Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously and quite rightly said “Christianity without discipleship is always Christianity without Christ.”
Elgin Church members, families and friends were thrilled to be part of the spiritually enriching experience that unfolded during the recent Elgin Church Discipleship Retreat at Fort Augustus Chalet Park, which took place from August 25th to 28th, 2023. This retreat was a remarkable opportunity for us to come together as a community, deepen our relationships with one another, and embark on a journey of faith and friendship that left an indelible mark on our hearts. The group of 21 included 4 non-Adventists who were invited to join and enjoy the friendships that were about to blossom.
Friday Evening: Harmony in Worship and Connection
Our retreat commenced with a Friday evening gathering that set the tone for the entire weekend. As the sun dipped below the horizon, our voices joined in a chorus of Christian songs, echoing in the crisp evening air. The melodies served as a powerful reminder of our unity in faith and the beauty of coming together in worship.
Following the uplifting singing session, a short but impactful devotion was shared, grounding us in the spiritual purpose of our retreat. With hearts open, we delved into the Word, finding strength and inspiration to guide us through the upcoming days.
To foster new connections and strengthen existing ones, interactive activities were organized, allowing everyone to break down barriers and get to know one another in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. Laughter and conversations flowed freely, forming the foundation for deeper relationships to flourish over the weekend.
Saturday: Embracing Sabbath Worship and God's Creation
Saturday morning greeted us with a sense of reverence as we engaged in a Sabbath worship session. In the heart of nature, under the open sky, we collectively praised and thanked our Creator for His blessings and grace.
Later, we embarked on a breathtaking boat trip on the tranquil waters of Loch Ness. As the majestic Scottish landscape unfolded before our eyes, we marvelled at the intricate beauty that God has woven into His creation. The experience was a poignant reminder of the divine artistry that surrounds us and an opportunity to connect with God on a profound level.
Sunday: Exploring History and Nurturing Bonds
Sunday was dedicated to exploration and fellowship. A guided walking tour took us through the historic sites of Fort Augustus, allowing us to immerse ourselves in the rich history of the area and gain a deeper understanding of its significance.
The adventurous spirit within our group led some of our members to embark on a partial ascent of Ben Nevis, a testament to the shared enthusiasm for growth and challenge. This physical journey mirrored our spiritual journey, reminding us of the rewards that await when we strive toward higher goals.
A highlight of the day was our excursion to Glenfinnan, where we gathered to witness the iconic Hogwarts Express passing over the viaduct. The symbolism of this moment was not lost on us – just as the train embarked on its magical journey, we too were on a journey of spiritual growth, friendship, and discipleship.
Nurturing Relationships and Strengthening Faith
Beyond the stunning landscapes and enriching activities, the core purpose of this retreat was to deepen our bonds and foster lasting connections. Throughout the weekend, we were blessed with moments of prayer, worship, and Bible conversations, providing us with a space to grow spiritually and strengthen our understanding of God's Word.
For some, this retreat marked the beginning of their discipleship journey, while for others, it was an opportunity to solidify and enrich the path they are already on. As we engaged in heartfelt discussions and listened to the Word preached, we were reminded of the importance of community and shared spiritual growth.
Gratitude and Moving Forward
With hearts full of gratitude and spirits uplifted, we concluded our Elgin Church Discipleship Retreat on a high note. On the morning of Monday 28th August the group got together for a final prayer to conclude the event as everyone headed back to their homes. The friendships forged, the lessons learned, and the moments of spiritual connection will continue to inspire and guide us in the days, weeks, and years to come.
As we return to our daily lives, let us carry with us the spirit of unity, the love of God's creation, and the fervour for discipleship that we experienced during this retreat. May our relationships continue to deepen and may our journey of faith be fortified by the memories we've shared and the bonds we've formed.
The non-Adventist friends that joined us for the retreat said they would be very happy to visit the Adventist church and would also come along to another similar event in the future. They were all uplifted by the warmth and hospitality of the church members which they felt was refreshing when so many people are faced with so much isolation and loneliness.
Until we gather again for another chapter in our journey of discipleship, let us walk forward with hearts ablaze with faith and fellowship.