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With doubled attendance from its inauguration two years ago, the Women’s Leadership Retreat in southern Ontario provided tools and inspiration for women from 23 churches in differing leadership roles, along with encouragement in their own walk with Jesus.

Elders, Coffee Break and other Bible study leaders, and leaders of GEMS girls’ clubs spent a day-and-a-half at a conference center in Guelph for Bible teaching, personal reflection, small group discussion, and worship. “It was the beginning that I needed to re-energize myself and the roles that I have,” said Renee Beswitherick, a second-time attendee and a leader/coordinator of Coffee Break small groups at Palmerston (Ontario) Christian Reformed Church.

In 2012, Beswitherick and a co-leader from Palmerston “enjoyed it so much that we really encouraged the rest of the leaders to attend this time,” increasing their contingent to seven. Registration overall increased from 32 to 64.

For retreat facilitator Marian Lensink, mission director for Classis Hamilton (a regional group of churches) and volunteer team leader for Coffee Break Ontario, the hunger for this kind of specified leadership-building prompted the offering of the retreat in the first place. “I saw lots of leadership efforts around me that were not necessarily meeting the needs of women in lay leadership,” Lensink said. “A retreat provides a different setting where you’re pulling away and you have more time.”

It met that need for Beswitherick. “It’s very easy as a leader to get so busy and caught up in all the things that need to be done,” she said. “Sometimes I think we forget about ourselves and the care that we need to put into our own relationship with Christ.”

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