A retreat designed specifically for a community of faith.
A spiritual retreat provides the opportunity for time away from your daily routine and into a sacred container of peaceful reflection, prayer, experiences and renewal. It’s a powerful way to grow deeper in faith together. When a community of faith goes on retreat together, it plants seeds of lasting transformation in the participants which benefits the church and the wider world.
As an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ for over 23 years, I bring my faith, leadership abilities, experience, love of God’s church, and openness to God’s Spirit.
In my retreat leadership I am attentive to the flow of group dynamics, provide in-depth leadership, and make it fun, experiential, in-depth, restful, and rejuvenating. My retreats are enjoyed by both extroverts and introverts alike with a balance of group connectional experiences as well as individual reflection time.
“Where two or three [or more!] are gathered,” God is in the midst of them.
While on retreat, we can be sure that God’s Spirit will show up to delight, surprise, and inspire us. We can plan on unexpected “God moments” during the retreat! It happens every time.
Women from First Congregational UCC, Appleton, WI on retreat with Manda at Moon Beach Camp, St. Germain, WI
in-pRetreat locations, length, and logistics
NOTE: In this time of physical distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, I offer Spirit-filled virtual retreats for those who wish to gather in a sacred container of support from the safety and comfort of their homes. These virtual gatherings have provided meaning and solace to my participants, and I invite you to consider this modality for your group. Participants in my recent virtual gatherings have reported that they:
- Reconnected with their purpose and passion
- Paused to get in tune with their soul and what is important in their life
- Received a renewed sense of hope.
- Felt grounded during this uncertain time of shelter in place
- Found connection and community
- Received healing messages that Manda shared with the group
I work with church groups (women’s groups, inter-generational groups, combined men’s and women’s groups) in a location of your choosing and planning. The church is responsible for setting up the logistics, travel, lodging, and meals, and other arrangements for the group.
When it’s safe to return to in-person gatherings, suggested settings for retreats can include:
- Your church or a partner church
- Church camp
- Retreat Center
- Hotel or resort
- Private home with appropriate space to accommodate the group
Your church can contact me to check on my availability to lead your retreat or to inquire about other details. I encourage at least three months lead-time in order to plan for your in-person retreat, and six weeks to plan for your virtual retreat.
The length of retreats varies. I can tailor the content for:
- Full day
- One overnight
- Two or two and a half days
- Three days
- Up to five days
My retreats include a blend of the following:
- Relevant scripture readings and teachings
- Walking the labyrinth
- Small group exercises and discussion
- Individual writing prompts and questions to reflect on
- Music and singing
- Singing bowls
- Gentle body movement
- Art and creativity experiences
- Silent reflection
- Reflective listening
- Guided meditation
- Prayer services
- Closing communion service
What others are saying
“Manda’s retreat helped me to relax and leave the stress of the work week behind me. She gave us techniques to help us relax and be present. She was mindful of the introverts in the group; there was no pressure to engage unless we wanted to. Manda was able to make the women in the retreat feel comfortable so they could open up and share their experiences and feelings that they felt they couldn’t share at home. It was a safe place. I benefited from hearing from these other women and learned from them. Manda is good at reading the group to see where they want to go and what they want to do. She makes retreats enjoyable, relaxing, and insightful. Manda is a good, compassionate leader and I would recommend her with any group.”
—Becky Brubaker, First Congregational UCC, Appleton, Wisconsin
If your group has a chosen or preferred theme, I will gladly work with your topic. Otherwise I can offer the following spiritual themes that allow you to go deep in faith exploration.
1. Divine Guidance and Grace: Be Still and Know that I am God (Psalm 46)
When was the last time you were truly still? How do you perceive God’s presence and guidance? Has it been a long time since you’ve truly paused and listened for God’s guidance? How can you trust that God will meet you with loving grace and guidance when you are still?
In our fast-paced world, we often forget to pause and connect with God, even though we know that it benefits us when we do. We will explore the beautiful Psalm 46 as it applies to our lives today. Reflecting on the different forms that stillness can take in our lives, we’ll learn how to incorporate more ways to connect with God and perceive God’s guidance and grace. A variety of retreat activities will gently invite participants to explore the place spiritual stillness even in the midst of a busy or stressful day. Retreat participants will feel blessed, rested, inspired, and strengthened in our time together. God’s divine guidance and grace will ripple out from our lives into our families, church, friends, workplaces, neighborhoods, and the world.
2. Sabbath-Keeping and Prayer-Living (Exodus 20:8)
How many of us remember that taking time for Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments? What does this mean to people of faith in the 21st century? How might we grow in our prayer lives? Where can we create more sabbath in our lives?
At a time when our pace seems to be ever-quickening, the need for intentional rest and prayer is essential, but they are often placed on the back burner. We will explore the scriptural commandment for Sabbath and apply it directly to our lives. Reflecting on different forms of prayer, we’ll connect with our unique ways of relating with God. A variety of retreat activities will gently invite participants to explore the place of Sabbath and prayer in everyday life. Our time together will gift us with some new ideas and a renewed commitment for grounding ourselves in Sabbath and prayer. Retreat participants will experience blessing, rest, inspiration, and strength for their ongoing journey in our time together.
3. Dreams: A Window to our Spiritual Wholeness (Genesis 37-44, Matthew 1:20)
One-third of our lives are spent in sleep. How might God be speaking to us in our unconscious hours? What do biblical accounts of dreams reveal to us?
Drawing on scripture, Jungian psychology, and personal accounts, participants will engage in a variety of retreat activities that will explore dreams as a tool for deeper spiritual reflection. In the Old Testament we read that Joseph, the son of Jacob, was gifted at dream interpretation. In the New Testament we read that another Joseph, the father of Jesus, was visited by God in a dream. Let us ponder these and other scriptural accounts of the place of dreams in our lives. Participants do not need to be able to remember their dreams in order to benefit from this retreat, however participation in this retreat has led some people to gain new access to their dreams. Retreat participants will learn a powerful method to interpret their dreams and use them for insight into their current lives.
Benefits of a Retreat
- Make new friends
- Acquaintances become lasting friends
- Time apart from usual routine allows for more space to perceive God’s guidance and grace
- Explore the intersection of God’s love with your life and church
- Relax into a safe space for sharing and listening to one another
- Participants provide mutual support for one another
- Learn more about one another’s faith journeys
- New ideas are generated for the life and work of the church
- Enthusiasm (literally meaning Divine Inspiration, “en-theos”) increases for ministry and mission
- New calls to leadership and service may be heard and affirmed
Contact Manda for more information.
Manda Stack is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ for 23 years. She last served as Pastor at Union Grove Congregational UCC and Raymond Community Church UCC. She has held leadership positions in a variety of settings in the Wisconsin Conference UCC including as a Facilitator for Communities of Practice, Moderator of the Southeast Association, State Women’s Committee, Chairperson of the Conference Nominating Committee, and Facilitator for the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations program. She served locally as the Vice President of the Union Grove Area Foodbank. She led a pastor’s group on a “reverse mission trip” to Chiapas Mexico. (see more about Manda below)
Rev. Manda Stack brings her skilled leadership to groups on retreat
Rev. Stack enjoys working ecumenically with a variety of churches and faith groups, as well as in inter-faith programs.
She received her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Wisconsin – Green Bay, and her Master of Divinity degree from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Rev. Stack was guided and grounded in faith from a young age in her home church, the United Church of Christ in Delavan, Wisconsin. Her passion is helping people connect with their Divine guidance and inner wisdom to live lives of joy, compassion, service, and connection. She lives in Burlington, Wisconsin and enjoys walking, reading, travel, art, and leading retreats.