Jun 11, 2024 | John W. Coleman

Twelve participants stepped away from their busy lives for a three-hour, midweek pastors spiritual retreat June 5. The small, monthly gathering usually includes time for reflective roaming around scenic church exteriors. But this month’s retreat at Paoli United Methodist Church offered an interior roaming, as pastors pensively perambulated a portable labyrinth borrowed for the day from Hopewell UMC.  

Some let their fingers do the walking on an easier paper labyrinth, as they all contemplated the 23rd Psalm. The Rev. Karen Bartkowski, pastor of Conshohocken UMC, led the group’s in its inward journeys.

The Rev. Allen Keller, a Deacon at West Chester UMC, led a closing Holy Communion service, giving all an opportunity to celebrate the 2020/2024 General Conference decision extending sacramental authority to Deacons in appropriate settings.

“I sincerely appreciated the honor to serve a group of Elders and Local Pastors,” he said. “It certainly was meaningful to me. It’s good to know that Elders with whom I am called to partner also found it meaningful.”

Refreshed and a bit closer to our Creator

Participants seemed pleased by the labyrinth experience, said the Rev. Peter Jamieson, who facilitates the retreats. “One said they felt God’s presence and would stop at each other turn of the path and whisper a short prayer. I think everyone felt both refreshed and a bit closer to our Creator after the retreat.”

As the monthly retreats move around Eastern PA’s four districts, this was the first held on the South District, said the Rev. Steve Morton. He helps Jamieson plan and promote the much-appreciated events.

After a two-month summer break, the September 4 retreat will be at Epworth UMC in Bethlehem. The October 2 retreat will be at the Eastern PA Conference office in Audubon (Norristown). All retreats take place from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m.