This weekend I returned home from another week of travel that took me to Atlanta and Nashville. My Atlanta trip was built around an invitation by Columbia Theological Seminary to participate in the Emergence NOW conference with Tony Jones, Phyllys Tickle and Phillip Clayton.
My week in Atlanta began with a visit to Central Presbyterian Church where I met with various configurations of the congregation: staff, session and youth. The youth group at Central and I go WAY back . . . all the way to General Assembly in San Jose where they attended as a group. We then ran into each other at the Inauguration and will see each other again in Minneapolis. What a thoughtful and faithful group of folks who just so happen to be young! Thank you!
In terms of the Emergence Now conference, it was a rich time of conversation and
learning. There were certainly some diverse perspectives
expressed about a great many things, but what a wonderful experience of
interaction and exploration as we all discerned what God may have in
store for the larger church. You can see some of the conversation from the live twitter feed: #enow and slides from my presentation on denominations and workshop on social media can be found here.
Here are a few other reflections on the event:
While in Atlanta I also met with a group of campus pastors, chaplains and students for some conversation about the state of campus ministry in our denomination. Needless to say there is a great frustration that was voiced about current denominational support, recent staff cuts and a general perception of a lack of emphasis on campus and college ministry. At the same time, some of the students who were in attendance stressed the importance of the PC(USA)'s presence on their campuses, our willingness to allow folks to questions and our emphasis on a relational ministry.
After Atalanta I then spent a few days with the good folks at the Association of Church Educators (APCE) at the annual gathering held this year in Nashville, TN. I had a wonderful time hanging out with these faithful folks who continue to play a crucial role in the transformation of the church. These are the folks to whom we entrust the educational life of our church, both young and old, so it was wonderful to see the breadth and depth at which they are discerning God's future for the church. A highlight of mine was the first evening when I had the pleasure of joining the Presbyterian Youth Workers Association at their annual dinner where, Lita Simpson (pictured) from Mission Presbytery, was presented with the group's lifetime achievement award.
I will also give a shout out to the folks who had some challenging words for me concerning a recent decision of mine. I so do appreciate that they came to me with all of passion and grace that I would hope for us to extend to one another when we disagree. The offered me strong words of complaint and disappointment while allowing me the room to listen and, hopefully, offer the same graciousness back. Thank you for the conversation and the glass of wine afterward 😉
As my term begins to wind down and I continue to spend time with folks, I am still overwhelmed by the privilege it has been to hold this office. Thank you.