SIGN UP TODAY AND GET $25 OFF REGISTRATION! (Offer ends Sept 1, 2024)

2nd Annual Retreat


 A retreat for Orthodox Men.

September 27-29, 2024, Livonia, MI.

What is "The Cry of the Forerunner"?

“I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness,” says St John the Baptist. Orthodox Tradition calls him “the Forerunner” and a “heavenly man and an earthly angel” (which is why he sports wings in the icon above). He is a liminal figure, that is, he is positioned betwixt and between; living in the desert but working with water; standing between the Old Testament and the New; the last of the prophets to announce the coming of Christ, and the first to acknowledge Him when He did arrive (when he leapt in his mother’s womb). Because of his unique position relative to Christ, St John serves as an excellent Forerunner of our own Christian male initiation.

On Friday evening, we’ll use several episodes from the life and teachings of St John the Baptist as a guide to some hard truths that every man needs to learn if he is to grow into mature masculinity. 

We will “prepare the way of the Lord,” and “make His paths straight” by doing some deep work on ourselves. We’ll wrestle with aspects of mature masculinity that we need to have in place if we’re effectively to follow Christ. Things like humility and a sense of our own mortality.

Once we’ve gotten these ideas out into the open, we’ll spend a few sessions on Saturday talking about how we can deal with them constructively.

After Vespers on Saturday night, we’ll revisit those same aspects in light of some other passages of Scripture that will cast them in a new light and help us to integrate them more effectively into our lives as Christian men.

Finally, we’ll conclude with Liturgy on Sunday morning to celebrate our renewal in Christ and receive a final affirmation.

(For those that want to stay through the evening, the 17th Annual Male Bonding Party will begin later on Sunday afternoon.)

This will not be a “sit still and listen” kind of retreat. This isn’t a conference where speakers say nice things and attendees politely listen. Yes, practical information will be given, but there will also be times for intense group participation when we will work through some of the personal issues that have left us stuck–sometimes for years–and move towards the abundant life which Christ promised us. The aim isn’t just to impart knowledge, but to change lives.

So, whether you’re a young man trying to figure out who he is and get a handle on the vision for his life, or a middle-aged man wondering where his dreams and passion have gone, or an older man needing to let go of past hurts so he can move on to the next phase of his life, this retreat is for you.

The Cry of the Forerunner is jointly sponsored by the “As Iron Sharpens Iron” podcast on Ancient Faith, the St Paisios Brotherhood, Maniphesto, and Avg2Alpha.

We look forward to you joining us

Retreat Schedule

Friday, Sept 27th

5:30pm Registration
6:30pm Vespers
7:30pm – 9:00pm Session I & Opening Exercises (Fr Michael) “Five Core Messages”

Saturday, Sept 28th

7:30am – 8:30am Breakfast
8:30am – 10:00am Session II (Fr Hans) [title]
10:00am – 10:30am Break
10:30am – 12:00pm Session III (Paul) “Accountability for men: Make His paths straight!”
12:00pm – 1:00pm Lunch
1:00pm – 2:30pm Session IV (Fr Hans) [title]
2:30pm – 4:00pm Team Challenges
4:00pm – 5:00pm Free Time / Confessions
5:00pm – 6:00pm Great Vespers
6:30pm – 7:30pm Dinner
7:30pm – 9:00pm Session V and Closing Exercises (Fr Michael) “That’s all true, but…”

Sunday, Sept 29th

9:00am – 9:40am Adult Ed Class (speaker) [title]
9:40am – 10:00am 3rd & 6th Hours
10:00am – 11:30am Liturgy
12:00pm – 1:00pm Brunch
1:00pm – 4:00pm Options (TBD, see Q&A below)
4:00pm – 8:00pm 17th Annual Male Bonding Party

Testimonials from last year's retreat


***Participation limited to 100 men***


Retreat only

All retreat sessions (Friday night thru Sunday Liturgy)

All meals (Friday night thru Sunday brunch after Liturgy)

(Early bird registration: $25 off the full price. $200 after 1 Sept 2024.)


Male Bonding Party only

Full access to MBP XVI fun & activities

Dinner, snacks & non-alcoholic beverages included


Both Retreat & Male Bonding Party together

Beloved Sons Retreat

Male Bonding Party XVI

About our presenters this year

"I help men optimize their lives."

The Very Rev. Archpriest Michael Butler is pastor of Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church (OCA) in Livonia, MI. He has been a priest for 29 years. He has degrees in archetypal psychology and theology, and a PhD in church history & patristics. His interest in men’s work began over 30 years ago. He is particularly interested in rites of passage, masculine archetypes, sacred space/time, initiation, and in ways that traditional Orthodox psychology and spirituality can help men today become the best they can be. He is a co-host of the Ancient Faith podcast “As Iron Sharpens Iron” and maintains the Avg2Alpha website and a social media presence. 

Fr Michael Butler
Paul Lloyd Robson

"Orthodox Christianity has all the answers we need to the crisis of masculinity."

