Summer Details2019-06-25T13:46:55+00:00

Session 1 | 7 – 14 June

Dr Don Snider

COL Al Shine, USA (Ret)

Topic: “Rest and Strength for the OCF Ambassador”

The Shines and Sniders are seasoned OCF Ambassadors for Christ. Both couples have served for several decades at the intersection of the American family and the US military which are, according to sociologists, the two most “greedy” institutions in our society. Because of their intense demands on emotions, relationships, and time, they wear their members down often rolling right over them. Our speakers will equip younger OCFers with the means to find the rest, peace, and strength to serve as Ambassadors for the Kingdom amid the unrelenting demands of life within the military. They will recommend a Biblical approach – Union with Christ.

Dr. Don Snider served within the US Army for 53 years as a Soldier-Scholar, retiring for the third time in 2016. As a Soldier he served for 29 years, from combat in Vietnam to the highest levels of our government in the National Security Council, The White House. As a Scholar he is Professor, Emeritus, at West Point and recipient of three life-time achievements awards from international societies that study the military. He has been an OCF’er for many decades, serving as regional director in Germany and in Washington DC, and as an OCF Council member for almost a decade. He and his wife, Caroline reside in Carlisle, PA, where they teach Sunday School and serve within the various ministries of Memorial Chapel.

Colonel (USA, Ret) Alexander (Al) Shine served 27 years active duty, ten years as an educator in a private high school, and has taught and spoken on a variety of topics since his second retirement. Al came to Christ as a West Point cadet and he and his wife Sandra have been active with OCF and various chapel and church ministries throughout his Army and post-Army careers. They have been blessed with 53 years of marriage [54 on June 12], three adult children and 5 grandchildren. They currently live in Carlisle, PA where they worship in the Carlisle Barracks Chapel and participate in OCF, PWOC, and a chapel sponsored men’s ministry focused on students at the Army War College.

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Session 2 | 14 – 21 June, Two for One Week – How exciting!

COL Bobby Little, USA (Ret)

Pastor Doug Rutt

Summer R&R 2 is a very special week, two speakers, two messages, dovetailed with care. Two retreats in one. 

Topic for the weekend: “Our Identity from the Word of the Father” (Bobby Little)

Our Identity Established by the Word; Our Identity Validated by the Word; Our Identity Sustained by the Word; Our Identity Defended by the Word

Topic for the week: “The Upper Room Discourse” (Doug Rutt)

During the last supper with His disciples, Jesus made a few promises that seem difficult to believe.  “Greater things than I did, you will do” and “It is to your advantage that I go away”. Was Jesus simply trying to make his disciples feel better on the eve of his death or was he introducing a life that many Christians have yet to discover?  Come discover the life Jesus intended for us.

Bobby Little serves as the Executive Director of Christian Embassy in Washington DC, a ministry of Cru. Christian Embassy is a non-political, non-denominational ministry that is reaching leaders who can change the world. The ministry serves as a spiritual resource for leaders in the White House, Members of Congress, presidential appointees, ambassadors and military and civilian leaders in the Pentagon, their staffs and their families.

With a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Hampton University and a Master of Science degree in public relations from Syracuse University, Bobby is also a certified executive coach through George Mason University. He was designated a Distinguished Military Graduate and received a commission in the United States Army. During his military career, he led troops at every level – platoon, company, battalion and brigade including a deployment to Kuwait. He served at every staff level including the office of the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Bobby is married to Sheila and they have five adult children and seven grandchildren. He is an elder at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. He has served as a nationally elected Council Member of Officers’ Christian Fellowship; a lifetime member of the Hampton University Military Alumni Association where he was inducted into their Hall of Fame. Bobby and Sheila were speakers for FamilyLife Weekend to Remember Conferences.

Bobby enjoys coaching and mentoring and gets energized by developing leaders. Bobby’s number 1 Strengthsfinder score is “Positivity”.

Had you asked me about where I would serve in ministry when I graduated from Columbia International University in 1986, I would have said “I will never serve in the church. I will never teach adults, and I will never be a pastor.” God obviously had other plans! I am glad He did.

I was raised in Lancaster, PA and placed faith in Jesus to be my Savior at the early age of ten. Although I knew Jesus had saved me for heaven, I struggled greatly with trying to live as a Christ follower. I just wasn’t very good at it – at least not for very long! Then in High School I heard a man say that “The Christian life isn’t difficult – it is impossible.” That had certainly been my experience, but God graciously opened my eyes to Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”

The reality that Jesus had wrapped Himself in my humanity and that He was living in me completely changed my understanding of the Christian life. I was no longer left to my best efforts of pleasing God, but was learning to live by faith and acknowledge my utter inadequacy but His complete adequacy so that my role was to present my body to be an instrument in and through which He lived His life. Some people call this truth the Exchanged Life; it certainly changed mine.

