BROOKSVILLE — The women from Journey Christian Center church enjoyed their time at the Lakewood Retreat Christian Camp and Conference Center so much last fall that they are hosting another retreat there Sept. 24 and 25.
There are still some openings for any women interested in attending.
"It was an awesome spiritual event last year," said Joan Poole, 61, head of the women's ministry for the church, on Sunshine Grove Road west of Brooksville. "It really gave women a chance to get to know each other better, in a nice, relaxed atmosphere outside of the church walls."
The title of the retreat is "Our Kinsman Redeemer," and will be a study from the book of Ruth in the Bible.
The theme verse is from Song of Solomon 2:4: "He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love."
Ann D. Finkelman, executive producer of Showshannah Ministries Media and the host of an Internet television program called Liquid Fire, will be the speaker.
Finkelman, whose nondenominational, prophetic ministry is based in Clearwater, refers to herself on her website as a born-again, spirit-filled Messianic Jew.
Poole heard Finkelman speak at a seminar she attended last fall and was impressed.
"I heard Ann speak in Clearwater," Poole said. "Her way of making the Bible come alive and her way of relating to women was incredible. I thought we would be honored to have her come to speak to us."
Poole also heard recording artist and speaker Mary Courtney last fall.
"She's been singing for a long time nationwide for other retreats," Poole said. "I heard her testimony, and I asked if she would come."
Lakewood Retreat, south of Spring Lake near the Hernando-Pasco county line, will open for the women at 3 p.m. Sept. 24. Once settled in, they will gather for dinner at Lakewood's lodge.
"After dinner, we will go into a meeting, which will consist of praise and worship and hearing the speaker," Poole said. "And Mary Courtney will be our soloist."
A highlight of the retreat will be a time around a campfire on Friday night.
"We bring things like s'mores to share and have a good time chatting and singing. It's just a time of fun and fellowship by the fire," Poole said.
Saturday, Sept. 25, begins with breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and then a time of singing and testimony by Courtney.
There will be another time of praise and worship, and Finkelman will speak until lunchtime.
During and after lunch, women will have time to relax and enjoy the setting, taking walks and swimming, if they desire.
"We'll come back together around 2 and have a time of closing, with testimonies from some of the ladies as to what they got out of the retreat and a little closing message from Ann and myself," Poole said. "Then we'll be making our way home between 3:30 and 4."
Poole said women ages 18 and older are welcome. She stressed that they need not be members of her church.
"Of the 30 we have registered so far this year, eight to 10 of them are from other churches," she said, noting that because her church believes in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, the Bible-based teaching at the retreat could be labeled charismatic.
Joanne Schmidlin, 61, who will attend the event this year, says she attended last year and regrets that she didn't sleep over.
"It's a time of getting away, and it's a fun time, too," she said. "I enjoyed the unity and closeness that you have with the ladies, but I missed out on some of the things they did like the campfire and breakfast. I'll room with someone this year. I'm sure it will make it even better."
Schmidlin said she's read the book of Ruth a number of times and is looking forward to studying it with Finkelman.
"It's a short book, but it's a good book," she said. "I want to be open to whatever the Lord has for me and then act on it."
Poole said she has goals for this year's retreat.
"First and foremost on my heart is that women will realize they are loved by God, not for what they can do, but for the value of who they are," she said. "Secondly, that they will have a time of refreshment away from the things they would normally be doing — a time of drawing closer to God and a time of relaxation and perhaps making better or new friendships. Retreats really connect women."