Church Retreat 2016

“The Myth of Busyness, Too Busy for Your Own God?” by Rev. Ray Campton
We braved the traffic. The earliest to arrive, well, was Thursday, the day before the retreat began. Smart folks. The latest got there on Friday night around nine. Some opted to come on Saturday morning.

Once at St. Dorothy’s, the trees, the smell, the breeze, …well the tension of the drive melted away. St. Dorothy’s is a spiritual place. It’s easy to connect with nature and God.
Registration and unpacking, wandering and exploring were next. Everyone seemed satisfied with his or her accommodations. We gathered in Main House for our first meeting and welcome. People introduce themselves to each other. You can sense the excitement and anticipation.
We sat down to a meal of burritos, rice and beans with churros for dessert. Fellowship abounds. Newcomers were in awe of the St. Dorothy’s facilities.
Pete Feltman, Music leader from CAPC, led us with a few songs.
Children and youth go off, up the hill, to different building for their own programs led by Kelly Vaughn and Pastor Paul Scholz.
Rev. Ray Campton opened our Friday session with a question, “Who are you?”
We attempted to define ourselves, by our work, our children, our relationships, what we do, what we own, where we worship, who others say we are.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Ray’s answer, “You are the beloved son or daughter of the most high and exalted God.” “Period.” There were no disclaimers or qualifiers. It was a powerful way to start the weekend.

During the course of four session over the weekend we discussed “Busyness”, and how our activities took away time from our families, our personal growth and from God. Ray kept us on our toes with thoughtful questions and prompts. We talked about “consumerism”, advertising, TV habits, and how we have become addicted to our screens and phones.
Some pithy comments: from Ray Campton’s handouts:


  1. Cultivate contentment, desire less
  2. Resist covetousness
  3. Do not exhaust your emotional bank account
  4. Lie fallow
  5. Cultivate a closeness with God
  6. Help each other, emphasize service
  7. Don’t judge!
  8. Learn to enjoy solitude
  9. Fast periodically, from media, food, people
  10. Enjoy family field trips


Ray’s message talked about our environment.
Our processions, our wealth and material things often measure our progress. Or, we are measured by our intellectual knowledge, information and education.
Our pain and discomfort is measured in our social, emotional and spiritual environments; our family, friends, church, our attitudes and our relationship with God.
I know Ray’s message hit home with those attending our retreat. Talk to someone who attended. It was, and continues to be, a powerful message that is prompting an ongoing conversation.
In addition to the message, we also had an opportunity to make new friends.
Both College Avenue and First Presbyterian have had retreats in the past. Both churches have struggled to continue these traditions. By working together we were able to bring together two communities of faith, with common spiritual beliefs and strong traditions of fellowship. It turned out to be a great match.

To the eighty-eight people who enjoyed the fellowship and the message I have a request. PASS IT ON! Make time for God.

Bruce Johnson
Retreat Coordinator
Member of First Presbyterian Church of Alameda


[Find more photos of the retreat on our website here…]