I attended Ravencrest Bible School in Estes Park, CO and then went to CIU for additional Bible and ministry training. While at CIU, I not only received excellent training in Bible Teaching, but God also opened my eyes and heart to world missions.

After CIU, Jackie and I were married and immediately moved to Jacksonville, where I spent 3 years teaching Bible to middle school students at Grace Christian Academy. We began attending CFC in 1987, joined the staff team as Youth Pastor in 1989 and the elders invited me to serve as Pastor-Teacher in 1998.

Since coming to CFC God has blessed Jackie and me with six children. The oldest four are married and in 2015 we joyfully entered into the new world of being grandparents! The Chapel has been an awesome place to raise our family. Away from CFC I enjoy fishing, tennis and almost anything competitive with family and friends.

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Session 3 | 21 June – 28 June

Dr Greg St Cyr

Topic: “How Big is Your God”

AW Tozer once said, “The most important thing about a person is what comes into his mind when he hears the word God.”  Everything hinges on our view of God. Big God small problems. Join us for a study of the attributes of God and our faith response to His greatness.

Pastor Greg St. Cyr has a passion for missions and the local church. He spent 13 years with Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) where he met his wife of 32 years, Mary Kaye.

Greg served as a missionary for 8 years in Poland largely during communist days. For the last 20 years, he has served as the lead pastor of Bay Area Community in Annapolis whose global ministry extends throughout the world.

He has a master’s degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry in missions from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

He and his wife have 4 grown children and four grandchildren.

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Session 4 | 28 June – 5 July


Fourth of July Celebration

Pastor Keith Peck

Topic: “Proverbs: Wisdom for Real Life”

A life lesson that will confront each of us sooner or later…simply knowing moral principles and running Google searches will prove inadequate for life’s daily, complex decisions. Trusting in principles and technology will often leave you bemoaning your need for wisdom. But what is wisdom? We tend to read the wisdom of Proverbs as a list of pithy, moral principles (Proverbs 10-31). However, this approach will frustrate you if you ignore the interpretive guide for Proverbs, chapters 1-9. This series will focus on Proverbs 1-9, so you can wisely use the wisdom imbedded in the short, pithy proverbial sayings in the rest of the book.

After 40 years of pastoral ministry in the Presbyterian Church in America, Keith recently retired as pastor emeritus of Broadneck EP Church in Annapolis, Maryland where he served for 27 years. During that time, he ministered to and with the Navigator, Cru and OCF staff at the US Naval Academy. Since retiring, he has “unretired” and serves as assistant pastor at Mercy Presbyterian Church in Lynchburg, Virginia. Keith has been married to Gale, his ministry partner, for 45 years. Keith & Gale have five children and sixteen grandchildren.

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Session 5 | 5 – 12 July

Dr Gary Phillips

“Topic: “Basic Training for the Family: Biblical Principles for Navigating Cultural Minefields”

How do husbands and wives develop a godly, joy-filled marriage, when almost all the surrounding voices are tugging couples apart?  How do we raise our children to love God, love truth, and pursue holiness?  There are no easy answers or push-button outcomes for complex situations, but God has given us a clear biblical lens through which to gain perspective as we view and review our family relationships.

Gary and Betsy Phillips are native Tennesseans. Saved at Vanderbilt, Gary went on to become Distinguished Professor and Chairman of Biblical Studies at Bryan College, and author of various books and articles, including Making Sense of Your World with John Stonestreet and Bill Brown.

Gary is senior pastor of Signal Mountain Bible Church in Chattanooga, where they have served since 1985. He and Betsy have three children and five grandchildren. They have experienced good times and hard times, and take delight in their family. Occasionally a funny story about their grandchildren may accidentally sneak into Gary’s teaching.

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Session 6  | 12 – 19 July

Col Art Athens USMCR (Ret)

Topic: “From the Mountaintop to the Valley Below”

Seeing the crowds, He went up on the mountain, and when He sat down, His disciples came to Him. And he opened His mouth and taught them, saying . . .” (Matt 5:1-2) With these words, Matthew introduced what has become known as “The Sermon on the Mount” . . . or as some have called it, Jesus’ “Christian Manifesto” . . . His instructions for how Christians are to live in a fallen world. The three chapters in Matthew and the one in Luke are ones worth returning to often. They remind us of the fundamentals of the Christian life and how the Lord expects us to not just be students on the mountaintop, but also ambassadors for Him in the valley below. This week will encourage and exhort us to be those students and ambassadors.

Colonel Athens recently left the federal government, having served for the past decade as the Director of the U.S. Naval Academy’s Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership and previously, as the Naval Academy’s first Distinguished Military Professor of Leadership.

