Our Story – Kingdom Weekend
Kingdom Weekends were started in November 1998. This program was brought about by a partnership with Atonement Lutheran Church in Barrington. This renewal retreat was based on having lay members of New Life be the team leaders at the retreat. There were 5 weeks of intensive training for these lay members. Sandie Carlson, wife of former Pastor Paul Carlson, was one of our first lay leader.
At this dynamic weekend, lay members would lead participants through talks and small group discussions as well as offering an opportunity to reflect on one’s values and priorities, consider ways to draw closer to God and to sing and worship together. These were very personal stories that were shared and values that were revealed, so all the information shared was confidential to only the people at the retreat. The retreat was designed to deepen one’s faith and give people confidence in sharing that faith. And to remind people that nobody was too small or too big to be a part of God’s kingdom.
Once you had attended a retreat, you became a team leader for the next one. So there was always someone new stepping up to lead, teach, and share. And there was always new attendees since you only went once. Many people used this as an opportunity to invite others outside of our church to have this extraordinary faith experience. For example, some members invited their “train buddies” from their commutes downtown for work.
These gatherings were from Friday night to Sunday. Most of them were hosted at LaSalle Manor in Plano with dorm style housing. There were a couple of retreats that utilized the LOMC retreat center in Oregon and Lutherdale camp in Elkhorn, WI.
There was another benefit to these retreats besides the personal growth; the ability to connect with others, to have meaningful conversations, and focus on others. And in true Lutheran fashion; there was food. Even though the meals were provided by the retreat centers, Lutherans were never one to come empty handed to a gathering!
These retreats were held once a year, generally in November and continued every year through 2004. But the impact on those that attended and served as a team leader continues today. It was an important part of their faith journey that continues to influence their life today.
Here are just some of the pictures from those retreats. If you have others, please share with firstname.lastname@example.org