Over the weekend of January 26-28, men from around Wisconsin gathered for the annual Men’s Retreat. The theme this year was The Measure of a Man with guest speaker James Hopkins IV. The pictures shared on our Youth Director’s Facebook page HERE tell the story of fellowship and faith building had during the weekend’s events.
The following is a recap of the weekend:
This past January 26-28, the Wisconsin Conference Men’s Ministry hosted its annual Men’s Retreat at Camp Wakonda. Every year, the event is held and acts as a holdover gathering for the men in our Conference—halfway until the next Camp Meeting—so that they can catch up, pray together, and strengthen each other in their spiritual walks.
This year, the theme was “The Measure of a Man,” and the speaker was James Hopkins IV. James is an elder at the Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church, as well as director of the Green Bay Pioneers Pathfinder Club. Drawing off of past experiences, he shared how God has blessed him and carried him through damaging and discouraging life experiences, to the point that now he is pursuing more and more opportunities to do ministry. There was a positive atmosphere of fellowship and bonding as other men opened up about their own trials and failings and how God has brought them through to where they are today.
Pastor Zack Payne, Men’s Ministry Coordinator for the Wisconsin Conference, says that the vision for this annual retreat is that it would be a time that regular guys from around the area can get connect, make friends, and build each other up. Even the speakers, the past two years, have not been pastors or well-known evangelists, but lay people who own businesses and do ministry on the side. That way, people aren’t attending for the purpose of meeting a charismatic individual who will leave afterward and never see them again—rather they are connecting deeply with local, like-minded lay people who happen to have a talent for preaching the Word.
The attendance this year was inter-generational. Some of the men have come to the event for more than ten years prior, and for others it was their first year. 20-somethings mingled with the middle-aged, as well as individuals who are 60+, so there was an air of bridging the gaps between generations and creating friendships and mentorships between individuals of varying age groups. This is encouraging, not just for the longevity of the event in future years, but also because this means young men are benefitting from the life experiences of their elders who are nearby—which is invaluable for any group of emerging adults.
One individual, David, shared how his experiences volunteering at Camp Wakonda and connecting at the Men’s Retreat over the past year have changed his life for the better. Not only has it helped to bring him back into the church, but it has also resulted in joining a community of believers and friends. He recounted how, at last year’s event, he accidentally locked his roommate out of the room while in the shower. They started out their relationship upset and annoyed with each other, but after hours of talking found themselves being great friends.
This event is important for all the reasons shared above, but statistically it is important to note that men are much less likely to attend church than women in today’s world. On the other hand, statistics also show that if fathers play the role of spiritual leader in the home and bring their family to church, the family is nearly 90% likely to remain in the church. The numbers are, for whatever reason, not as favorable for mothers who make their husbands attend, or bring their children alone to the church. Wisconsin Conference Men’s Ministry aims to strengthen men and fathers in the church and provide a community that encourages men to keep attending, to keep leading, and to keep inviting friends and family into (or back into) the fold.
There is already talk of who will be back next year, who the speaker might be, and who this year’s attendees plan to bring with them to future events. We can’t wait to see you then!
Zack Payne, Youth Director and Men’s Ministries Coordinator