NOLA Wesley holds fall retreat

NOLA+Wesley+retreaters+roast+marshmallows+on+the+beach+in+Biloxi%2C+Mississippi.+The+group+held+its+fall+retreat+at+the+Seashore+United+Methodist+Assembly+there.+Photo+credit%3A+Courtesy+of+Cheryl+Guyton

Cheryl H Guyton

NOLA Wesley retreaters roast marshmallows on the beach in Biloxi, Mississippi. The group held its fall retreat at the Seashore United Methodist Assembly there. Photo credit: Courtesy of Cheryl Guyton

Yuichiro Oguma

Local students in the Uptown area gathered to bond on a religious journey during NOLA Wesley’s fall retreat this September in Biloxi, Mississippi.

The retreat was held from Sept. 30 to Oct. 2, and the group of twelve visited Seashore Assembly, a space that offers food and living accommodations for religious groups visiting the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

NOLA Wesley is a LGBT-affirming Christian fellowship that helps students relieve stress and find themselves through religious experiences. Located on Freret and Broadway streets, they serve the communities of Loyola and Tulane University as well as Newcomb College. Each year they hold a fall retreat.

The theme of the retreat this year was “Finding Your Voice,” which gave participants time to connect spiritually and down time to use freely. Students were given a peaceful and relaxed environment and were encouraged to bring homework along with them if they pleased.

Alice Lee, psychology senior, was one of many students who attended the trip. When asked to describe the retreat in one word, she took a moment to think and said, “contemplative.”

“This retreat has down time. This allows students to do homework, take a nap or do something else. It is more flexible and relaxing,” Lee said.

Cheryl Guyton, minister of NOLA Wesley, said that setting free time aside for students to do whatever they wished on the retreat was important.

“We wanted [this retreat] to feel like a time set apart,” Guyton said.

The trip began on Friday evening with an icebreaker. Afterwards, the first activity was to learn about the life of Moses. The group read several stories including him in the book of Exodus in the Bible.

“We talked about Moses a lot and the time when he got called by God,” Lee said.

In the next activity, students were separated into small groups and wrote a timeline of their life to find out what God is calling them to do. They then shared it with each other.

“It was interesting to see how people look at their life. We believe that God has given every human being important things to share in the world,” Guyton said.

On Saturday night, the group set a bonfire on the beach and surrounded it, roasting marshmallows, playing games and having fun.

Guyton works alongside her husband Morgan Guyton, minister and director of NOLA Wesley. She has been a minister for two years and says she felt like God was calling her to do so.

“I had been a teacher, learned database administration, and through my volunteer work and daytime work, I found that I wanted to explore ministry,” Guyton said.

Although NOLA Wesley is a Christian organization, Guyton says that everybody is welcome.

Fall retreat is not the only thing NOLA Wesley does. They have regular fellowship lunch every Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Tulane’s LBC as well as a weekly meal and worship every Sunday at 5 p.m. at the Freret Street campus center.

Those interested in learning more about the ministry can visit www.tulane.edu/~wesley/.