Merry Lea to host “Witness through Storytelling,” a women’s spirituality retreat


Event: “Witness through Storytelling,” a women’s spirituality retreat
Date and time: Friday, Jan. 31 at 7:30 p.m. to Saturday, Feb. 1
Location: Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center
Cost: $45 (includes lodging and two meals) $25 for students. To register, email or call 260.799.5869 by January 21.

Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College will host its second women’s spirituality retreat, “Witness through Storytelling,” from Friday, Jan. 31 to Saturday, Feb. 1. The retreat will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Friday evening and end mid-afternoon on Saturday.

After the hectic holiday season fades, this retreat aims to provide spiritual rejuvenation and spark creative, worshipful expression. Winter is the perfect time to spend a weekend away relaxing in a picturesque natural setting. Participants will enjoy delicious food, creative workshops, winter hikes, time to relax and insightful input from the presenters.

Jackie Wyse-Rhodes, a Mennonite biblical scholar at Emory University, will speak on Friday evening. She will guide participants through familiar biblical texts with an eye toward the surprising role of creation in these stories.

“We will explore the idea that humans are not the only ‘characters’ in the larger biblical story,” Wyse-Rhodes said. “The natural world itself plays an active role again and again, from the waters of the Exodus to the trees of Revelation. We will listen to the biblical witness about the natural world and consider how nature intersects with the way we tell our own stories of faith, challenge, confession and praise.”

Saturday’s activities will focus on developing and experimenting with women’s stories interwoven with biblical stories of creation. Seasoned biblical storyteller and spiritual guide Karla Minter will lead participants through a contemplative prayer ritual, and retreat coordinator Janie Beck Kreider will lead a workshop focusing on the importance of witnessing to the truth of our experience and the power of storytelling in our lives.

The afternoon will remain open for a variety of options: hiking the trails of Merry Lea, reflection and prayer time, or simply relaxation and rest in a comfortable setting.

The cost for the retreat is $45, which includes lodging and two meals. A reduced student rate of $25 is available. To register, email or call 260.799.5869 by January 21. The retreat will be held at the Farmstead Barn, and participants will stay in the cottages at Rieth Village.

Merry Lea was created with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy and the generosity of Lee A. and Mary Jane Rieth. The 1,189-acre nature preserve is located in central Noble County, midway between Fort Wayne and Goshen, south of Wolf Lake.