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Pastors Gather at Revelation 7 Retreat

June 12, 2024
group photo of pastors
Nearly 40 people participated in the 2024 Revelation 7 retreat.

In April, over 40 pastors gathered in Anaheim, Calif., for the Revelation 7 Pastors Retreat.

Born from the experience of a CRC pastor peer group that formed in 2021, this gathering centered on four themes found in Revelation 7: Christ-focused discipleship, Christlike leadership, Spirit-empowered life balance, and multiethnic community. 

David Koll, one of the founding members of the peer group, coordinated the retreat, sharing that their peer group has met monthly via Zoom with a yearly in-person event. In their third year they decided to have their yearly gathering take place in the form of a retreat that others could attend. 

“Pastoring can be a lonely occupation and an isolating experience. It has been a real gift to have a supportive, safe place to deal with the challenges of ministry and life as well as the challenges of diversity and racism,” he said. “We sensed that other pastors might be interested in getting away for a retreat like the ones we have had. We were thrilled that 42 persons ended up joining us!”

The retreat included worship, food, fellowship, small group discussions, and plenary sessions presented by guest speaker Rev. Peter Choi. 

“The two presentations by Rev. Peter Choi were a highlight. They were provocative and pastoral and encouraging as they reflected on the journeys of Moses and of Elijah,” said Koll. 

Attendees of the retreat shared their takeaways and reflections as well. 

Rev. Vern VanderZee, a retired CRC pastor who frequently serves as a guest preacher throughout the denomination, noted his appreciation for the way the retreat was designed to reflect the expanding demographic landscape of the CRC. 

“Dr. Peter Choi was powerful, insightful, and hopeful as he shared from his experience in Asian congregations. As I preach around, I am grateful for all the Asian, Hispanic, and African pastors and congregations who are entering the CRC. It feels closer to the Pentecost model of the early church and Revelation 7.”

Rev. Ahnna Cho, a Denver, Colo., pastor and seminary program director, reflected on how she, as an Asian American woman in ministry, has had to learn how to navigate racism and sexism as familiar obstacles in both her personal life and professional life. She felt that the conference was a rare opportunity for her to know that she can be fully accepted. 

“At the retreat, I found myself surrounded by other pastors and leaders who also ached for a truly global expression of the gospel of Jesus,” she said. ”There I realized I have peers who also are humbly invested in the vision of the eschatological church. It was a space where we could celebrate one another – a rare gift because many of us have experienced feeling isolated and marginalized in our usual ministry settings.” 

Rev. Kelsi Jones echoed this sentiment, noting that “one of the most meaningful aspects of the retreat for me was being in a space where, as a Black female pastor, I was not in the minority. My cultural background was not only acknowledged but celebrated as a gift.”

She shared as well how rejuvenated she felt going back to her daily pastoral role. 

“The most significant takeaway from our time, for me, was a renewed sense of hope. In a world where we often see declining church attendance, societal divisions, and resistance to new perspectives, this retreat was a beacon of hope for what God is doing in his world, calling people from every tongue, tribe, and nation together to worship,” said Jones. “We left, returning to our homes, churches, jobs, and families, holding on to the promise that we will gather again one day in an even more diverse and glorious assembly before the throne of our good and gracious God.”

“The conference exceeded my expectations,” added Cho, “in that it provided a sacred space where Christian leaders of all racial and ethnic backgrounds could come together and not only celebrate our God-given diversity but also dream of a global church together, akin to the vision we read of in Revelation 7.”

This retreat was sponsored by Resonate, Thrive, and several individual CRC classes.