We spent this weekend on a retreat with core members of Via Christus at the Stronghold Conference Center in Oregon, IL. The camp is centered on an actual castle built by a newspaper tycoon back in the 1920's. It's an amazing place, not the kind of thing you'd expect to find in Illinois. The grounds are beautiful, set in the woods up on a rocky ridge overlooking a river (yes, this is still Illinois!) We stayed in the Carriage House, a wing of the main castle.
We spent the weekend practicing spiritual disciplines and exercises. We observed the Daily Office, spent hours in silence and solitude, read books, contemplated and created art, listened to music, read poetry, told our life stories, and just had fun together. The setting was great, the people were fun, and we had lots of time to just detach from everyday life and actually create space to listen for God. We came away stronger and more bonded as a core group, and with renewed unity on our vision for the church. We discussed our plans and agreed that we wanted to pursue our dreams for the church with everything we have, even if it isn't the most efficient way to plant a fast-growing, quickly self-supporting church. We committed ourselves to focusing on being missional and communal, even if it takes longer to find the people in our community who also resonate with those values. In all it was an encouraging and refreshing weekend.