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October Men’s Retreat!

“Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

A new monthly group is forming from the momentum that started with the October Men’s Retreat! Contact the church office for more info about joining this authentic, non judgmental space for male-identified folks to enjoy growing and supporting one another.

Reba Place Church hosted a Men’s Retreat on October 22-24, 2021, and invited Steve Thomas, USA Director of Mennonite Men, to lead our three day retreat. The original retreat was scheduled for March 2020, but the COVID lockdown forced us to cancel. It took us a year and a half to reschedule, but during that time, Steve Thomas and Don Neufeld wrote a new book titled, “Strong, Loving and Wise: Conversations with Men.” Reba Place Church was excited to host Steve for the weekend to explore these topics together. The retreat was an opportunity to reconnect in person after the COVID lockdown and reflect on events and people that shaped us as men over the course of our lifetimes. The retreat helped us reclaim our identity as beloved sons of God who are following in the nonviolent way of Jesus, who are shaped into Christlikeness by both great love and great suffering.

On Friday night, we had a campfire, ate s’mores and told stories. We enjoyed meals outside and kept a fire going to keep us warm on the chilly Fall days. Due to COVID precautions, we masked up indoors and made the joke that we were there to discuss what it meant to be ‘MASKuline.’ That was a fun way to go deeper and set aside our ‘inner masks’ to open up and be vulnerable. Steve Thomas created a safe space for us to share from the heart and discuss topics that wouldn't just come up in regular conversation. We spent time reflecting on power structures and violence and how we can engage powerfully with a combination of love and wisdom. We also took time to embrace who we are as beloved sons of God. This is an important and ongoing stage for us as we grow beyond violent or immature male stereotypes offered up by the culture. We spent time discussing the connections between spirituality and sexuality and to embrace both as gifts from God.

The new book by Steve Thomas and Don Neufeld, “‘Strong, Loving and Wise,’ is a unique contribution to the men’s movement because it draws upon the nonviolent way of Jesus as the ultimate expression of human growth, both individually and for society. Steve incorporates elements of Robert Bly and Richard Rohr’s work, but delivers a uniquely Anabaptist vision for a thriving humanity pursuing shalom in the local church community. The format of the book is designed to foster conversation with over 70 topics to discuss. The book is a treasure trove of wisdom for men to explore together.

Steve rounded out the retreat weekend by being our guest preacher for the Sunday service. After a joyful time of prayer and singing, Steve taught from 2 Timothy 1:7 where Paul encouraged young Timothy with these words, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” Steve pointed to John Lewis and Martin Luther King, Jr. as men who served their communities faithfully and who learned how to use power and love to transform their worlds. By the time we finished our sermon discussion time at the end of the service, we knew we wanted to continue to hold space for these deepening conversations. We are excited to offer a monthly gathering for male identified folks to gather, listen and share in the nonviolent way of Jesus.

-Rob Larson, Reba Place Church

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