526-3380 or visit www.campwingmann.org on the internet.