Imgp2292 Playing Tag!

(Click on pictures to make them larger.)

As this year’s annual retreat (Saturday, September 29, 2007) began, with the cold, wet wind trying to push us over, we prayed, “God, you know what the weather needs to do today; grant us wisdom to know what we need to do about it.” One thing we did was to play Tag. That warmed us up. And it demonstrated the lesson that Glenn and Gwenn Pickering were to teach us throughout the day: that living by fear, the fear of being “It,” creates distance in our relationships and robs us of all joy and intimacy. Indeed, said Glenn, our main choices in life do not come down just to good and evil, though both are real, but to love or to fear. Fear is the engine that drives evil. Love is the engine of all connection and relationships in the universe. For “God is love.”

Glenn and Gwenn Pickering were our retreat resource persons for a delightful and animated teaching session on Saturday morning. It was held at a picnic shelter at Battle Creek Park, where St. Paul and Maplewood meet. In previous years we have had weekend-long retreats in places hours away from town. But our growing size and the worsening traffic prompted us to try something in town and for one day, with no headaches over housing or long distance travel. But this being our first time in town meant that we had to settle for a shelter that was open to the elements on one side. You almost have to have the better, enclosed, shelters reserved for your great-grandchildren. Just kidding. On any other Saturday of last month, the fresh air would have been a treat. Now it was a challenge, as even full coffee cups went sailing away in the wind. No kidding again.

And still we made do, endured, and changed plans to proceed directly to lunch, then to our talent show, and then run home to warm up. The spaghetti dinner planned for that evening was enjoyed for lunch after worship the next day. All the laughter, music and joy of the talent show also helped keep us warm, just proving that more impressive than what we accomplish is what we overcome.

Enjoy the accompanying photos of some of the people who participated and helped and shared in any ways. And if you want to hear and learn more from Glenn and Gwenn Pickering, check out their website at, and learn about all the wonderful work they do with churches, families, couples and even corporations to help us get past the game of Tag, in which we run from each other and fight not to be “It,” to better ways of love and communication. For, as Glenn continually reminds us, “God IS love.”

Mathew Swora, pastor

Imgp2298 No distance here! Some of our youth and children working to stay warm.

Imgp2301 Marilyn Miller, with help from husband Ernie, oversaw the food and hospitality. Hold onto that coffee cup!


Tony Schrock, em-ceeing the Talent Show, and helping his daughter, Katrina, with a reading of "Green Eggs and Spam."


Imgp2316 Yodahe Gebremichael sings a beautiful song of praise to Christ.

Imgp2314 Wiebe and Son (Virgil and Lucas) miming troupe.



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