Meredith Russell has been part of Neighborhood Church in Sebring, Fla., since 2014. Her husband, Ben, serves as the lead pastor. Recently, a long-held desire of Meredith’s to have a women’s retreat came to fruition. Below, Meredith shared how the women of Neighborhood Church Sebring came together to plan and host their first ever women’s retreat.
In January 2019 I felt like God was calling me to plan a women’s retreat. The men had had one in the fall and it was wonderful and I wanted the same opportunity for the women. I found a theme, scoured Pinterest, and planned it with my close friend. We started informing people about an upcoming April 2020 retreat…well you can guess what happened next. COVID-19 shut down everything, including our retreat.
“Well, we’ll just have it next year,” I thought to myself. But in Spring 2021, a lot of things were still shut down. So, we decided to aim for October 2022. Mid-September, we were hit with Hurricane Ian, where the eye of the storm came directly over our town of Sebring. Again we pushed it back, this time to February 2023. It was long enough after the holidays and before Spring Break. I met with the women’s planning team and organized volunteers. I even consulted Kadi Cole’s Facebook group of women in ministry for feedback about it. In hindsight, it was a blessing to have to push back the retreat because we were really able to get all of the details worked out and utilize everyone’s gifts beautifully.
We had a one-night stay and three sessions with speakers from our own church. Each one of them spoke on one of the words of the theme: renew, restore, and refresh. I picked ladies from different seasons of life and ones who don’t usually share a whole lot, but women I thought had a lot to share. We did a spa night, campfire, and prayer stations as activities, with a break in the second day for ladies to have some time to do what they wanted around the campus. We stayed at a local Christian camp that had a beautiful facility. The elements I’ve heard participants loved the most were the worship and the fellowship with other ladies in our church.
I organized and came up with the agenda, but everything else, from the worship, welcome bags, decorations, etc., was given to different women in the church to do what they thought would be best. It was an amazing collaboration of women in our church!
If you are considering planning a women’s retreat at your church, Meredith would love to talk with you and share the resources the Neighborhood Church Sebring team used. You can connect with Meredith here.