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Lake Junaluska Festival of Wisdom and Grace

Photo by Mary Bates

Registration is now open for the Festival of Wisdom and Grace, set for Monday, August 7, through Thursday, August 10, on the shores of Lake Junaluska. The festival welcomes adults in the second half of life who are looking for renewal and inspiration through worship, Bible studies, workshops, professional training and fellowship.

This year’s theme, Forgiveness: Living in Grace, was inspired by verses from 2 Corinthians and Colossians. Sponsored by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Association of Older Adults, the weekend holds workshops to teach and inspire older adults, including a class on body movement; a workshop on helping generations forgive, love and pray; and a study on ways to engage generations to become ambassadors for reconciliation.

“I will be addressing the important issues concerning our approach to what we define as retirement,” says Dr. John Ed Mathison. “We have the opportunity to make the second half of life more exciting and fulfilling than the first half. As we grow older, we have more time, knowledge and resources to make a difference in life.”

The event will be led by Mathison, Dr. Everett Worthington and Dr. Patricia Suggs. Mathison, a retired United Methodist clergy member who served for 36 years at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, will be the conference preacher for the event. He will be joined by Worthington, the platform speaker, who is internationally known for his work on forgiveness, positive psychology, marriage and spirituality. Suggs, an expert on leadership development and conflict resolution, will lead the professional track.

“I really like the word ‘transition’ better than ‘retirement’,” says Mathison. “The second half of life can be a beginning rather than an end. We can either view the second half of life as an obstacle or as an opportunity. I hope to share ways in which God can use our lives to be more productive in Kingdom work than ever before.”

Guests will be able to enjoy the calming, scenic Lake Junaluska, where quiet spaces offer a chance for reflection. The grounds offer 16 gardens, a walking trail, a historic boat tour and two museums to provide guests a comfortable, collaborative experience. An optional golf outing is on the roster, as well as a performance by storyteller and musician Michael Reno Harrell.

Registration is $90 per person. Packages including lodging and meals are available. For more information, call 800.222.4930 or visit

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