Women in the area are invited to “recharge” when St. Paul Lutheran Church in Defiance hosts its 11th annual Recharge women’s retreat Feb. 1-2.

What began from the blueprint for Christ Renews His Parish retreats, has become a spirit-filled event for women featuring God, faith, fun and good food.

The theme for this year’s retreat is 2020 Perfect Vision, and interested parties can register online at rechargewomensretreat2020.evenbrite.com. The event is held at the church, located at 671 Clinton St. in Defiance.

In 2004, Julie Sasseen of St. Paul Lutheran was invited to a retreat in Hicksville that led to her starting the Recharge women’s retreat at St. Paul’s.

“My sister invited me to that retreat, and I almost canceled on her, but I thought she’d be mad,” said Sasseen. “That experience intensified, for me, what I thought was an already good faith life. I think that happens when people come to this retreat, people who come with a strong faith leave with a stronger faith, and people who come when their faith is weak, leave with their faith strengthened.

“I knew after that experience, it was something we needed to start here,” added Sasseen. “I think at times we come to church and feel very lonely, and we just don’t get to know each other. This retreat is for women who go to church, and for women who don’t attend church. This retreat allows women to take off their masks, to get to know each other, and to hear stories about faith from people in their community that are profoundly moving.”

The retreat begins Feb. 1 at 8 a.m., and finishes Feb. 2 at 3:30 p.m. Participants are invited to spend the night, and those that do are asked to bring a change of clothes, toiletries and a sleeping bag.

All meals, snacks and beverages are provided, and there is no cost to attend.

“Whenever someone asks me about the retreat, I tell them it’s a weekend filled with prayer, with worship, that it’s an opportunity to make new friends, and that we have awesome food,” said team member Stacy Barker, spiritual director of the retreat. “It’s an amazing experience where you feel the Holy Spirit move in you, and every year is something new.

“The chance to hear women share how Christ has worked in their lives is amazing,” continued Barker. “We want women to understand they don’t have to share their stories if they don’t want to, that’s up to them. It’s also a weekend of ‘get-to’s’ and not ‘got-to’s,’ there’s no requirement to how much you have to participate. We ask that women come and see what it’s all about, no matter where they are in their faith journey.”

Pastor Dave Brobston of St. Paul Lutheran takes part in the retreat every year. He explained he’s always amazed at the end of the event.

“You see amazing things happen over the course of the weekend, but the biggest thing I see at the end of the weekend, is that you had folks walk in at the beginning that didn’t want to be here, who were intimidated, scared and felt like they don’t belong, and by the end of it, nobody wants to leave because they’ve connected with other people in the room,” said Brobston. “It’s a wonderful and beautiful microcosm of community being built.

“It’s an incredible moment of the movement of God’s spirit, when a group of folks from divergent cultural backgrounds, divergent economic backgrounds, divergent religious backgrounds and experiences, come together to become a wonderful in-breaking of the Kingdom of God,” added Brobston. “It’s amazing to see everyone truly become a community of faith.”

Sasseen and Barker reiterated that all women are invited and welcome to attend, and to not be afraid of what they know will be a wonderful experience.

“I tell people all the time to just give it chance ... just give a couple of hours,” Sasseen said. “I know that if you come, you will not leave.”

Said Barker: “Set your fears aside, take a leap of faith and open yourself up to a wonderful experience, it’s something you won’t regret. It can be scary, but the Holy Spirit takes over and allows things to happen you didn’t know were even possible.”

Following this year’s Recharge retreat, the team will take a pause and not host a retreat next year, so it too can “Recharge” before starting again.

“As we look back at creation, on the seventh day, God rested,” said Brobston. “We’ve come together for what will be 11 years and talked about God’s grace, God’s love, God’s mercy and God’s care, and in the midst of that it’s time for us to honor what we’ve been talking about and take a sabbath ourselves. A time to pause, rest, reflect and to regroup, so that we can come back in a new, strong way, better than ever.”

For more information, or to register by phone, contact Sasseen at 419-956-1267.

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