This past weekend 45 RRCB youth and adults traveled to Charlottesville, VA for a weekend youth retreat. The retreat was produced by CBF Virginia for the entire state. There were around 300 youth and adults worshipping together. The theme of the weekend was centered around how to become an advocate for others. Worship, breakout sessions, devotions, and more led us to consider how we show kindness to all, and welcome the stranger in this divisive world. It was an incredibly meaningful experience. Our scripture centered on the Genesis story of Hagar and her experience of being seen by God (Genesis 16:13). Hagar, you may recall, was an Egyptian servant given to Abram so that Abram and Sarai might have a child after Sarai was not able to become pregnant. Hagar was very much mistreated by Sarai after she became pregnant with Ishmael. But yet, Hagar says she knows that God has seen her and God cares for her. It is this treatment that we are called to give to those we come in contact with. To treat others with fairness and kindness just as God would.

We also heard stories from CBF Field Personnel Joshua Hearne who serves in Danville, Virginia. Joshua has been to RRCB to speak in the past, but this weekend he shared about how he is showing God’s kindness in his city. Along with Joshua Hearne, we heard from Greg and Sue Smith who are mission partners of RRCB and CBF Field Personnel as well. They shared how their work in Fredericksburg is about connecting immigrants and refugees to services that help them navigate their new life better.

One of the highlights for me was during the worship service on Saturday night, a group called the Charlottesville Collective joined us for worship. The Charlottesville Collective is a group of ministers who came together after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville two years ago. Their goal is to create unity in their city. They shared with us about their work, and members of their congregations led in song, dance, and challenged the youth to be who they are authentically and that who they are will be what makes this world a better place.

Retreats are always one of my favorite experiences with our teenagers. It is a chance to spend time together in a relaxed environment. We stay up too late, eat junk food, and laugh and laugh. Thank you so very much to the chaperones: Seth Roberts, Lani Gilliam, Susan Halloran, and Scott Rooney. Special thanks to Daniel Ingram, Beth Rooney, and Meg Rooney who were part of the retreat leadership.

Written by Marnie Fisher-Ingram