By Kay Hereford Voorhees
I was skeptical when members of our congregation returned from SOULfeast several years ago claiming it was the “best family vacation ever.” As a mom, pastor, and veteran of countless retreats, conferences, and stressful family vacations, I doubted that this event was unique. I was wrong. Our July pilgrimage to SOULfeast at Lake Junaluska has since become a treasured family tradition. Not only is it fun; it helps us all grow in love with God, others, each other, and our inner selves.
SOULfeast creates space in our hearts and lives for God’s movement. I’m no longer surprised that God re-shapes me at my point of need when I’m there. One year when I brought deep emotional wounds with me to SOULfeast, my broken heart was restored through the keynotes, worship, and workshops. The year I came seeking to enrich our congregation’s discipleship ministry, I learned ways to incorporate creative spiritual practices into a comprehensive, transformative “discipleship system.” When my faith was “flat,” Trevor Hudson’s words reached into my secret soul, awakening me to a profound word from God. Every summer I arrive at Lake in a different mental and spiritual place, and five days later I arrive home again rested and renewed.
Children and youth are not an afterthought at SOULfeast. The youth ministry is so engaging that our teenager Grace rushes to join it the moment we arrive. After that, we only see her across the auditorium during “all-ages” times, at meals, and when she comes “home” to sleep each night. Our younger daughter Anna, surrounded by SOULfeast’s caring community, enjoys a level of independence she seldom achieves at home. She has experimented with spiritual practices ranging from quiet mediation to artwork to hula-hooping! SOULfeast gives both of our daughters room to discover their own living faith.
This year’s SOULfeast promises to be another life-changing experience for families, church leaders, and individuals there on retreat. Trevor Hudson, an extraordinary pastor and author, will return from South Africa to teach and preach around the theme, “The Invitations of Jesus.” His messages will be compelling and grace-full. Please join us on July 10-14, 2011! Visit www.upperroom.org/soulfeast for more information.