Category Archives: Retreats

Happenings @ Living Well Ministries this Fall

WEEKLY PROGRAMS ARE CURRENTLY ON BREAK FOR SUMMER. Check back here soon for October  2011 schedule of teleclasses and events in Chicago.


Prayerful Living: Ministers Practicing the Serenity Prayer Together (Closed Group).

Blessings Beyond the Pulpit: Covenant Group for those in Specialized Ministries (Closed Group)

A Living Sacrifice: Biblical Principles for “Self” Care. Community Church of Barrington, September 2011. (Closed Group)

A Living Sacrifice: Eating with SOUL. FEASTIVAL event sponsored by The Center for Faith and Community Health Transformation. October 10. Visit for more information.

Seniors’ Retreat. Lakeview Presbyterian Church.  (Closed Group).

Parish Nurses’ Retreat. October 2010. (Closed Group).

Pulpit Supply:  Irving Park Baptist Church, October 30, 2011.  Community Church of Wilmette (tba).

Unless otherwise noted, all events are at St. James Presbyterian Church, 6554 N. Rockwell Street, Chicago. Programs are the sole responsibility of Living Well Ministries.


Jacki’s Passion for Retreats


Yes, passions!  I’m a frequent attendee and leader of retreats, from three-hour “minis” to week-long immersions.

For twenty years I have experienced a deepening appreciation, personal use and increased leadership of retreats for people of faith. “Passion” describes my strong, heart-felt conviction that we all need some version of a regular retreat. Perhaps it’s always been that way. Perhaps retreats are the remedy for a particularly imbalanced society and church. Perhaps (probably!) our biblical heritage of Sabbath-keeping is one way to understand the gift of retreat.

Beyond the literal ancient observance of Sabbath lie many other biblical principles that convict me of our common need. The psalmist hears God invite us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Following Christ’s resurrection, the disciples uprooted by grief and disorienting joy abide together in Jerusalem, awaiting together the plans and power of God. The epistle writers urge in many varying ways that we not forsake “assembling together.” Time and time again, I’ve seen renewal happen in the special retreat time, a renewal that sadly doesn’t always occur in the day-to-day “operations” of being disciples, of being church.

So, I’m passionate about the spiritual discipline of retreats. They have an ability to restore and reorient us to God’s work — work that may be in, through or despite us. What that time away looks like will surely vary from person to person, organization to organization, and season to season. The point is an intentional rhythm of consecration, an intentional habit of setting time aside to be uniquely receptive to God and one another.

These are the gifts I appreciate so much about retreats; consider them a glimpse into my leadership style and priorities. These will be present in some measure, tailored in unique combinations, in any vibrant retreat.

Slowing Down – The Gift to sleep a little later, move a little slower, and stop ‘working’ long before bedtime…

— The Gift to ponder without producing, whether in nature’s beauty, around the fireplace or in prayer/meditation…

Play – The Gift to enjoy recreation (re-creation!) and leisure, whether alone or with those sacred souls with whom we’re so often working hard…

Creativity – The Gift to access our intuitive, opening side, whether in arts, music, cooking, movement (or even brainstorming!)…

Fellowship – The Gift to deepen intimacy in a setting that is sensitive to varying needs and styles of relationship-building…

Discernment – The Gift to listen alone or together, to name patterns and accept truths, to identify landmarks and Spirit’s call…

Commitments – The Gift to name response to emerging Truth, to set forth in language of heart and mind the fruits of retreat’s reflection…

Worship – The Gift to proclaim God’s empowering faithfulness amid the valleys and heights of our journey, and the Gift of attending to one another as the Body of Christ…

I believe the Christian gospel to be invitation to the abundant life of Jesus Christ. For this, I believe the Biblical patterns of journey, sabbath, discernment, surrender, solitude and community to be timeless. A “Living Well,” you might say.

Wherever you are on your personal journey of spiritual growth, I pray this stirs your own reflection on current habits and/or needs for retreat! Perhaps we’ll meet at a LWM-sponsored retreat, or at a retreat for your church or organization. Perhaps in our coaching session, I’ll support your exploration of a renewing retreat experience.

Wherever it is, here’s to the abundant life Jesus promised, here’s to “Living Well,” together.


Retreat Leadership – My Past Experience

I hope this will give you a sense of the ways spiritual retreats have shaped me over the past 20 years.

TOPICAL RETREATS (2000-present)
Gatherings as individuals — either unaffiliated or from one or more church — to explore a common theme

A Few Examples of Topics I’ve Led (vs. attended) for eleven faith communities since 2000:

  • A Flourishing Life: Living the Serenity Prayer
  • Finding Our Wisdom: A Retreat for Older Adults
  • Savoring Spring: A Church Visioning Retreat
  • Befriending the Bible: A Retreat for LGBT Christians Seeking Peace w/ God
  • Forgiveness: Freedom for a Flourishing Life
  • Prayerful Living: Beyond Stress Management
  • The Spiritual Power of Simplicity
  • Prayerful Living: The Freedom in Spiritual Disciplines
  • God’s Dream: Cultivating Christian Community
  • A New Way for a New Day: Excellence vs. Perfectionism
  • Our Story Too: LGBT Christians Reclaim the Bible
  • The Gift of YOU: A New Approach to Spiritual Gifts
  • Faith Beyond Resentment (worship leadership @ retreat based on this book)

Regular unstructured, individual retreat time (beginning in my first pastorate, where I retreated 3-4 times/year for approximately a week)

A tradition of annual Grace Baptist Church retreats, attended as an active lay member and then pastor

Sacred time set aside to rest, play and study with fellow seminarians, fellow ministers, parish nurse colleagues, and interfaith dialogue advocates

Sacred time set aside to get students off to an intentional and well-supported start to their new lives

Refreshing time away from college classes for intense Bible study and training as a Discipleship Coordinators (a network of small groups for prayer, fellowship and Bible study at Taylor University)

The habit of retreat-taking is central to my Christian life. They renew, restore and reorient me for the sake of Gospel (repentance for the sake of abundant life).

I’d be honored to serve you on your own journey of Living Well in an upcoming retreat experience, whether it is inspired by the above topics or something else you imagine. Contact me at 773.655.4357 or send me an email for more info on my previous experience. Watch for more information about LWM’s upcoming retreat schedule, including one-day Bible Study retreats.