Paul Lloyd Robson is a coach and facilitator for men, father of three sons, husband, and small farm owner based in Denmark. He founded the European Men’s Gathering in 2016 in order to address the crisis of masculinity in Europe. His work there led him to converting to the Orthodox faith in 2019. Today he works full time  with Maniphesto, a network of men in holding each other accountable, growing in integrity, and reaching towards a vision for their future. He is a co-host of the Ancient Faith podcast “As Iron Sharpens Iron.”

"Men learn how to become men through other men. It takes a brotherhood."

Fr. Hans Jacobse’s work with men began in earnest when a nineteen year old man asked him for help. From that first man the work kept expanding and developed into the St. Paisios Brotherhood which he leads and that ministers to hundreds of young men. He is particularly interested in helping young men overcome the vices and other maladies that afflict them, especially in this age when the larger culture is often hostile to them. He seeks to heal and strengthen men so that they can discover their purpose and fulfill their created destiny. Fr. Hans was ordained into the Orthodox priesthood over thirty years ago and currently serves St. Peter the Apostle Orthodox Church in Fort Myers, Florida.

Fr Hans Jacobse


DIRECTIONS TO THE VENUE. Both the Retreat and the MBP will be held at Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, 36075 Seven Mile Rd, in Livonia, MI. The church is located about 1 mile east of the I-275 Expressway, between Farmington & Newburgh Roads, across from the Livonia City Golf Course and Park. 

NEARBY RESTAURANTS. There are a number of good restaurants nearby: on 7 Mile Rd, both east and west of the venue, as well as on Haggerty Rd (1.5 miles west) and on 6 Mile Rd (1 mile south). Note that local restaurants can be extremely busy, with long wait times, on weekends.

AFTER HOURS HANGOUT. A suitable local watering hole for those that want it. Tbd.

NEAREST AIRPORT. If you are flying in, the nearest and most convenient airport is the Detroit Metro Airport. It is a Delta Airlines hub, which may help you find convenient or less expensive flights.

Helpful Links

Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church. The hosting parish, where Fr Michael serves.

As Iron Sharpens Iron Podcast. The podcast on Ancient Faith Radio which Fr Michael and Paul co-host together. We gather leading voices in the recovery of authentic manhood according to the teachings and practices of the Orthodox Christian faith.

Maniphesto is on a mission to transform your life. We run accountability groups and boot camps to support men in gaining a stronger vision for their future.

St Paisios Brotherhood. An online Orthodox men’s community that seeks to define, recover and restore authentic masculinity in the hearts of men; expose the lies that keep men weak and enslave them to vices and bind them to ideologies; and foster and nurture authentic fellowship between men so that a man can discover and grow into who he was created to be.

You've got questions? We've got answers!

Good question! There are several reasons why a men’s retreat can be valuable to you:

— To disconnect from your ordinary life and reconnect with yourself for a few days.

— To challenge you to step out of your comfort zone.

— To spend time in fellowship with like-minded brothers who can encourage you to be better than you are.

— To take a significant step in your relationship with Christ and His Church.

— To gain a little insight (probably) and to have a lot of fun (definitely)!

No. The content of this retreat and the lessons to be presented are completely different from the message of Beloved Sons. If you enjoyed Beloved Sons last year, you’ll enjoy Cry of the Forerunner this year.

Usual dress for Sunday Liturgy. For the rest of the retreat, loose, causal and comfortable. The retreat will include some physical activity. Also, the Male Bonding Party is an outdoor event, so you’ll want to dress for the weather.
Absolutely! There is a group on Telegram, [LINK], Forerunner Retreat Chat, to ask questions, coordinate rides, share rooms, and get help with other logistical issues, and keep updated on the latest news about the retreat.
Because of the personal nature of some of the group exercises, cell phones will not be permitted during the sessions on Friday evening and Saturday evening.
These will be extracurricular activities for you to participate in, if you want to. Information will be posted as soon as its available.
The MBP is a casual, outdoor party for men on the grounds of the church. It is a place and time for men to gather and enjoy the company of other men. Male relatives and friends, if they are old enough to enjoy the outing, are all welcome to register and attend.
Traditional parts of the MBP include:
— A meal that we eat with our hands. 
— A big fire to stand or sit around after the meal.
— Feats of strength (no airing of grievances, however).
The cost of admission covers the meal, snacks, desserts, soda pop and water. If you want harder stuff, be encouraged to BYOB or your favorite six-pack for yourself and to share. You may also want to bring cigars and a lawn chair.

Be at peace. You don’t need to be an Orthodox Christian man to attend the retreat. However, the retreat will take place at an Orthodox church and will include Orthodox worship. If you’re okay with that, and want to be here, we’re glad to have you.

Last year, we had a generous donor who paid the registration fee for several men to attend. We’ve approached him this year, to see if he’s willing to do it again, but we haven’t heard back from him yet. If the money is really an issue for you, contact us, and we’ll let you know if he comes through.

There is a Waiver of Liability form. Every participant in both the Retreat and the Male Bonding Party will be required to sign it as a condition of participation. It will be given to you at registration for the events. You can read a copy of it here: Waiver of Liability.

Use the message box at the bottom of the page and we’ll be glad to respond.


So, what are you waiting for?

Let us know if you need more information:

© Avg2Alpha LLC | Terms & Privacy Policy | Design By Blossom Themes