By Jennifer Dale, DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council Director
The New Testament call to be in this world, but not of it, resonated throughout this year’s DiscoveryBound National Leadership Council All Class Retreat (ACR). Participants focused on the theme of “Genuine Goodness” as a vital healing perspective the world needs. Through a preparatory assignment as well as discussions at ACR, participants were challenged to engage in and contribute to the world around them while remaining untouched by the images and pressure it presents.
More than 340 guests took part in the 2015 ACR, including 28 graduating seniors, their parents and mentors; eight NLC alumni; 177 current students; and other mentors and guests. Mentors from younger classes sited how grateful they were to gain context for the experience ahead by joining their students in class time.
Throughout the weekend, classes came together to launch into new curriculum, prepare for upcoming summer trips, recognize Congressional Award achievements, report on last summer’s experiences and share best practices. Most important, classes took advantage of being together to dive into deep discussion around the similar challenges they face – and to find spiritual solutions together. This meeting time is what students say they enjoy most about their time together at ACR – helping each other put Christian Science into practice in their daily lives.
Graduates from the 2015 classes shared program lessons and highlights with parents and mentors, and they talked about their final curriculum centered on praying for the world. As part of the ongoing support these graduates receive, they heard from organizations providing opportunities for them to continue to engage and feel supported after NLC, such as Asher House, Principia College, The Albert Baker Fund and TMC Youth. In particular, they were excited about the NLC Alumni Initiative’s first service trip, scheduled for late May.
A highlight of the weekend was Abe McLaughlin’s keynote talk, which came up in many conversations over the next two days. Drawing on his past experience as a correspondent in the U.S. and Africa for the The Christian Science Monitor and his current tenure on the Monitor’s content strategy team, Abe shared his perspective on NLC and the theme of ACR as “turning mentally away from a mortal, limited, material view of the world – and opening ourselves to see that God is in charge of everything; that He’s completely good; and that He loves each of us, all of us, always.”
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