On September 14th-17th, 2021, the NW Family of Churches met for a leaders retreat at Bogus Basin, hosted by the Treasure Valley Church of Christ. Disciples gathered from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, and Alaska. It was refreshing to see each other again after more than a year of postponing a retreat due to social distancing. We focused on the book of Philemon and on deepening our NW relationships as we played games, hiked, prayed, worshipped and encouraged one another.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ. Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.” – Philemon 1:4-7.

“If I were to sum up this retreat in one word, the word would be “family.” The lessons, which focused on quality rather than on quantity, helped inform the ample time we were given to invest in our NW relationships. Multiple times a day we organically congregated in each other’s condos to talk, laugh, play games, and share food together. It wasn’t forced or overly structured, which created a genuine sense of being at home with one another. Even as we discussed some of our churches’ heavy and tense challenges from the past couple of years, there was a deep spirit of unity and camaraderie which only further solidified the familial love that defined the trip. I believe this experience has set the tone for many more experiences to come. I pray that each subsequent opportunity we have to spend with one another will only grow our ability to love one another the way that Christ loves us. May this happen, so that the world can’t help but take notice and see that we are his disciples!” – Riley Sanderson

“A saying that is helping me from the retreat is ‘learning to listen better.’ We aim for leading from the relationship and not the role in our cooperation between NW churches. That idea is tempered in situations where we need to be able to accept direction with a Timothy-like heart. It is a counterbalancing tension in our inter-church relationships, driven by genuine love for one another.” – Kelly & Cheryl Boyd

“We spent a lot of time in the book of Philemon, looking at our relationships among the NW leaders. There was also a lot of relational time that was much needed. You just can’t replicate physical time together on a screen. We played games, we hiked, we laughed a lot and it was so refreshing to be together. Looking forward to more times ahead as our relationships grow stronger!” – Gina Rawson

As a way to creatively encourage creative relationships and vulnerability, Tyler Grimm passed out necklaces at the start of the retreat. Throughout the week, we had a contest where every time someone practiced reframing they would receive another necklace, and the person with the most necklaces by the end would win. Reframing is a great skill to practice, where you repeat back what was shared to make sure the other person in the conversation feels heard and understood to their satisfaction. As a result, rather than a retreat with multiple lessons, our time was filled with discussion and improving our listening skills.