A Time Apart

Preaching and Worship Planning Retreat

Jesus took time away for prayer and silence before proclaiming to the crowds. You are invited to take time apart in a retreat setting with other colleagues and create long-range plans for worship and preaching.

Each week pastors face the humbling and awesome task of preparing a sermon and worship that touches the lives of worshippers in our congregations. Our perplexing and difficult times call for authentic worship and preaching where people can encounter Christ. Yet, the daily demands of ministry often keep us from having as much time as we would like for sermon and worship preparation, and especially for long range sermon and worship planning. Taking time apart, like Jesus, gives us the opportunity to root our planning in prayer and to open ourselves to the directions of the Spirit.

The retreat will offer:

  • Time to plan worship and preaching for six months to a year in a retreat setting. 
  • Chances to brainstorm and bounce ideas off colleagues and/or plan alone.
  • Blocks of time for planning, spiritual renewal, and rest.
  • Opportunities for morning and evening prayer.
  • An opportunity to preach a short sermon with supportive and constructive feedback. (optional)
  • Seminars on a variety of topics such as preaching in times of conflict and creative ideas for different seasons of the church year. (optional)
  • Handouts and bibliographies (whether attending topical sessions or not).

The basic schedule will be:

  • Breakfast
  • Morning Prayer with preaching (optional)
  • Feedback on preaching (optional)
  • Morning seminars on topics (optional)
  • Lunch
  • Afternoon time for planning, rest, and spiritual renewal
  • Dinner
  • Evening Prayer (optional)
  • Evening topical sessions, or listening to TED Talks and comedians (optional)

Who is it For?

  • For pastors interested in long range worship and preaching planning in a retreat setting with other colleagues.
  • For experienced pastors and those just starting in ministry who want to enhance their gifts in preaching and worship leadership.
  • For solo pastors or pastors of churches with multiple clergy. Clergy from large churches may plan together as a team.
  • For manuscript preachers and those who never write out their sermons; for lectionary preachers and topical preachers; because there is not just one way to plan, prepare, or preach, but each preacher can strengthen his or her own style.

It is recommended that participants have either completed seminary or one-third of their course of study, and have two or more years of pastoral experience.

Retreat Details

Sunday, July 30 (5 p.m.) – Thursday, August 3 (3 p.m.) at Saint Benedict Center, Schuyler, NE.

The cost is $150 (includes lodging and meals) if registered by April 1. Cost is $200 after April 1. Space is limited, so register early! If registration is full, you may be put on a waiting list.

Participants may arrive early or stay for a longer time by making arrangements directly with the retreat center.


Comments from participants from previous A Time Apart retreats

“The topic discussions were very fruitful and informative. Brainstorming truly engaged us and brought incredible resources for the group. I felt that the morning engaged me and powered me for a full afternoon of productivity.”

“I really appreciated the rhythm I was able to set for myself of prayer, planning and self-care. I want to figure out how to take this rhythm with me.”

“I loved it from Sunday eve all the way through.”

“I loved the flexibility offered even within a structure framework. I felt free to participate and take advantage of sessions and prayer while knowing if I needed time to plan or walk the pond that was OK too.”

“The preaching and feedback were great, but also the morning discussion and afternoon blocks of time alone were great.” 

“I can allow myself to have my own style. It doesn’t have to fit something prescribed by others.”

“Thank you so much! I plan to come again!”

Retreat leader

The leader for A Time Apart is Rev. Dr. Theresa Mason. She has a M.Div. and D.Min. from Claremont School of Theology, and a Ph.D. in theatre arts from University of Oregon. Rev. Mason is a retired Great Plains Elder who served as a pastor of churches in Nebraska and California; as chaplain and associate professor of religion at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN; as a visiting instructor at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities; and as director of Earthen Pot Ministries, offering workshops, retreats, writing, and consultation in preaching, worship, and the arts.