“The weekend was an opportunity to re-examine my life and make note of the adjustments that I want to see take place. It was a space where I felt totally part of a family atmosphere that I had missed so much. It felt like coming home.” -Yoshie M., New York
by FFWPU USA, Kester Wilkening and Tasnah Moyer: From April 22-24, 39 participants and staff gathered at Refreshing Mountain for the second annual Connecting Our Roots (COR) Emerge Retreat, a rejuvenating weekend in the Poconos mountains of Pennsylvania. Attendees came from Virginia, DC, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut; their backgrounds included engineering, education, finance, media and marketing, non-profit, and the military.
The weekend was framed around the retreat mission statement: To create an opportunity for people to relax in nature, connect with other working professionals, and delve into and nurture connections with the community and God.
Activities included hiking, volleyball, round table discussions, insightful presentations, testimonies, and time to relax and reflect. Participants were able to discuss the challenges they’re facing in their careers or lives of faith, and articulate the values that are most important to them. The schedule gave attendees a chance to relax with their peers, share their visions for the future, and connect with one another on a deeper level. Components such as the Saturday evening program left participants “realizing how valuable community and family are” (Hana B., Maryland).
For many, it was an “opportunity to evaluate [their] spiritual journey over the past year, evaluate where [they are] at today, and learn how other people tackled similar experiences in their soul journeys” (Randy P., Pennsylvania).
Participants were encouraged to honor where each individual was at in their journey of growth and discovery, to listen and be inspired by ”the participants, the variety of perspectives shared, and the level of maturity and experience that accompanied each person’s story” (Katya B., New Jersey).
“It was a place for me to connect with people associated with or formerly associated with the Unification movement,” said Vanessa, a participant from Maryland. “We were atheist, agnostic, Unificationists, and somewhere in between. It was refreshing to hear everyone’s perspectives and I was surprised about what I learned about myself when I opened up. I reconnected with old friends and met lots of new people.”
The retreat was independently organized and funded by Connecting Our Roots (COR), a group from New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania (meet the Board and the Emerge Retreat team) who strive to create experiences that can meet the needs of working professionals in their 20’s and 30’s of the Unificationist community. The next COR Retreat is happening in April 2017!