From the May 24-June 1, 2011 retreat:
"The balance of sessions, counseling, and free time was perfect"
The counselors: "Each of them was superb and the way they worked together was extremely effective."
Positive gains: "Understanding my temperment style and why I am the way I am. Really getting a handle on what stress is and resources to put in my 'tool box'."
"It was a miracle how God orchestrated our participation at Shepherd's Canyon Retreat...God ordered each detail so we could be at this special time away. He so answered my prayers to find a safe place as well as safe people to encourage and equipme to better deal with the demands, disappointments and stresses as a ministry wife. The counselors were amazing instruments of God brining knowledge and love and the joy of the Lord to shower on all of us. Praise God for this retreat and the blessing it is."
"My wife and I found the retreat helpful. We both gained insight into how we can support each other in our lives and careers, particularly with regard to my ministry. I defintely recommend SCR to any pastor and spouse who struggle with how to balance family and ministry or who just need a place to receive support and spiritual rejuvenation!"
"In the 'Dog Days' of summer, baseball players are tired and beat up fby the gruelling schedule of major league baseball. they need a break--time to heal--time to refresh--time to get ready for the final push to the Pennant (unless it is the Chicago Cubs!). how much more so in ministry! The gruelling schedule of ministry--the pain and suffering of loss--the conflict of the parish--all take their toll. SCR was an opportunity for us to heal and be encouraged and refreshed so that we could press on in ministry, in devotion to each other, and in love and service to our family. I am so thankful that...we were able to come to SCR! God's ways are truly amazing!" Positive gains: "Understanding what was happening with me; insight into stress and change...knowing that I am not alone. Learning about PTSD in ministry!"
"I could tell immediately tdhat this was going to be a place that I could share anything and feel very safe about it."I came in with a pretty 'hard shell', jaded and cynical. I have not experienced so much spiritual support, acceptance, and love before. All materials were just what I needed."
"This was a very healing and encouraging week. it will help me to push on. The pastor's family needs this nurturing--they so rarely get it."
"I came to SCR feeling very exhausted physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wasn't sure what to expect. Everything that has happened here has been healing, affirming, and encouraging. I feel very renewed and ready to face the challenges I know I will return home to. Though nothing is perfect I definitely experienced a total acceptance and mercy from those working for SCR. I feel blessed to have met the others who journeyed here to be with us. All our needs were met in a way I have never experienced before. I am inspired to take this authentic love of Jesus with me wherever I go. The backdrop for our SCR in Wisconsin is picturesque, relaxing and refreshing. I am so grateful for this week it is hard to put into words."
"I now have resourced tools in my tool box to help me stay balanced and grow spiritually and emotionally."
"It's just want we needed and we are leaving SCR feeling renewed, refreshed, strengthened, and revitalized for ministry."
"The Lord Jesus wanted us to be here! We made wonderful new friends. We were blessed with terrific counselors. We grew significalntly in our understanding of stressors and ways that we could better manage the stressors of life and ministry. We came away feeling renewed in our bodies, minds, and spirits. The Lord showed up in ways that amazed and astounded us and we grew closer as a married couple serving in God's Kingdom. Thank you for making this all possible."
From the February 13-25, 2011 retreat:
"Our marriage was saved."
"I came to the Shepherd's Canyon Retreat feeling like a wounded, ragtag soldier coming directly off the battlefield--wartorn, exhausted, beaten down, and emotionally drained. I'm returning to the war, but the triage team provided an insightful diagnosis, applied their salve of healing using their gifts, tended to not only our emotional needs, but also our mental, spiritual, and physical needs so that I'm going back renewed, refreshed, and reaffirmed in my calling. It came at just the right time (God's time) in my and my spouse's life. Thank you so much."
"As Jesus is living water and the bread of life to us as Christians, my time at Shepherd's Canyon Retreat reconnected my wife and I to our sourse--Jesus--gave us healing, perspective, and encouragement to carry on in the ministry. This week was God-ordained intervention to restore our weary hearts, to lift up our eyes and to see again the uniqueness of the church and our unique calling as His ministers. We are grateful to our current congregation and our God that we could both experience this."
"The devotions and prayer times were relaxed, open, and resonated with different parts of our journeys. The Scripture passages were always inviting us into the deeper waters and moving us to a deeper understanding, with no feeling of being pushed into anything." Shepherd's Canyon Retreat is a gift of God. The care and compassion that is given to each person that comes is amazing. The counselors are truly gifted and the heart of Christ shines through them."
"I feel the flood gates have been opened and I will be able to continue communicating with my husband. I feel fear but this week was a gift of God & you can't take away what the Lord has given."
"The intensity and quantity of sessions was really what was needed. It was like a week-long hospital stay for a serious illness. We had been limping along on sporadic outpatient care."
