They’ve been at this for 13 years now. It’s an annual winter retreat of men from various congregations, Lutheran and non-Lutheran, around the Atlanta metro area to the Holy Trinity House at Lutheranch. They came together this year January 28-30. The retreats began soon after the purchase of the property (originally The Red Paw Ranch), before the expansion of what is now The Holy Trinity House. A relentless Covid pandemic has depleted their numbers in recent years, but still they come together, for good!
“We use this annual retreat,” reports the group’s organizer and convenor, Robert (Bob) Mackinnon, from Amazing Grace, Lawrenceville, “as a time of Christian fellowship, Bible study, worship and praise. We use free time to explore this beautiful property, some fish, and several are talented musicians who jam Friday and Saturday nights. It’s a weekend where everyone contributes to the study time, meal prep and clean-up, whatever we need.” The Saturday evening meal is always something special. This year it was Low Country Boil.
This year’s gathering included men from All Saints, Lilburn; Amazing Grace, Lawrenceville; Epiphany, Conyers; Nativity, Bethlehem; St. John’s, Atlanta; and 13 Stone, Gwinnett. They came together and they intended it for good. They wanted to hear the “Holy Spirit Story” in the history of Lutheranch and they wanted to hear about “Come to the Water”, an ELCA Lutheran Men in Mission initiative to identify, recruit and scholarship community children for a week of camp at our outdoor ministries. A cooperative Come to the Water effort of Lutheran Men from Messiah, Knoxville and St. Paul, Maryville sent 80 area children and youth, many of them unchurched, to camp last year. These Atlanta area Men in Mission invited NovusWay’s Pastor Jan Setzler to come as the presenter for the weekend to tell them more about these two stories.
“I’m happy to go anywhere anytime,” Setzler said, “to talk about two things near and dear to my heart – the amazing story of the Spirit’s work in what is now Lutheranch, and the dramatic increase in community children, many of them unchurched, now coming to camp at one of our sites because of community outreach efforts like LLM’s Come to the Water and so many others across the four synods we serve.” It was fruitful time. These were Men on a Mission – to learn more about the ministry that nourishes their faith year and year and to learn more about opportunities to offer these blessings to others beyond their congregations. And they did.
“The information you presented to us has sparked interest in offering a week of summer day camp (Lutheroad) in our area of Atlanta,” reported retreat leader, Bob Mackinnon. “The Amazing Grace and All Saints men on the retreat are discussing how we can make this happen. We have a presentation to our Councils scheduled.”
It’s true. God does the same amazing things to touch and change the lives of community children as God does for the children (and grandchildren) who’ve been blessed by the ministry of your congregation. To learn more about the life-changing opportunities of summer camp at a NovusWay site or to learn more about outreach efforts to scholarship children and youth, contact Allyson West, NovusWay Registrar at firstname.lastname@example.org or Pastor Jan Setzler, NovusWay’s Senior Development Officer, at email@example.com.