“Spirituality in Retirement” was the focus of the Fall 2015 Gathering of Retired Clergy and Spouses. The event, which was held at New Hope United Methodist Church, Des Moines, featured a keynote presentation by Dr. Mary Fraser, the Iowa Conference’s Director of Pastoral Care.
Rev. Bill Poland, Assistant to the Bishop for Administration, kicked off the day offering his personal welcome as well as extending greetings from Bishop Julius C. Trimble who is currently away on renewal leave.
Worship, which was led by Dr. Fraser, included Holy Communion, served at each of by tables by one person to another. Words of assurance were offered to the retirees and their spouses…"You can look behind. You can search ahead. God will meet you in between. God promises to always be right there. If you believe this to be so, if you believe God is between here and there between me and you, share that peace in all you do.”
Dr. Fraser invited the group to consider what it means to be “Growing in the Likeness of Christ.” She likened life’s journey to one she took along the Appalachian Trail. Members of her group loaded their own backpacks with what they thought would be essential for the journey. At their first place of rest along the trail their guide told them to empty their backpacks. The guide collected non-essential items from each, to the dismay of the hikers who thought that everything was necessary. Though the guide told them that they would be thankful at the end of the trek they grumbled at the thinning out. Yet, when they arrived at the end of their journey they’d discovered that what they were given back wasn’t really needed at all. And, just so, in life, “we often carry around things that we don’t need to be bringing with us,” Dr. Fraser said. She encouraged the retirees and spouses to focus on what was most important to bring on their trek through life.
Table discussions focused on a number of questions such as: “What did you find most helpful from your years of full time service in going into retirement;” “How have you met God in retirement;” What does it mean to you to shed/what seems essential to you;” and “What did you used to do in your life, perhaps we you were much younger, that you could do again now?”
Following lunch Joni Mardesen, Iowa Conference’s Director of Human Resources had a q-and-a session coving diverse topics of interest including an invitation to update information with the General Board of Pensions and regularly review health and financial arrangements that retirees have made.
Rev. Poland expressed his appreciation to the staff of the host church, support staff from the Episcopal Office, and registration volunteers for their efforts to make the fall 2015 Retired Clergy and Spouses gathering a success. He also announced that next year’s event would be held on September 27, 2016 and would be a wide-ranging conversation with the Bishop.
Click HERE to see a gallery of images from the Fall Retirees Event.