Rolling Ridge honors outgoing executive director Larry Peacock
June 27, 2016
A spiritual guide, a shepherd, a drum major, and a transformational leader.
Those words were used to describe the Rev. Larry Peacock during a June 26, 2016 gathering to honor him as he steps down as executive director of Rolling Ridge Retreat and Conference Center.
Staff, board members, and friends were at Rolling Ridge Sunday afternoon to enjoy some of the Ridge’s famous food and hospitality, and bid farewell to
Rev. Peacock who is moving with his wife, the Rev. Anne Broyles, to Portland, OR.
By Steve Garnaas-Holmes
A shepherd walks across a meadow beside still waters, where once tangled thorns grew, now green pasture.
Bees among the flowers trace their labyrinth of grace.
Sheep graze, beloved faces deep in the meadow's self-giving.
n these openings grace has blossomed.
They are not his own, but he has loved them as his own.
He has kept the fold, watched the gate, held the space,
where the Beloved might come. And the Beloved has come,
whose mantle of light still rests here,
though the sheep all walk away with it.
The shepherd smiles on the gentle land,
touches the sheep's backs
as he walks up to the road, knowing they are never far from their fold,
nor he from his.
“We are indeed grateful to our creator God for the grace which brought Larry and Anne into our midst,” said Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar. “Larry’s vision has brought this center to become a truly ecumenical center, not only for those in the Christian faith tradition, but for all the people of God.”
“The fruits of Larry’s ministry are not just confined to this campus, but to our entire conference and beyond,” the bishop said, and Rev. Peacock’s imprint “will stay with us forever.”
The Rev. Dick Evans, who served as assistant to the bishop from 1982-96, said that he was invited to “try to be a spokesperson for so many of the clergy and laity who have worked so closely with Larry over these past 11 years.”
Rev. Evans said that when Bishop Peter Weaver appointed Rev. Peacock to Rolling Ridge, there were two goals:
To redefine and transition Rolling Ridge from its historically significant primary ministry with youth and children into an adult center with emphasis on spiritual formation and renewal. And, second, to address the physical needs of aging facility in need of some major renovation in order to accomplish the first goal. And to launch a capital campaign to make that possible.
“With gentleness of spirit and strength of vision Larry took on that challenge, and has brought Rolling Ridge to a new level of excellence in programming and hospitality,” Rev. Evans said.
Rev. Peacock’s experience, spiritual gifts, and companionship with Christ, Rev. Evans said, have allowed him to help “develop a diversity of programs, spiritual menu to respond to the spiritual hunger of so many adults.
“Friends, we give thanks to God for the gift to us of Larry Peacock. As he now retires, he leaves us a firm foundation for the future and that will endure,” he said. “Thank you, Larry.”
Rolling Ridge Board Chair Sam Johnson agreed. Johnson recounted some of the history of Moses Hall – which is in the process of being renovated into a retreat lodge as part of that $4 million capital campaign that began during Rev. Peacock’s tenure.
“These 11 years have been years of transformation,” Johnson said. “There have been some wilderness times, there always will be. But we now have a foundation. We now have a real vision. We know it’s going to happen.”
Johnson then announced the naming of “The Larry J. Peacock Carriage House” and presented the plaque.
The Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries and Rev. Peacock’s supervisor, talked about transformation as well.
“In the United Methodist world we evaluate people and ministries based on transformation; we ask: Has somebody’s ministry been transformational? And that’s the sign of a job well done,” she said. “Anybody’s whose known Rolling Ridge before, during, and now has seen incredible transformation.”
Rolling Ridge, she said, is “not just a place that you rent or you come to; it’s a place that beckons you …” and thanked Rev. Peacock for that: “We give thanks for his vision, his energy, commitment, and dedication to make it so.”
In addition to the naming of the Carriage House, the staff gave Rev. Peacock an aerial photo of Rolling Ridge. It was the Rev. Steve Garnaas-Holmes who used the word shepherd; he offered the gift of a poem with the same title. Guests were also asked to sign a memory book for Rev. Peacock.
It was Rev. Peacock who described himself as a drum major for Rolling Ridge. In preparing for the move west, he found notes from his 2005 interview in
which someone said “We’re really looking for a drum major for Rolling Ridge.”
“That’s an interesting image, a captivating image,” Rev. Peacock said, adding that the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. used it speaking of being “a drum major for justice.”
It made him think of the Scripture that reads “Never fail to give account of the hope that’s within you.”
When asked if he would speak at the gathering, Rev. Peacock’s reply was: “Of course. I will never fail to give account for this amazing place.”
Rev. Peacock went on to answer a question posed by author Parker Palmer in his book A Hidden Wholeness: “Where are the places where the soul is invited to discover itself?”
“And I would say there are two places for the soul to discover itself: One is nature and the second is a retreat center,” Rev. Peacock said. “Rolling Ridge combines both of them. Nature and programs, hospitality, food, beauty, they all conspire so that when people show up here, they get in touch with something that’s holy. Something that’s special. Something that’s soul. I think we put Rolling Ridge on the map as a place for recovery of the soul.”
Rev. Peacock described kayaking on the lake that morning, taking turns with his wife expressing all the things “we cherish about New England and Rolling Ridge.”
“When we came back an hour later, we weren’t finished,” he said. “There’s so, so very much we cherish about our 11 years at this place and in this region … I’ve loved being your drum major for 11 years. Thanks be to God.”
Danny Smith, Rolling Ridge Director of Programs & Administration, served as emcee for the day.
“I know that I speak for the entire staff when I say that Rolling Ridge won’t be the same without you, Larry,” Smith said. “But I also know that I speak for the entire staff when I say we will do our very best to honor your legacy here. To continue to be a place of quiet beauty and gracious hospitality. We will strive to bring the capital campaign to fruition and make Rolling Ridge the premier retreat center in New England. … We will never be the same, but we will forever be grateful.”
Rev. Peacock’s retirement is effective July 1. Interim Director Melinda Trotti begins her work at Rolling Ridge July 5.