About 40 young adults from around southwestern Ontario met recently at Maranatha Christian Reformed Church in Woodstock, Ontario, for a winter retreat. It was the third time the “weekend for 20-somethings” has happened. The annual event has more than tripled in size from 12 participants the first year to over 40 this year.
Organized by a team of young adults, the retreat is both spiritual and social, with worship sessions and a speaker, small group discussions, games, volunteering, and shared meals.
The event started with Stephanie Linker, a member of Maranatha CRC. “We really just wanted a place for young adults that are invested in their churches to connect,” she said. “We realized we needed a place to find encouragement from people at a similar life stage [as] ourselves. It didn’t need to be lots of people, just people looking to get plugged in.”
As she worked to make the idea a reality, the ministry coordinator of Maranatha joined the effort, along with two others from the church. “Together we made decisions about who would speak and how this retreat would run. Since the beginning, we’ve sought out new members who showed an interest in leadership and had great new ideas,” said Linker.
Themes are carefully chosen to be relevant to young adults at any stage, covering topics like finding your place in the church, hearing God, and building community. Times of worship and discussion are balanced by volunteering at a local thrift store—cleaning, sorting, unpacking—and games. “We find it to be a fun time to bond as a group,” said Linker, “but also to do something very practically productive.”
Response to the event has been positive, shown not only by its growth each year but by the comments of participants. “It was a great event. I thoroughly enjoyed coming together with a group of people in this life stage and openly discussing a topic very relevant to us.” Another said it all: “Hope it keeps going and growing.”