Colonel Athens is a retired Marine Corps officer with command and staff assignments in all four Marine Aircraft Wings and an instructor tour with Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One (the Marine Corps’ equivalent to the Navy’s Top Gun school). He also served as a White House Fellow under President Ronald Reagan and the Special Assistant to the NASA Administrator following the Space Shuttle Challenger accident.

He left active duty to become the Executive Director of Officers’ Christian Fellowship, where he served for five years, and continues to be actively involved with OCF, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and various men’s ministries.

Colonel Athens currently speaks around the country about leading with integrity and works alongside leaders to help them fulfill their personal and professional calling.

He is married to the former Mistina Root of Williamsburg, Virginia and they have ten children.

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Session 7 | 19 – 26 July


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Pastor Chris Plekenpol

Topic: “God Speaks”

Every Christian has 2 questions

  • How do I know God’s will?
  • How can I improve the relationships that mean the most to me?With a pastors heart and military background. Chris will teach us how to trust God with our questions, believe He will give us the best answer starting with His revealed will leading to His hidden will. He will also explain why we tend to treat the ones we love the most the worst and what we can do to fix it with God’s help.

Chris graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and served in the Army for seven years. Upon God’s call in his life to ministry, he attended Dallas Theological Seminary and received his Masters in Theology (ThM.) Chris traveled as an evangelist and missional group trainer with for two years before becoming the Lead Pastor of Wells Branch Community Church.

Chris is married to his beautiful wife Adrienne, a graduate of Abilene Christian University, a former high school Spanish Teacher, and his best friend. They have four incredible boys: Austin, Jett, Titus, and one on the way! He loves watching sports, especially Army Football, dancing with Adrienne, and thinking of creative and innovative ways to communicate the love of God.

Chris has written five books, making the theoretical practical in our spiritual journeys.

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Session 8 | 26 July – Aug 2


Col Hous Waring USAF (Ret)

Topic:”Growing Kids on the Military Mission Field and the Adults Who Impact Them”

Tami and I have frequently been asked to speak on raising children—how they can become effective missionaries of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  During the week we will investigate the biblical theology which drives Christian parenting and the roles of military aunts and uncles and grandparents (“adopted” men and women) who are part of the military kid’s life.  We will use the Scriptures, practical illustrations, and questions from you to consider how children can better flourish under the care of their family who have been called to military service.

Hous and Tami are both graduates of the USAF Academy, they have raised nine children (four of whom are married), and they have nine grandchildren. All of the kids have considered the OCF Conference Centers home while the family served abroad and in the states. All of the Waring children were trained and raised by Hous & Tami, but they were greatly impacted by single military men and women, as well as other married military adults.

Early in marriage they wrote down a family vision that drove family decisions for the rest of their military career. After 25 years on active duty as a fighter pilot, Hous has been on OCF staff for five years and Tami still has two high schoolers she is teaching.

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Session 9 | Aug 2 – 4

End of Summer Retreat

Lt Gen Bruce Fister USAF (Ret)

Topic: “Paying OCF’s 75th Anniversary Blessings Forward: Elders at the Gate and Mentors in the Field”

This series looks at OCF’s history of men and women of deep faith and how that should play forward to those who can be the mentors of the future and the role you might play in ” Building Christian military leaders, families, and fellowships for a lifetime.” These sessions are for you, the younger future leaders of OCF and a few of us older “Elders at the Gate” whose sole purpose in life is to invest in those following in our footsteps.

General Fister retired from the Air Force as Commander, 15th Air Force, Travis Air Force Base, California. In that assignment, he was responsible for approximately 50 percent of the Air Force’s aerial refueling and airlift capability.

Bruce entered the Air Force in 1964 as a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy. During his 12 months in Southeast Asia as a C-123 pilot he flew 1300 sorties on 220 combat missions primarily in support of American and Vietnamese Special Forces units. He was the Joint Special Operations Task Force Air Component Commander for the U.S. intervention in Grenada in 1983 and the Deputy Joint Special Operations Task Force Commander for U.S. operations in Panama in 1989. The majority of his Air Force career was in Air Mobility Command or assignments in special operations. He was Commander of the 435th Tactical Airlift Wing at Rhein Main Air Base, Germany. He was Deputy Commanding General for the Joint Special Operations Command and Commander of Air Force Special Operations Command. He has commanded a Squadron, a Wing, a Numbered Air Force, and a Major Air Command. He has 7,000 hours flying time in a variety of different aircraft. He is currently an author and his work can be found at

In civilian life, Bruce has served in a number of capacities, including 10 years as Executive Director of OCF. He published Growing and Building, Faith, Prayer, and Leadership and is a contributing author to several other publications. Currently he serves as Director of Guest Services, Crosspoint Bluewater Bay, Florida

Bruce and his wife Melissa have two sons, David and Todd, and three grandchildren, Emi, Ali, and Nathan.

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