Retreat Speakers and Workshop Leaders

Margie Sims, Keynote Speaker

Although she currently resides in Fairhope, Alabama, Margie lived in Vermont for over 5 years and was an integral part of Essex Alliance Church. She has 10 children from ages 32 to 7 and she loves helping women with their parenting challenges: tricky two-year-olds, a middle schooler you no longer recognize, or what to teach your young adult before he leaves the nest. She’ll be exploring these topics at a Q&A breakout session.

Her main topic for the weekend will focus on the Fruit of the Spirit found in Galatians 5: love, kindness, gentleness, and goodness just to name a few.  No matter what season of life you find yourself in, healthy relationships are impossible without the Fruit of the Spirit. Margie will offer practical advice on filling the fruit bowls in our souls so that they overflow to everyone around us. We hope you’ll join us.  

Heather Clifford, Workshop Leader 

Heather is a wife, and mother of three beautiful children, Shyla, Landon, and Aubree, who have radically changed her life. Heather has led various adult and middle school bible studies, throughout the ye
ars.  She is an aspiring speaker and writer, and has penned two books, not yet published. Heather loves sharing her story about how God has gradually changed her view of Him, and her past, by gently revealing, healing, and transforming her life.  

“Sowing Seeds”

Workshop Description: We all have a desire to share our stories. In this workshop we will learn how to break these stories down into palatable pieces. We will discover how Jesus didn’t always use words to show His love; sometimes a simple hug, touch, or smile can be a display of Jesus love more than our stories ever could.  

Jill Ash, Workshop Leader

Jill Ash and her husband moved to Vermont 12 years ago. Immediately after they married, and promised they wouldn’t make any major life changes during their first year, they learned that God’s plan was different, they listened and followed His leading. Since that moment, they have followed His voice through a military deployment, parenting two children, miraculous healings and life threatening experiences. 

“Understanding God’s Voice”

God is consistently communicating His will with you. Do you recognize His voice? Do you trust it enough to follow His plan? Through scripture, Biblical examples, and personal stories, we will discuss the many ways God communicates with us. The workshop will include time for reflection and journaling throughout so you can actively practice listening to His words for you. Please bring a journal.

Amanda McGann, Workshop Leader

Amanda's a Midwestern girl who met a Vermonter while living overseas. She  is Mama to 6 year old Gideon and 2 year old Kayra, and spends the bulk of her time with her tiny humans She loves her job as a therapist in Burlington, VT and is deeply passionate about wholeness and the Kingdom of God. 

"Grief, disappointment, and the Kingdom of God"

Every great story has multiple elements: joy, disappointment, adventure, risk, and loss (to name a few). How do we handle the grief and disappointment in our stories (and others) and what does the Kingdom of God have to say about it?

Kerry Batres, Testimonial

Kerry loves to laugh out loud a lot! She spends large amounts of time in the kitchen both for work and for pleasure, which fills her soul with joy. Wild adventures with her husband Byron of 19 years and their 2 sons, Alejandro (16) and Jerry (13) continue to keep her bursting with laughter.

"Loving without Limits"

Abigail Carroll, Workshop Leader

Abigail is a poet, author, and life-long journaler. She serves as pastor of arts and spiritual formation at Church at the Well in Burlington, Vermont, and her books include
Habitation of Wonder (2018) and A Gathering of Larks: Letters to Saint Francis from a Modern-Day Pilgrim (2017). 

"Journaling for your Soul"

Journaling can help us become more present, process what God is doing in our lives, and grow in our awareness of his faithfulness in the details. In this workshop, we will debunk myths about journaling that keep us from getting started, examine a variety of approaches to journaling by Christian writers, and “try on” an approach or two in search of a practice that will serve each of us best. Please bring a journal.