Escape to Relaxation

By Abraham Park

The annual Parish Retreat has been a long held tradition, a tradition that goes back since 1983, a span of at least 35 years, according to Berkeley Boone.

“At that time it was in the spring,” said Berkeley. “In the last 10-12 years, it changed to the fall.”

A popular and important event in the church year, the Parish Retreat has been a time for attendees to rest, relax and get to know others within the parish. Averaging anywhere from 60-100 or more attendees, parishioners take a weekend to visit Camp Mikell, located in Toccoa, near the foothills of the Georgia Appalachian Mountains. The camp is 460 acres, “including mountains, valleys, waterfalls and Little Toccoa Creek.” Established in 1941 by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, it’s developed into a conference center used year round by parishes within the diocese, a place of spiritual rest and recuperation.

“A major part of the weekend is going out and relaxing with fellow church members and kicking back in nature,” said Berkeley.

Recently, there’s been a slight addition to the Parish Retreat. Ever since the retreat last year, there has been the addition of a theme to provide spiritual guidance and direction. This year’s theme was “The Way of Love” and the retreat had voluntary workshops and study sessions that provided deeper insight into the theme.

Caroline Crespino has been attending the retreat for ten years now, since she joined Holy Trinity. She worked to put the schedule together for this year’s retreat, along with other members like Gina Smith.

“This year, Gina Smith and I worked to plan the retreat. I also talked to Fr. Greg about [it], so he was a big part of the planning,” said Caroline.

It’s hard work to prepare for the retreat, and can be a thankless job, but the fruits of it can yield large harvests. Laura Manzer attended this year and last year’s Parish Retreat and had high praise for the retreat.

“Chris and I attended the Holy Trinity Parish retreat last year for the first time when Robbie was eight months old and we immediately knew we were looking forward to bringing him back year after year and making it a family tradition.”

For Laura, her favorite activity was the music service with Holy Trinity’s new minister of music, Will Buthod.

“I was very impressed with Will and the kids were really receptive to him and Robbie had a great time and was very responsive to the hymns that were sung.”

Caroline was also impressed by the session with Will.

“I’m glad she [Laura] loved it and we’re glad to have Will as an addition for sure,” said Caroline. “He also played for the hymn sing and it was wonderful.”

It’s the bonds that develop between members of the parish, however, that may have the very best results.

“I enjoyed watching my children deepen their relationships with kids they don’t always see at church,” said Caroline. “I made new friends and sang joyously with my old friend Estelle Hinde at the Saturday night hymn sing.”

And for parishioners who didn’t experience the retreat this year or have yet to experience one? Caroline already has some encouragement for next year.

“I think it’s really worth going to retreat because you get to know parishioners on an entirely different level. It’s relaxing, the food is delicious, there’s lots of fun, there are activities if you want it. It’s really very special and anybody who enjoys our parish would no doubt love going to the retreat.”