We were finally able, in May of this year, to organize and execute a plan that had been in my mind for about ten years: To bring together young pastors and their wives, for a relaxing retreat away from the demands of the ministry.

Six couples joined Nan and I for three days at the beautiful Clover Cliff Ranch in Chase County, Kansas. This group included:

Doug and Kristy Wray—Kalispell, Montana
Jared and Tiersa Donigian—Deary, Idaho
Christopher and Kristin Preston—Fairview, Pennsylvania
Matt and Hallie Becker—Norway, Iowa
Faisal and Carrie John—Prescott, Arizona
Jessie and Breanna Seltman—Holton, Kansas
Ann Norris—Wichita, Kansas

Others were invited, but for various reasons were unable to attend.

Mornings were dedicated to dealing with issues that pastors and their wives face in ministry. As I did not want to add a further burden to the men, I asked each of them to come with an informal session on a question, a problem, or a need they were facing in their ministry. In these morning sessions, we had an open discussion where each participant presented what they had prepared, followed by input and ideas from all the other members.

Nan organized the discussions for the ladies around ministering women in Scripture. Each pastor’s wife was asked to present a certain woman from the Bible, tell her story, and give pertinent faith lessons. Then the ladies would discuss the application of the story to life as a Christian woman and pastor’s wife. She was greatly encouraged by the spiritual maturity of the ladies and their eagerness to serve alongside their husbands in ministry. 

Afternoons were left open for rest and relaxation, hikes along the ranch trails, a visit to the Tallgrass Prairie Nature Preserve and the nearby towns of Strong City and Cottonwood Falls. This area is about 15 miles as the crow flies from the Cedar Creek Ranch where I spent my early years.

In the evenings, we gathered as a group for dinner and to review the lessons and discussions of the day. Time was spent in prayer and worship, and we all enjoyed the glorious sunsets over the lush Kansas prairie.

It is our intention to repeat this retreat on an annual basis, meeting in different places around the country, so as to make travel easier for each in turn. We also hope to include other young ministry couples the next time.

For our last evening, we dined together at the historic Grand Central Hotel in Cottonwood Falls. The feedback we received from all couples was very encouraging, as they found the time spent in the Word and in fellowship with one another very rich, relaxing, and rewarding. We all agreed to stay in touch and lift one another up with prayer and encouragement. 

Your prayers and gifts made this retreat for these young couples possible, and you share in the harvest by your faithfulness.

We ask you to lift each of these servants up in your prayers as well!

By grace alone,
Gene Cunningham