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Donors Fund Andover Newton Seminary Retreat
Student-Led Event Held in Mid-February

From Dean Sarah Drummond:

On February 15-16, a group of 10 students and four Andover Newton administrative and faculty leaders traveled to Woodstock, Vermont, for the first annual Andover Newton Seminary retreat.

The idea for a retreat began with one of Andover Newton’s weekly worship services, where student Laura Kisthardt (MDiv ’20) offered a faith testimony where she described retreats as the most formative of her spiritual experiences. After that testimony, several students talked with Laura and with Dean Sarah Drummond about whether a retreat could happen for Andover Newton even in this visioning year. Dean Drummond asked Alumni/ae and Development Officer Ned Parker if a special fund-drive could perhaps support this unbudgeted endeavor. Ned connected Laura’s idea with the School’s outreach on Giving Tuesday, a fund drive the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. The funds raised on Giving Tuesday, as well as the generosity of Martin and Karen Copenhaver, who offered the use of their home as one of the places where students could stay, made possible a beautiful, peaceful, and truly New-Englandy escape from campus.

Laura Kisthardt partnered with Maurice Tiner (MDiv ’20) to organize the trip, recruit participants, and facilitate the retreat itself. Highlights included moments like these: Maurice taught a practice where participants wrote short notes of appreciation – “Warm Fuzzies” – to each other, and the poster quickly overflowed. Professor Mark Heim led students in a Bible study on the Emmaus road story, which is a text central to Andover Newton’s life at Yale, but one participants saw through new eyes in Mark’s exegesis and discussion leadership. Dean Sarah Drummond used ideas from discussion of the Bible passage to write two new verses to a favorite Emmaus song, and retreat music leader Martine Bruno (MDiv ’20) led the group in singing these new creations. President Martin Copenhaver led a worship service during which participants chose artistic renderings of Jesus from a variety of books of prints and then shared which images spoke to them.

Students have already expressed a hope that next year’s retreat will be longer, and thus a new tradition begins.

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