This last January we had the annual graduate fellows retreat. We had 35 fellows from 14 different chapters and universities converge on the Au Sable campus in Mancelona, MI for a time of fellowship and fun in the snowy north woods.
This year we had the opportunity to hear from three of our current fellows, Paul Simonin (Cornell University), Rachel Lamb (University of Maryland), and Kiara Jorgensen (University of Minnesota). It was encouraging to hear stories about the work being done by our fellow colleagues and to see examples of how they are living out their calling to care for creation in a relevant, sincere, and impacting way. In the sessions we heard stories from Kenya, Indonesia, Alaska, and Lake Champlain. We were challenged to wrestle with not only knowing rightly, but to also doing rightly in a messy and broken world where we are called be tough minded and tender hearted while communicating between the seemingly distant worlds of faith and secular academia.
The conversations and discussions weren't restricted to the formal sessions, but naturally spilled over into all of the different recreational opportunities in the north woods. There was ample time to carry on learning and laughing while snow-shoeing, birding, cross-country skiing, playing board games, or relaxing around the fire in lodge. Overall, this year’s retreat gave us the opportunity to encourage and challenge each other, learn from each other, and worship together, all while enjoying the glory of God's creation.
The weekend wouldn't have been possible without the work of many. Fred Van Dyke the current Executive Director of Au Sable, Eric Bond, the Director of Support Services, and Paul Wiemerslage, the Environmental Education Program Coordinator, did a wonderful job of making us feel welcome and made sure we enjoyed everything that Au Sable had to offer. There were also many people behind the scenes that made the retreat a success, and it goes without saying that the entire Au Sable staff did a fantastic job keeping everyone fuelled with delicious food and a constant supply of hot beverages. Everyone was very kind, accommodating, and overall fantastic hosts. It’s a shame we only do this retreat once a year!
*A big thanks to Nick Babladelis for taking these fantastic pictures of our weekend!