Kindling and a Summer of Conferences: Why we gather
This summer is full of gatherings.
As a representative of The Episcopal Church, I have been shuttling from conference to conference, to training session, to planning meeting. The rhythm of parish life lightens in the summer, so the conference season picks up.
One example is the Episcopal Youth Event (#EYE14) which begins in Philadelphia next week. From July 9-13, more than a thousand Episcopalians (mostly teenagers) will gather and remind us that youth are not the future of the church. They are the most vibrant presence of the church in our world today.
In 2006 I attended the General Convention of The Episcopal Church for the first time. The sheer number of Episcopalians, the vast array of religious communities and ministries, amazed me. After Bishop Katharine was elected Presiding Bishop, I remember my bishop sharing something she had said to him about the importance of gathering.
According to Bishop Katharine, who was an oceanographer before she was a bishop, humpback whales spend most of the year living in far-flung places all across the Pacific ocean. Each humpback sings her own individual song. Once a year they gather together to breed and feed, and as they gather their individual songs melt into one common tune. That is what can happen when we gather, our individual tunes, our individual visions can coalesce. We can capture a more complete understanding of the dream God has for us as a community of faith in service to our world.
More than all of the other gatherings this summer, I confess, I am excited about Kindling. Through this conference at the University of Minnesota from July 28-31, leaders in ministry with young adults on and off college campuses will have a chance to gather. We’ve structured our time so we will spend the bulk of it learning from one another, hearing the various songs from various places.
I am really looking forward to seeing what can be born when some of the most creative people in ministry: college chaplains and young adult ministry leaders come together in one place.
What new songs can we sing together?