By: Stephen Kolderup, Interim Pastor of South Jacksonville Presbyterian Church

The wind on the beach stirred up everything that was not tied down. God’s Spirit also moved mightily although more peacefully among approximately 25 colleagues in ministry from the Presbytery of St. Augustine. Steve Benz, our Transitional Executive Presbyter, and Sandra Hedrick, our Stated Clerk, gathered teaching elders and ruling elders commissioned for pastoral service for a Sabbath Retreat, October 19-21. The setting was the beautiful Omni Amelia Island Plantation, a place for rest, recreation and renewal.

Each of us had time for ourselves and time together. Some gathered for yoga with Sandra while others sailed with David Pierce. We shared food for the body and food for the soul. It is a rare occurrence to get away from one’s own congregational responsibilities and have time with sisters and brothers in Christ. I made a connection with a pastor serving 30 minutes from me. We did not know each other and yet in hours of casual conversation found common points on our journey and unique learnings from our respective experiences. Similar connections and discoveries were made through more structured table talk in our plenary sessions.

Dr. Rodger Nishioka, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education at Columbia Theological Seminary, led us through three extended conversations about effective, resilient and imaginative pastoral leadership. Rodger brings the best scholarship, briefing us on recent church and corporate studies. He also brings an engaging teaching style that connects his learnings with our particular ministry issues. He invited us to cultivate the community of pastors that we were experiencing and he urged us to live out of our core purpose. The time to contemplate and the time to engage him and each other was a beginning.

We concluded our time with worship in the chapel led by Sandra Hedrick as preacher, Amy Camp as communion celebrant, and Andy Gans as liturgist. I am grateful for our time away together and I am grateful for my colleagues in ministry.