"This was a great place for 'safe' reflection on what it means to be wounded and not defeated." "Shepherd's Canyon Retreat was like a 'stream in the desert' to us! My husband and I have served now for 21 years as a couple...or entire married life. We have never bgeen helped or cared for--as a couple--by a congregation until now. We love Jesus; were called by God to serve even before we knew each other; and want to help His Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. This has been our prayer. However, we have been wounded not only by the challenges and nature of the ministry call, but we have been 'bit by the mouths we feed.' God is our Shepherd--we know that--and had it not been for SCR, I'm uncertain we would have remained His Shepherd's to the people of the church! I hold this ministry in my prayers! Thank you deeply!"
From previous retreats in Wisconsin and Arizona:
"It has been such a privilege to take part in this very needed program. It has been just what we, a weary and stressed-out couple serving God in the church, have needed. It is not easy for pastors and their spouses to know where to turn for their own spiritual and emotional care. How awesome that Shepherd's Canyon Retreat is devoted to doing just that. We will be forever thankful for the opportunity we have had this week to relax, receiving caring support from others in our situation--all surrounded by such natural beauty and caring attention by the staff. We will be forever grateful for Shepherd's Canyon Retreat for 'getting it right' in knowing so well what those who have been wounded by life, and by ministry, so desperately need. Clearlyh there has been much thought, prayer, and sensitive planning put into this program and for that we are truly thankful & appreciative."
"I have never before seen a counselor or therapist until now. I was able to share with Barb (counselor) authentically and she was able to help me work through some issues that I've never had professional help with before."
"My pastor-husband has never been willing to go to a marriage counselor before this. This experience was so positive and helpful to both of us, that he may be open again if we should need that help again. We especially loved having both Barb & John present to guide, encourage, and advise us."
"I am more accepting of why God made me the way I am...I now feel valued and loved even when I take time to care for myself."
"Shepherd's Canyon Retreat is meeting a need for clergy couples that no one else is even aware of. This unique ministry is essential and priceless to any pastor and spouses who want to work together through tough times, heal, and continue to serve the Lord."
"This is a valuable ministry for clergy and spouses. It seems every pastor faces a tough time in ministry. This ministry has encouraged me and helped me to be excited for ministry again. The therapist used their expertise and faith to give me the wisdom to understand the past and see my potential for the future. This week exceeded my expectations!"
"The therapy and faith had a good balance. I feel blessed and encouraged for ministry."
"Shepherd's Canyon Retreat serves a great need for a population that needs this kind of care & support & cannot easily find it."
“I've encountered God's mercy anew."
"Thank you to all who helped organize the prepare for this retreat. A real blessing to us as a couple. I needed to hear what I was told. I was in a lot of pain...physically, emotionally, and spiritually."
"We are going to promote SCR. This is a must for all clergy couples."
"We all need the time for renewal in mind & spirit. When we feel broken, we need somewhere to go. Thank you for this gift and for your prayers."
"I recognized that I carry shame and Jesus wants to carry it for me. He loves me."
"Shepherd's Canyon Retreat is a positive support. A safe place."
"EXCELLENT, and ‘extremely respectful’.”
“I felt a very close connection with both Phil and Cherryll. Each had a special way
of drawing me out and meeting special needs I have.”
“Very helpful; asking probing and effective questions; very empathetic. Both seemed to understand well where I was coming from.”
“I thank and praise my God every day that I was given the opportunity to be blessed by the ministry of Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat. I am able to look at my life in such a more positive point of view now, and I wish we’d had this ministry available to us 10 years ago.”
“I am able to see my gifts and offerings towards ministry in a new light. The counselors both showed me what gifts I have….We got to see where we are at (as a couple) and how we can move forward.”
“I felt strongly respected and worthwhile.” “I really appreciated Pastor Art and his ministry (chaplain) to us. Without the spiritual element and that affirmation, I don’t think I could have felt the safety I felt in opening up.”
“Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat has been a turning point in my relationship with God, my husband, my family, and my church involvement.”
“Amazing. God allowed areas of my life I didn’t realize I was hurting in..to be exposed. I am so thankful!”
Please summarize your experience of SCR in one sentence: “Influential, insightful, helpful, needed.”
“SCR brought new life-changing insights to my professional, personal, and marital life.”
“caring, loving, Christ-centered nurture for hurting pastors & spouses.”
“I will encourage folks to come to SCR because it is a good resource to work at difficult life-issues in an intensive manner and in a setting that promotes self-introspection to mediate and grow in our weakness areas.” “This was positive and rewarding”.
“I feel many of my husband’s needs were addressed and this has helped me better understand how I can be a better partner in walking by his side.”
“I feel more relaxed and refreshed. I have new friends. I feel more hopeful towards the future.”
“SCR was beneficial to me and to my wife…a week to relax, be restored, and be rejuvenated.”
