Women fellowship, grow closer at annual retreat

About 60 of John Brown University’s young women gathered at New Life Ranch last weekend for the annual Women’s Retreat sponsored by Student Ministries Leadership Team (SMLT). The theme this year was “Invitation,” inspired by guest speaker Lynette Washington, who came from Fayetteville to spend the weekend with students.

Under the leadership of Assistant Director of Discipleship Lisa Corry, SMLT campus ministry directors Abby Fennema, Emmy Scott and Dani Rogg spent recent weeks in preparation for this year’s Women’s Retreat.

The weekend began with the Friday evening arrival at New Life Ranch, then the first evening session and worship time led by three students, followed by small group discussion time and processing stations. Lynette, herself an accomplished athlete, coach, children’s ministry director and mom to four kids, spoke to encourage and challenge the young women in each of three scheduled sessions. Through sharing her own testimonial experiences and the lives of Jesus’ followers in several passages, she invited them to “perseverance, intentional living and continual surrender,” and a personal response of worship. Overviewing seven different forms of worship specifically, she discussed the impact of authentic worship inspired by the Spirit and unhindered by the distractions of life.

The flexible schedule was intended to allow a more low-key atmosphere away from campus and encourage both individual refreshment and forming of community. Small group reflection time also yielded meaningful discussions, prompted by questions like, “How can pride interfere with our ability to surrender?” or “What keeps you from responding more fully to who God is?” or “How can you build accountability into your life?”

For the second session late Saturday morning, a few women of the University, such as Carey Pollard, wife of President Chip Pollard, and Kris Anderson of the University’s advancement team, were invited to join the group for another discussion time and lunch together.

Regarding her role leading worship for the weekend, Mayfield’s resident assistant Meaghan Ranz said, “I really enjoyed the freedom of just letting the Holy Spirit lead us, being in a safe place with just girls. It was relaxing, and I feel like I got to worship as well.”

The retreat also included some late night interactive games and campfire s’mores, meals at the New Life Ranch dining hall, personal devotional and rest time, and for some, venturing around camp and canoeing in the frigid afternoon rain.

“Overall, it was really relationally rich,” Rogg said after the event. “Spending time with girls I don’t normally interact with, and just getting to have a short amount of time focused on being together and seeing what the Lord has for us, through small group time, worship, and the sessions. It was a good place to get away, and now we get to go back to campus together and continue to live out what we’ve been learning.”