Men's Retreat 2016

Friday, January 22 & Saturday, January 23, 2016  Bryncliff Resort, Varysburg, New York
Room Reservations must be made by Monday, January 4th. Space is limited! Download your Reservation form HERE.


Digging Deeper into Gratitude: A Powerful Tool for Living

This year's retreat will emphasize fellowship, reflection, discovery and interaction. We will use articles, excerpts, poetry and a survey as background for our discussions that will expand on the following topics. Pre-reading is encouraged but not a requirement. Download reading material HERE

Room Reservations must be made by 
Friday Night
5:00 - 8:00PM: Greetings/Snacks/Dinner (Sierra Room)  There will be a sign-up for snack/beverage contributions

8:00 - 9:30 PM (Sierra Room)
Session 1: Perspectives on Gratitude
Facilitator: Chris LaMendola

"I'm sometimes grumpier when I stay at a nice hotel" writes David Brooks in his New York Times Opinion titled The Structure of Gratitude. He observes "how powerfully expectations structure our moods and emotions, none more so than the beautiful emotion of gratitude." Tom Yorty expands this notion by pointing out that Paul tells us how to acquire a grateful disposition: "give thanks always to God for everything." Never lose sight of God; never forget that God is beside you, that God is present all the time.

Saturday Morning
8:00 - 9:30 AM (Grill Room)
Session 2: Gratitude Springs from Attentiveness
Facilitator: Allan Hayes and John McClive

In her book Lost in Wonder, Esther de Waal shows us ways into a fuller and deeper sense of attentiveness to the world around us and to the presence of God in that world. As she observes, "if we fail to find the time to stand back, to give ourselves a break, a breathing space, we are in danger of failing to be fully alive, or to enjoy that fullness of life for which we were created."

9:30 - 10:30 Breakfast Buffet
10:30 - 12:00 (Grill Room)
Session 3: Aging Well: Gratitude and Confessions
Facilitator: Fred Cooley

Completing the Graceful Aging Scale from the George Vaillant book, Aging Well can be done in less than 10 minutes. The power of the scale is reminding us what might be the origins of our gratitude, and giving us a personal perspective on the important developmental tasks, such as identity, intimacy, and generativity (giving to the next generation).

We will also look at our prayer life, in which we are asked to express our gratitude (See "Prayer" in the Book of Order). We are also asked to include confession, often expanded to sins of commission OR omission.  Only by including confession in our reflections of gratitude can we understand and accept that we are capable of destroying those things most responsible for our gratitude, and that continuing confession is required for our salvation and ensuring a future that includes that for which we can be grateful.

12:00 - 12:30 Wrap Up
Available to those who sign up:
A Reading Packet that will be helpful to read before coming to the retreat
Article: Four Components of Gratitude
Tom's Sermon: It Needn't Have Happened Nor Will It Be Repeated (August 16, 2015)
David Brooks' July 28, 2015 New York Times Opinion: The Structure of Gratitude
Excerpts from Esther deWaal's Lost in Wonder, Rediscovering the Spiritual Art
of Attentiveness

Further Readings for Deeper Explorations
Lost in Wonder: Rediscovering the Spiritual Art of Attentiveness by Esther de Wall
The Givenness of Things:Essays by Marilynne Robinson
(Both books are available on

Directions to: Bryncliff Resort
2357 Humphrey Road , Varysburg, NY 14167
(585) 535-7300

        • Rt. 190 South to Rt. 90 West - toward Erie
        • Exit 54 onto Rt. 400
        • Exit U.S. 20A, NY 78 towards East Aurora
        • Follow Rt. 20A (11 miles)
        •Right turn onto Humphrey Road

Program Committee:
Chuck Akers, Fred Cooley, Allan Hayes, Chris LaMendola,
John McClive, Tom Yorty


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