Encounter began in 2016 as a dream to connect incoming OU students to churches and ministries at the University of Oklahoma.
After talking with friends who attended Impact Retreat at Texas A&M, founder Audrey Base was inspired to pursue a similar retreat at OU. Audrey and co-founder, Chesney Woodcheck Barker, started meeting with Impact leaders to form a structure for Encounter.
In the fall of 2017, the first Encounter Retreat was held with over 50 freshmen in attendance for a weekend of worship and community building at Wildwood Community Church in Norman. Sixteen ministries and parachurches attended the first conference, and since 2017, Encounter has built relationships with a growing number of ministries and Christian organizations in Norman and the OKC area.
In 2018, Encounter moved the retreat to Sullivant Retreat center for the first overnight, three-day summer retreat experience. Since then, Encounter has continued growing in numbers of campers, staff, and ministry partners, thanks to the generosity of God, the Encounter community, and the Body of Christ in Norman.
In 2019, Encounter officially partnered with TURN Ministries, a non-profit organization which exists to support, develop, and launch campus-based, retreat-style ministries for incoming college students. Through TURN, we have been able to connect with similar ministries at campuses across the nation.
Because of COVID-19, Encounter 2020 was held successfully in an online format, and had a record breaking number of campers in attendance. Although it wasn’t what we expected for the retreat when we started planning it, God moved in the hearts of the campers and staff in incredible ways!
We’re so excited to see what God continues to do with Encounter in the future! We will continue to pray for growth and remain faithful in pursuing incoming students at the University of Oklahoma.