At one time, burnout was the ultimate badge of honor for ministry workers. The harder you pushed, the more devoted to the Lord you were. Faithfulness was measured in hours worked with little regard for the health of the minister or the sustainability of the ministry.
Thankfully, that is beginning to change. Pastors and other ministers have realized that they themselves need to be ministered to from time to time, a point these past eighteen months of pandemic have only exacerbated. Not only do ministers need care, they often need spiritual direction. That is, they need an outside party to listen for the Lord with them and help them discern where the Holy Spirit might be leading.
Both of these experiences played a pivotal role in the lives of Claire and Chris Andrews. Chris is a priest in the Diocese of Christ Our Hope who served at The River Anglican Church in Blacksburg, VA, finishing his service this year. Claire was on staff at the River as well, serving as discipleship director. They left The River to open Kerith Retreat, a place of rest, respite, and rediscovery for people in ministry (ordained or lay), in the beautiful mountains of Waynesville, NC.
During their own season of burnout, Claire and Chris experienced firsthand the care and hospitality of brothers and sisters in Christ and the healing effect it offers. Chris would later go to seminary then on staff at The River. There, Chris discovered a gift and passion for one-on-one ministry he did not realize he had. Meanwhile, Claire, having personally experienced the benefits of spiritual direction, enrolled in Selah’s spiritual direction certificate program. During that time, Claire and Chris received the first inklings of what would become Kerith Retreat.
Kerith is the name of the ravine where God told Elijah to hide from the wrath of King Ahab and rest. God provided a brook for water and sent ravens with bread and meat each morning and each evening. Reflecting on this passage, Chris and Claire heard God calling them to offer a “Kerith” for others. They recognized, however, that Elijah did not stay in the Kerith Ravine indefinitely. Once he was rested, the Lord sent him back out to continue his work. This is how Claire and Chris envision their ministry.
For Chris, Kerith Retreat will provide its guests enough time to set aside their worries and the weight of their ministry to sit with God and let him provide for their needs. For Claire, Kerith Retreat will help its guest recapture the fact that they are loved deeply by God simply because they are God’s children. As a result, Chris and Claire hope to see their guests go back into ministry energized, knowing someone has heard them, cared for them, and prayed for them and remembering why they were called to ministry in the first place.
Chris and Claire settled on a property in the mountains of Waynesville, NC and moved in late April. The property sits on a wooded hillside with a wonderful view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Currently, Chris and Claire are updating the home and the retreat apartment. They are planning to open Kerith Retreat late in the Fall of 2021 where they'll host one person or couple at a time for silent or guided retreats. In the meantime, Claire continues to offer spiritual direction. You can learn more here.