First Love 2024

A Renovaré Retreat for Pastors and Ministry Leaders

April 22-25, 2024 · Hickory, NC

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.” – Matthew 11:28


First Love is an opportunity to recenter your connection with Jesus. This four-day, three-night Renovaré retreat gives pastors and ministry leaders in pastoral roles a chance to reconnect with God in a safe space among others who understand the pastoral calling with all of its joys and challenges. 

Our relationship with the Lord forms and grows slowly, layer upon layer, through our personal encounters with God’s loving Presence. This bond with God is the core that shapes us and empowers our ministry. So returning to that central relationship, protecting and strengthening that bond with Father, Son, and Spirit, is essential to our spiritual health and our ability to pastor others.

Who It's For

This retreat is designed specifically for those in pastoral roles—pastors and ministry leaders from all Christian traditions, men and women, who:

  • care deeply about their congregation’s depth and renewal in Christ, 
  • feel called to cultivate authentic, formational community, 
  • know that they can only give what they first receive from God.

What To Expect

  • A small, relaxed event with no more than fifty leaders   
  • Generous space for connecting with God in a beautiful setting 
  • Teaching and guided practices for strengthening your spirit and your calling
  • Honest conversations with others on a similar journey
  • Wonderful food and comfortable accommodations 

Location & Accomodations

The Catholic Conference Center is nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Hickory, North Carolina, one hour from the Charlotte airport (CLT).

Catholic Conference Center
1551 Trinity Ln
Hickory, NC 28602  

Rooms include two full-sized beds, an en suite bathroom, and a desk.

Lodging and all group sessions will take place in the main retreat center building.

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Retreat Ministry Team

Miriam Dixon

Miriam Dixon

Speaker · Pastor for 40 Years

Miriam (Mimi) Dixon began her ministry in 1979 serving as an associate pastor at Northminster Presbyterian Church in Seattle, Washington. From April of 1985 to May of 2019 she served as senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Golden, Colorado. She earned both her MDiv and DMin degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary. Mimi is on the Renovaré Board of Directors and teaches for the Renovaré Institute. She is faculty for Next Frontiers, a ministry to pastors in transition, and actively promotes Christian Spiritual Formation, crediting Richard Foster and Dallas Willard for their influence in her life and ministry. Mimi has authored Worth Celebrating: a biography of Richard J Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, available through Barclay Press.

Kai Nilsen

Kai Nilsen

Speaker · Pastor for 30+ Years

Kai is Senior Pastor of Incarnation Lutheran in Shoreview, Minnesota. Previously he served as lead pastor at Peace Lutheran Church in Columbus, Ohio, after having joined the staff in 1993. Beyond his pastoral work, Kai is on the Renovaré Ministry Team and teaches in the Renovaré Institute for Spiritual Formation. In 2009, Kai completed his Doctor of Ministry degree through Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. Kai’s book Renew Your Life: Discovering the Wellspring of God’s Energy was published in the fall of 2015. Kai and his wife Patty are parents of four children — Anders, Annika, Leif and Siri.

Juanita Campbell Rasmus

Juanita Campbell Rasmus

Speaker · Pastor for 30+ Years

Juanita is a speaker, writer, spiritual director, and contemplative. She copastors the St. John’s United Methodist Church in downtown Houston with her husband, Rudy. Started with nine members in 1992, thousands have joined the St. John’s family, making it one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country. Pastor Juanita has served as a member of the board of directors of Renovaré and its ministry team founded by Richard Foster. Additionally, Juanita serves on the board of her alma mater, Houston Graduate School of Theology, and on advisory boards for Rice University’s Religion and Public Life Program and re:MIND Houston. Learn more at her website

Tiffany Clark

Tiffany Clark

Speaker · Spiritual Director

Tiffany Clark is the Lay Assistant Minister at Christ Church, Georgetown and a spiritual director. A former leadership consultant for Development Associates International, Tiffany taught spiritual formation for leaders in seminaries and MA programs, led spiritual retreats, and wrote resources for the deepening and renewal of Christian leaders in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. After twenty years overseas, primarily in South Asia, Tiffany and her husband Ernest now reside in Washington, D.C. with their three young adult children.

Cost & Registration