Rock Eagle men's retreat celebrates 50 years of life-changing ministry


   For Cary Loesing, the power of the Rock Eagle men’s retreat is not in the decades it has endured, but in the impact on individual lives.
         “When I think of some of the remarkable stories I have heard, I can feel the little hairs on the back of my neck stand up,” said Loesing, executive director of United Methodist Men (UMM) for the North Georgia Conference. “I never get tired hearing about the miraculous events that have taken place.”
      As the Rock Eagle men’s retreat celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, UMM has been gathering testimonials from past participants.
       “Many men have said they were called into ministry while attending the retreat,” Loesing said. “In one case, a man said he received a call at Rock Eagle and ignored it, then came back 10-12 years later and felt a tug on his heart as he walked past the chapel. He finally accepted his call.”
         The men have gathered there every fall since 1961, with the exception of 2005, when Rock Eagle was cancelled to allow the camp to be used to house refugees from Hurricane Katrina.     
      The 2011 event, Sept. 23-25, will feature several special events to highlight the anniversary. Walt Boyd, chairman for the Retreats Committee, has been gathering information to be presented in a historical pamphlet that will include a listing of past Rock Eagle Speakers, past Conference Presidents for UMM, past Executive Directors, and UMM who have received the Society of John Wesley Awards.  
       Loesing said he has been encouraged by the interest generated in the 2011 anniversary gathering.
      “We have been getting a lot of requests from churches for members of our leadership team to come and talk about the retreat,” he said. “A lot churches in the North Georgia Conference sponsor their own men’s retreats but we are a connectional system and know there is a great benefit in us gathering together.
        “We encourage churches to hold their own men’s retreat in the spring and also attend Rock Eagle in the fall.”
           Dr. Timothy Tennent, president of Asbury Theological Seminary, will be keynote speaker. Tennent, who  grew up in Atlanta as a member of Grace UMC, will be teaching under the theme: "Back To The Future."
          The retreat will feature about 18 workshops, Bible study on the lake with Carey Gibson, cabin sharing, praise services in the chapel, a golf tournament, a prayer and fasting event at Collinswood, beginning Thursday at 6 p.m. led by Tommy Hays, and the Red Cross bloodmobile.
      Music will be provided by Crystal River, CrossWalk, Ralph Freeman -- for the 42nd year in a row -- and a volunteer choir.
          The registration form can be found at  Costs for the full lodging and meals is $165. You can register for the Cross & Flame run and T-Shirt, EMS, and golf.  If you have any questions call Loesing or Judy Koch at 678-533-1455.