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Center Reflections

February 2020

The Beginnings of the Center:

In April of 1993, our bishop shared his vision of a new ministry for clergy and laity who suffer from “weariness in well-doing.”  He envisioned a place where church leaders could retreat, be quiet, and listen to the voice of God.  He also asked us to form a task-force of clergy and laity which would discern how this ministry might be developed.  After a year of deliberation, the Center was born. Our task—as we saw it then—was to create a space for grace.

Every Center event, from that day until now, poses the essential question, “Who is God for me and who am I for God?”  Retreatants are encouraged, not to better understand their relationship with God, but to engage in it—to enter into a dialogue with God.   This challenge continues to be part of every event we offer.

Today, many professed Christians feel themselves adrift in an increasingly chaotic and senseless world, and are searching for some way to live-out their faith in meaningful ways, or at least make sense out of their lives.

The United Methodist denomination, of which I am a member, sees its primary task as “making disciples for the salvation of the world,” and rightly so.  Unfortunately, when discipleship devolves into doing at the expense of being, “burnout” becomes inevitable.

However, when we consciously put ourselves in the presence of God, we discover that authentic discipleship—the discipleship that the Spirit sustains over time–is not about external actions as ends in themselves, but with the inner life that energizes us to act in the name of Jesus.  Your grandmother may have admonished you with these words, “Don’t just sit there!  Do something!” and we have internalized these words very well.   Our invitation is just the opposite, “Don’t just do something!  Sit there!”  

Our primary task at the Center is to respond to the request uttered by the first disciples, “Teach us to pray,” whether explicitly or implicitly expressed.  True prayer—and true discipleship—begins as we are prepared to give God the chance to demonstrate his care and concern toward us, and by paying attention to our inner experience when we give him that chance. 

Russell M. Hart

Center Director Emeritus


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