Tour Retreat

May 18-21, 2015

Our Leaders ~ Schedule ~ Registration Information

Our Leaders

Ed and Edie Bontrager

Ed and Edie were the pastoral couple at the Huntington Mennonite Church in Newport News for 10 years, and now live in Harrisonburg, VA. Their combined experience in leading 35 overseas tours as well as local bus trips makes them the ideal leaders with whom to explore the Virginia Peninsula. They have two wonderful daughters and sons-in-law along with four delightful grandchildren! For information about other TravelVenture Tours check out their website.

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Monday, May 18

Arrive at the Williamsburg Christian Retreat Center (WCRC) at 3:00 p.m. or later. After a fine dinner we will have a get-acquainted time, and then we will be lodged at Oakwood Lodge, which has 24 hotel-style rooms with private facilities.

Tuesday, May 19

We will depart by bus and travel to Newport News, visiting what was called “the colony” where Mennonites settled in 1897. There we will visit the Warwick River Christian School and Mennonite Church, where Susan Ackerman, author and historian will give us an overview of the Denbigh settlement. She will tell about the history, culture, and life of the Mennonites who transformed fallow ground into productive soil, and through the decades made a positive impact by establishing businesses and institutions that have provided services to the community. We will pass the Providence Mennonite Church and Mennowood, a retirement center, and then stop at the Yoder Barn, where, during the late ‘90s and early ‘00s, a number of musical dramas were performed by the Mennonite community.

Our next visit will be the Huntington Mennonite Church, where Ed and Edie Bontrager pastored for ten years from 1993-2003, and then go to the Crab Shack, located at the edge of the James River for a delicious fish lunch (other options also available).

In the afternoon we will visit the Mariners’ Museum, which is really a national treasure, and claimed by The Washington Post as “one of the finest nautical museums in the country…” Their brochure introduces this museum by saying, “Lose yourself in 500 years of seafaring adventure. From bow to stern, The Mariners’ Museum is filled with fascinating stories, captured in priceless artifacts that celebrate the spirit of the open sea. Explore over 120,000 square feet of gallery space with rare figureheads, handcrafted ship models, Civil War ironclad USS Monitor artifacts, paintings, navigational instruments, and much more.”

In the late afternoon we will go back to WCRC, for a scrumptious dinner in the Magnolia Center. The staff at WCRC will be treating us to some enjoyable camp activities including a hayride and hymn sing after dinner.

Wednesday, May 20

Today we will get back on the bus and head to Calvary Community Church, the largest church in our Virginia Mennonite Conference, as Pastor Leslie Francisco III and his staff tell about their ministry. In the 1950s this church developed as an outreach of the Warwick River Mennonite Church among the African American people in downtown Newport News when working cross-culturally was not acceptable.

Then we go through the James River bridge-tunnel to Norfolk, directing our sights to the “Spirit of Norfolk” for our exciting lunch cruise. As we cruise leisurely, we will observe the sights of the harbor, enjoy a bountiful lunch buffet and entertainment. This will truly be a memorable experience!

After the cruise, we will go to the Norfolk Botanical Garden which comprises 115 acres of colorful landscapes, unusual flowers and the Bicentennial Rose Garden. During this time of the year the rose garden will be in full bloom, a sight to behold! A narrated tram tour will help us discover this vast array of beauty. We will also have time to stroll around on our own. We then will retrace our route under the James River back to the Retreat Center, for another wonderful meal at the Magnolia Center.

Thursday, May 21

After breakfast we will hop in our vehicles to head toward Richmond where we will center our minds on pre-revolutionary times. We will visit one of the earliest tobacco plantations – the Shirley Plantation a name found in records as far back as 1611. For over three centuries and ten generations Shirley has been held by the Hill-Carter family. It is said that the family silver was used to serve George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Tyler and Theodore Roosevelt. Shirley is still a working plantation producing corn, barley, wheat and soy beans. The grounds have a full complement of dependencies – a large two-story kitchen, smokehouse, dovecote, stable and barns.

Then we will go for lunch at Cul's Court House Grill (on your own), after which the people in  the van from the Shenandoah Valley, and others will go our separate ways.

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Registration Information

Register on-line or mail in this printable registration form.

A $50 non-refundable deposit is required with registration.

Prices are on registration forms. Price varies based on lodging choice. Single occupancy rooms will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Join us for just the day! Contact us for special commuter rates!

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