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Reconnect at church retreats

Courtesy WinShape Retreat

Jesus had just experienced two painful events. In the first, as he taught in his hometown synagogue, people asked skeptically, “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son?” In the very next scene, Jesus is told the news that his dear friend since child-hood, John the Baptist, had been beheaded by Herod. Jesus immediately sought solitude. He moved through growing crowds, climbed into a boat and pushed it out onto the calming water to retreat and recharge.

In the next story we read, a recharged Jesus feeds more than 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish. Jesus seemed to demonstrate that he knew how vital it was to escape into nature and reconnect with God. We live in a world of noise and distraction, so it is essential that we, too, take time to get away, block out the noise and reconnect with God and fellowship with like-minded believers. Here are five great places to do just that.

WinShape Retreat
[ Rome, Georgia ]
On a 26,000-acre wildlife preserve on Berry College’s Mountain Campus, Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy and his wife, Jeannette, established WinShape Retreat. Originally built in the 1930s, the property was a functioning dairy farm for 70 years, and the French-inspired architecture resembles a dairy farm from the Normandy countryside. The barns were transformed into usable buildings for accommodations and activities while still retaining the historic architecture. As a result, the campus features many buildings with whitewashed bricks and handcrafted red roof tiles, giving it historic charm.

A media-free environment with no television, telephone or Internet connection, WinShape offers guests an opportunity to unplug and focus on their relationship with God or their spouse.

“WinShape Retreat removes the distractions that inhibit meaningful conversations and provides a sequestered environment for cultivating your most essential relationships — whether it be with a spouse, a co-worker, a church group, or simply with God,” said Betty Bergen, 
manager of sales and marketing at WinShape Retreat. “We have the program and the setting that best fits each of our guests’ needs.”

WinShape hosts marriage retreats, intensive couples training, and leadership retreats, including four-day refresh-and-renew retreats for senior or lead pastors. Ministry programs are led by licensed psychologists and counselors, ministry leadership and relationship experts.

In addition to the teaching, WinShape can customize experiences and activities to the interests of groups through experiential learning and team-building opportunities on an outdoor adventure course that combines wilderness and learning to help foster relationships. Other activities available include massages, pottery, fly-casting, photography lessons, hay rides, golf and a fitness facility.

Seabeck Conference Center
[ Seabeck, Washington ]
Are you a mountain person or a water person? How about both? Set on 90 majestic acres in northwest Washington, Seabeck Conference Center, formerly a working timber village, offers sweeping views of the waters of Hood Canal and the dramatic Olympic Mountains.

The grounds are reminiscent of the quaint village that thrived there for 30 years beginning in the 1850s, complete with walkways, manicured lawns, fruit orchards and wooded trails. The conference center has been a refuge for Christians for 98 years. During the summer, Seabeck has been running family camps from June to Labor Day since 1915.

“There are life-changing events that happen here almost every day,” said Chuck Kraining, executive director at Seabeck Conference Center. “The beauty of the surroundings makes it a magical, serene place where people can have a personal spiritual experience.”

Lodging options include the Historic Inn, an 1869 vintage hotel; the Reeser, a three-story house built in 1914; or a motel-like option built in April 2012; which, in total, offer lodging for 250 people. Activities and other recreation options include boating and swimming in the lagoon, walking trails, tennis and horseshoes.