Women’s Retreat 2017

On the weekend of February 24-26, over 50 women of all ages from The Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd and Good Shepherd on the Hill gathered in the beautiful Texas Hill Country at The Retreat at Balcones Springs, for a weekend of rejuvenation, relaxation, exploration of faith, and building of friendships and community. Indeed, the Annual Women’s Retreat is highly anticipated and always thoroughly enjoyed by all.

Our Annual Women’s Retreat serves to support and connect all women in the Parish for an intergenerational weekend of spiritual nourishment, relaxation, fellowship, and friendship and this year was no different in delivering just that. This year’s theme, Wisdom and Wonder, was designed to encourage the women of Good Shepherd to share openly in an effort to learn from one another. We believe wholeheartedly that when women open themselves up to one another to share their stories, their experiences, their wonders and worries, there is infinite possibility for learning and community building.

We were lucky enough to have Fran McKendree join us again this year leading our music and worship. Fran has an innate ability to bring people together, no matter their background. He brings to the table much more than his musical talents and we were grateful to have him join us in this transformative weekend.

New to the leadership line-up this year was Valerie Tutson, a professional Storyteller (truly, she has a Master’s Degree from Brown in Storytelling as a Communications Art). Valerie draws her stories from around the world with an emphasis on African traditions, although recently she has been embarking on more and more Biblical storytelling. And she delighted us this year with her accounts of women from the Bible.

Under the leadership of Aimee Bostwick, our Director of Family Ministry and an incredible team of parishioners who spent months planning in advance, the weekend went off without a hitch. We’re already looking forward to next year. If you are interested in getting involved with the Women’s Retreat 2018, it’s never too soon to let us know. Please contact Aimee Bostwick: Aimee@gsaustin.org for more info.

Below are a few brief recollections from retreat attendees:

My name is Ana Romero and I have been a member of Good Shepherd’s Windsor campus for just under a year now. Aimee approached me about attending the retreat back in January and I agreed that I should partake, seeing it as an opportunity to make new acquaintances. I am so glad that I made the decision to participate. I did not make acquaintances, I made friends. I was able to get to know the other women of the congregation in a fun, light-hearted way. Being able to talk about my faith with others in an atmosphere free of pressure or judgement was so liberating. I am so appreciative of the time that I spent at the retreat and will definitely be returning next year to reunite with my “sisters on a journey”! – Ana Romero

It could have been called “The Wisdom Retreat” because of the structure the weekend used. By breaking into small groups frequently and addressing a specific topic each time, brilliance was brought forth, examined and individually incorporated, meeting each woman’s specific need. 

Our charge was to continue to join groups with people we didn’t already know – which is why so many of us met so many others without the normal anxiousness of trying to make conversation. Our small group tasks were built around the stories from Scripture that Valerie Tutson, a professional storyteller and our wonderful Retreat Facilitator made come alive – bringing new insight to familiar passages like Mary’s visit to Elizabeth in the first chapter of Luke.

Having the Mardi Gras Party and Ash Wednesday’s Service so closely on the heels of the Retreat gave us additional opportunities to solidify relationships begun in the small circles at Balcones Springs. I am wiser because of the collective wisdom shared and richer because of the new friends made. -Laura Eldredge

I felt so blessed for this time to renew old friendships and make new ones. It was a restorative and nurturing experience for all. No doubt, the Spirit was with and in us, and She had a great time too.  -Anne Carlson

Photos by Patricia Adams Photography

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