Friday, March 13
8:30 am - 8:30 pm Retreat Day
at Western Theological Seminary
Stories have incredible power. They offer a safe vehicle to share personal experiences, hopes and dreams. They break down barriers and connect diverse people. They educate and inspire. They are tools for lasting change because they transform and renew. It’s no wonder that Jesus taught through stories!
Women from the RCA, CRC and our ecumenical friends are welcome to join us for this one day retreat to celebrate, encourage and empower each other, our ministries and our callings.
We want to give all women a place to speak their truths, share joys and frustrations, and traverse challenging perspectives and belief systems, while restoring determination, patience and hope for our journey and finding new opportunities to become agents for change.
This full day retreat will include worship, interactive sessions, sharing from church leaders, personal reflection time, delicious healthy meals and plenty of opportunity for connecting with one another in a relaxed, collaborative environment. We will leave this day with tangible next steps on how to be co-creators with God in the on-going work of transformation, leadership and mission.
Co-leaders Rev. Liz Testa, Coordinator of Women's Transformation and Leadership, and Spiritual Director, Lesley Mazzotta will be joined by guest speakers Dr. Carol Bechtel, Rev. Denise Kingdom-Grier, and Rev. Jessica Shults.
Registration for this gathering is now closed. You can find a schedule of the day below.
Rev. Liz Testa serves as the RCA's coordinator for Women's Transformation and Leadership, a role to which she feels passionately called. Rev. Testa spent 12 years on staff at Marble Collegiate Church in NYC working in many areas including women's ministry, church growth and hospitality, family worship, 60+ fellowship, couples and the media ministry, where she hosted Marble's weekly live-streamed program. Liz's first career was as a professional actor and spokesperson, and she constantly delights at how God used her experiences in show business to prepare her for ministry. She holds a BFA from Syracuse University and an M.Div from the Drew Theological School in Madison, NJ. Liz grew up in New York and Spain, and currently lives in South Orange, NJ with her husband Nick, their two lively daughters and even livelier dog, Max.
Lesley Mazzotta is an innovative and dynamic spiritual director, educator and writer with 15 years of experience conceiving and producing unique programming, theatrical events and creative learning curriculum. Currently, she serves as Director of Spiritual Formation at Community Reformed Church in New York, where she brings together children, youth and adults in year-round, interdenominational spiritual formation programming to inspire personal enrichment, community building and deeper connection to God. Lesley's greatest passion is engaging people of all ages in thought-provoking, faithful conversations about 21st century challenges - bullying, self-esteem, identity/body image, healthy relationships, authentic leadership, love. To that end, she designs and leads vibrant workshops, retreats, seminars and trainings around the country and writes educational curriculum and activity guides on a variety of important societal topics. Lesley has a Certificate of Spiritual Direction from General Theological Seminary and is a member of APCE (American Presbyterian Christian Educators), FORMA and SDI (Spiritual Directors International).
The Rev. Dr. Carol Bechtel is Professor of Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan. Before joining Western's faculty in 1994, Carol Bechtel taught at the Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, Virginia. She has also served as a teaching fellow at Yale Divinity School and as interim pastor of Turn of River Presbyterian Church in Stamford, Connecticut. Dr. Bechtel preaches and teaches widely and is a General Synod Professor of Theology in the Reformed Church in America. She recently served as President of the RCA’s General Synod and moderator of its General Synod Council. She serves on the Executive Committee of the American Waldensian Society and the Board of the Holland Chorale.
Dr. Bechtel has written several books, including:
- Esther: A Commentary for Teaching and Preaching (Interpretation, WJK, 2002),
- Glimpses of Glory (WJK, 1998)
- Life After Grace (WJK, 2003).
She served as the editor for and a contributor to Touching the Altar: The Old Testament for Christian Worship (Eerdmans, 2008). Dr. Bechtel has also published five Bible study curricula including:
- Hallelujah! The Bible and Handel's Messiah (Kerygma, 1995),
- Sowing Tears, Reaping Joy: The Bible and Brahms' Requiem (Kerygma, 1996),
- Job and the Life of Faith: Wisdom for Today's World (Kerygma, 2004),
- Above and Beyond: Hearing God’s Call in Jonah and Ruth. (Horizons, 2007), and
- Living in Community (Faith Alive Publications, 2008)
Rev. Denise Kingdom Grier is the lead pastor at Maple Avenue Ministries, a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-generational congregation in Holland, Michigan. Maple Avenue is the first union church of the Reformed Church in America and the Christian Reformed Church. Rev. Grier graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, NC where she received a BA in psychology. After functioning as a social worker for many years she went on to become the first African American female to graduate from Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan with a Master of Divinity degree. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Ministry to study apartheid in the American church toward the development of an embracing model of ministry. She is a dynamic, anointed preacher, teacher and pastor. For four years she served as chair of the diversity team for Western Theological Seminary and consultant to the president on matters of diversity for two years. Rev. Grier has committed her life to proclaiming the gospel of peace and justice. She is the wife of CJ Kingdom Grier and the mother of two biological children as well as a host of other foster and surrogate children who have shared her life and home.
Rev. Jess Shults has served in a pastoral role at SRC for the past 10 years and as the lead Pastor for the last four. She is originally from the Grandville area, but spent her high school years in Waupun, Wisconsin. Pastor Jess and Matt Shults (Director of Student Ministries & Outreach) have two boys, 9 and 6 who attend Cummings School. Their family enjoys camping, boating, and playing sports. Jess is a graduate of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa with a degree in Christian Education and Religion and Western Theological Seminary, in Holland, Michigan. She feels deeply privileged to serve a very courageous congregation who have committed to serving the community in significant ways. Rev. Shults is also a leader in the Ridder Church Renewal process which is committed to personal and congregational transformation. Fulfilling the role of Pastor offers such cherished opportunities to live life deeply with members and have the opportunity for a front row seat to how God literally transforms lives. After years of saying she would never be a traditional minister or serve a church in this capacity she is overwhelmed at the joy experienced from the life she is called to live.