Furlough retreat 2020 safely overcomes virus concerns
When Juli Duvall-Jones, CMF’s Director of Missionary Care and Development, scheduled the 2020 Furlough Retreat for all missionaries who were planning to be in the U.S. this summer, she had no idea that COVID-19 would still be impacting the U.S. in such a devastating way.
“As we drew closer to the beginning of the retreat, we reevaluated the situation and considered cancelling it,” she said. “It was a tough decision. We want to care for the physical health of our missionaries, but we also want to care for their emotional, spiritual and relational health as well. So, we decided to go ahead with the retreat implementing some COVID-19 safety guidelines.”
Eleven missionaries and their 11 children agreed that the rewards were worth the risk and gathered in Indianapolis July 26-30 for a time of study, activities, fellowship and worship.
The theme of the event was “Exploring Grief, Extending Grace and Expressing Gratitude,” and speakers included Tim Ross of Hopwood Christian Church, Milligan College, Tennessee; Dr. Kip Lines, CMF’s Executive Director; and several other CMF staff members. Special kids’ and teen events included a water carnival and movie afternoon, a girls’ spa day, and other field trips.
While the pandemic was on everyone’s mind, it didn’t dampen the fellowship.
“This virus may be around for a while and we need to creatively think of ways we can gather and go about life while still keeping everyone as healthy as possible,” said Juli. “There were definitely awkward moments — singing outside socially distanced, wearing masks for trivia night, serving communion with gloves — but the benefits of being together definitely outweighed the ‘Coronawkwardness’ of it all.
“I think everyone left feeling more connected, refreshed and better equipped for the Kingdom work we are all doing together,” she added. “And, thankfully, no one came down with the virus!”