Engage Your Power

Dylan Novacek March 6, 2020

A reflection on the Power Tools retreat.

Written by Dylan Novacek, Content Specialist

“Like our spiritual health and wellbeing, developing our leadership is something that we must make time for in our busy lives.” Spoken with passion, Justin Lewandowski, one of Beacon’s newest congregational organizers, believes in developing ordinary people into confident leaders for change.

Recently, Beacon’s Congregational Organizers engaged with congregants looking to grow in their ability to organize change in their congregations. At the Power Tools Retreat, organizers like Justin coached attendees on how to understand and utilize different aspects of power.

“When I made the choice to invest in myself, I was not only equipped with new knowledge and research, but new wisdom about who I was and more clarity around where God was calling me, challenging me, and pushing me to lead,” Justin reflected on the impact of attending trainings such as the Power Tools.

Through hands-on trainings, attendees grew confident over the two-day long retreat. By building an organizational toolbox, these new leaders are equipped to create change that expresses why they believe in home.

“Home is where you feel safe and comfortable,” Sue Fust, a member of Unitarian Universalist in Minnetonka, thought about why she believes in home. As a newcomer to Beacon, Sue’s experience at Power Tools jump started her efforts in organizing her congregation to be actively involved in sustainable and supportive housing.

“The most important thing I took away from Power Tools is that there are other congregations and leaders who we can lean on to get support from,” Sue felt confident in the strength of Beacon’s collaborative. “There is power in numbers.”

As Beacon continues to grow with nearly 100 collaborating congregations, our congregational organizers invite and challenge leaders like Sue to live out their faith, values and power. Through attending Power Tools, Sue gained a network of organizers, congregations and leaders who, grounded in the fundamental tools of creating change, will lead the collaborative to achieving our bold vision of everyone having a home.

Sue was not alone in feeling energized by this retreat. For Bill Johnston, from House of Hope Presbyterian Church in St. Paul, Power Tools reaffirmed his commitment to Beacon.

“I came away from this retreat feeling totally recommitted,” Bill said with a newfound enthusiasm. “It made me feel more powerful and necessary to Beacon’s mission. It made me realize how important simply showing up can be.”

Attendees left the retreat with a wide array of new skills. For Bill, he benefited from hands-on training; learning how to best express the need for supportive housing which takes a combination of organized people and organized money to become a reality.

“Practicing how to use my power helped me prepare for organizing my own community,” Bill continued. “It’s important to connect with local officials and work for change. Since the retreat, I’ve already began facing these conversations head on.”

“Using these power tools can help make our organizing plans more fleshed out,” Sue added, speaking about how she will bring these new skills to her congregation. “We are on track for making changes. Beacon has really given us an excellent structure to give back.”

“The energy between all of Beacon’s organizers is so electric,” Bill raved. “There isn’t a weak link. They help us build a structure of organizing and giving back.”

As impressed as the leaders were with Beacon’s team of congregational organizers, the Organizers like Justin became very impressed with the group.

“By the end of the retreat, I saw a team of individuals who took risks in their leadership, who stood vulnerably while claiming the power they wanted to build for themselves, their congregations and communities,” Justin remarked, proud of how our attendees connected and engaged with the experience.

“Power Tools isn’t just a place to learn new tactics or talking points,” he continued. “It’s a place where you get to push yourself alongside others who share a vision of what’s possible when we work collaboratively around our shared faith values.”

Through important conversations, in depth trainings, and a collaborative full of support those who attended Power Tools grew as leaders in their congregations and in the collaborative.

“The biggest thing I learn is that you need to show up to make change,” Bill paused, considering his own power. “It’s about small steps. You need to trust the process. You need to show up.”

If you want to learn more on how you can engage your own power, contact Deb at