“The location of SCR was beautiful, comfortable, and relaxing. The accommodations were excellent. Sharing a cabin with another couple provided new friendships. The lodge setting for sessions was especially helpful in facilitating communication. The counselors were well prepared, knowledgeable, organized and good communicators. They took time to talk with us individually. They joined us for leisure activities as friends. The program had a good balance of group, couple, and individual sessions.”
“This is such a wonderful, open environment where all feel welcomed and valued, never judged. Everyone is hurting, but we learn that healing can come in many forms and through many vessels. “
“We went to a place set apart for healing…healing in our hearts, in our marriage, and in my vocation. God blessed us profoundly with a life-changing experience. In a short span of eight days we met new friends who laughed, cried, and shared how God can move us from brokenness to restoration. That out of death comes life. We experienced resurrection power in this wonderful grace-filled place.” I was made to feel that I had worth and that I was worthy of concern."
"Whether the challenges you are facing have to do with congregational issues, family difficulties, or emotional/spiritual pain, this extended time away with other pastors and spouses and experienced counselors can bring significant help and healing. There is an excellent balance of counseling, education, and Christ-centered, Biblically-based solid spirituality. Any pastor can benefit from this retreat."
Q: How well did you “connect” with the counselors regarding your issues and concerns?
A: They understood well “Bless be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.”
"The SCR staff restored a sense of worth in me…that I was capable and loveable!"
"I felt as I was fully listen to and understood."
"This event was a breath of fresh air. It provided a safe community to share hurts and disappointments. It was a healing experience. Pastors need a place to turn to for a listening and non-judgmental ear. The investment to train
a man for ministry should be enough of an incentive to save a man in ministry for continuing work in the Lord’s Kingdom. It is possible to provide for a Kingdom Worker, as work unto the Lord."
"John and Patti were both excellent counselors and just great friends."
"I appreciated my one-on-one time with Patti while my husband met with John one-on-one. Our time
with all four couples was also very beneficial."
"The two topics John used for study, 'stress' and 'change', I felt, fit everyone’s needs whether it was challenges with work, marriage, family, etc."
"Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat was a gift to us—as a couple and as individuals. It came to us (by surprise) at a time when we were struggling with family and children’s issues that were tearing us apart, emotionally and spiritually, because of the stress and fear we were dealing with. As a pastor’s family it’s difficult to face our own issues and still 'be there' for our congregation’s needs and expectations. The Retreat gave us an opportunity to get away and refocus on God’s great love for us and our love for each other as husband and wife. Thank you for this gift!"
"Having an entire week to be able to step out of our current pressures and challenges and just spend time with my husband and other Christian adults gave me a chance to feel “normal” again and time in Bible Study and prayer has reaffirmed my faith in God’s goodness and faithfulness."
"God knew our needs as a couple and He provided for us through Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat."
en we first arrived at the Retreat our thoughts were that we were going to try to spend time alone—just the two of us—as much as possible. But, as the days went on, we found ourselves wanting and enjoying spending more and more time with the group (bonfires, etc). I look back and realize it was because of our Retreat Leaders were so great—they drew us all together!"
"This program helped energize and re-direct my ministry. I feel energized and re-charged. I truly feel as though I could do much better things for my God. This retreat was the rest and rejuvenation that I have needed."
"I realized that I am important to God."
On the role of the Chaplain: "Pastor Jim and his wife were awesome. He helped in the spiritual direction of our entire week. He continually helped us with the theme of spiritual aerobics. It was an awesome experience getting to know, enjoy, and love him. He was like a father-figure to me."
Re: initial contact with SCR: "I was impressed with the sense of urgency to address my needs."
"I feel that I will have friendships that will last a lifetime."
"The individual sessions helped me to see that I was defeating myself (spinning wheels). I needed to “let go” and “let God.” The only thing stopping me from success was myself. They showed me that God could use me mightily."
"We feel so blessed by the privilege to be with counselors and spiritual advisors who were qualified to help us realize our potential."
"The ratio of counseling and time for ourselves was perfect. We had time to relax and reflect on what we heard and how we could use it in our lives."
"Having true Christian counselors was just what we needed to put life back into perspective."
Re: follow-up: "The counselors entrusted us with their cell phone numbers. Who would have thunk!
Things I didn’t even know were bothering me came out and were dealt with.
Again I can never thank you enough for the opportunity to participate in the most awesome program for helping ministers. They are usually left to pick up the pieces after they are treated bad by the imperfect humans to whom they minister. To have an organization like Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat to care about the down trodden and stressed-out minister (and his wife) is a God-send. Thank you for letting God work through you and your organization. God bless you all.
From John Johnson, LPC, De Pere, WI,
received September 16, 2009
“It is too bad that the synods do not understand the stewardship in your program. Growing rich ripe fruit for the Lord in their worker training schools and then letting that fruit rot on the ground, when it is blown from the tree, is nothing short of sin. Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat
gently picks up that fruit, washes it and cares for it, places it back in a beautiful bowl in the center of God’s table, where it can once again enrich God’s people.”