A powerful point of connection

by Lt. Colonel Darlene Harvey

Captain Mylie Hadden greets Captain Lily Reinier

When the Salvation Army Continuing Education Program (SACEP) moved online a few years ago, the decision was made to incorporate an annual retreat so officers in their first five years could come together to build community and resiliency. While the first retreat took
place at Camp Mihaska in May 2019, the pandemic cancelled retreats in 2020 and 2021. Being able to come together again this year proved a powerfully restorative and affirming experience.

For the first time, the retreat included auxiliary captains. Since they participate in Distance Learning instead of SACEP, a name change was needed, and officers were invited to give suggestions. The retreat’s new name “Connection” represents its purpose of strengthening our connection to God, ourselves and others.

Majors Joseph and Lois Wheeler affirm Captain Kendra Hixenbaugh.

Major Lauren Hodgson from the spiritual life department in the Eastern Territory led participants in spiritual disciplines to renew their spirits. Pastoral care officers (mostly retired) were part of the ministry team and led connection groups where officers shared their experiences, based on Major Lauren’s teaching, and received encouragement and affirmation from each other. In essence, they became a community sharing burdens and losses and celebrating joys in their personal lives and ministries.

Officers also were able to take part in a great range of soul care learning opportunities and experiences based on the results of their own spiritual vitality survey taken in preparation for the event. The learning opportunities incorporated subjects like keeping the Sabbath, balancing ministry and family, maintaining friendships, praying for our children, issues men face, freedom from the performance trap, financial freedom and healthy living using Weight Watchers or the Daniel Plan. Soul care experiences ranged from hobbies like Cricut crafter with scrapbooking to journaling with the prayer of Examen, hiking and worship workouts.

Major Lauren Hodgson teaches about spiritual life with A/C Marcarius Coakley, Lt. Shawn Sutter, Lt. Simon Micula and Major Gay Ann Fulton.

When officers were asked to describe the retreat in one word, responses included healing, uplifting, trusting, reconnecting, recharging, renewing, unity, liberating, anointed, family, friendship, needed and revival.

Beautiful worship filled the meetings and occurred spontaneously by the fire in the Rock Pavilion in the evenings. The retreat concluded with a handwashing service where blessings were said by pastoral care officers, Major Hodgson and myself over each officer, affirming them and providing an active commitment of continued support.

“Thank you for your diligence in listening to the Holy Spirit as you and your team prepared,” said Lt. Jenny Moffitt. “The retreat was exactly what my heart, mind, and spirit needed.”

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