I know, I haven’t been much of a blogger lately, but there are lots of things I haven’t done lately since I 1) celebrated the birth of our son, and 2) helped plant a church with some awesome people. I shall blog about the things I’ve given up sometime.
But while I’m in California this week for a conference, I’m actually afforded a bit of time to reflect AND write about things, and so this brings you today’s post about Midwinter 2013, an annual conference that our denomination, the Evangelical Covenant Church hosts every year.
Hope Church NYC belongs to this family of churches, and the ECC has been a wonderful support for us through our first few months of existence.
This week, I’m learning more and more about the denomination, and it’s been a sweet time to hearing of the history and culture of the ECC on a broader scale (Prior to this, I only had a chance to interact with folks from our East Coast Conference).
A few things have stood out thus far in the conference (the conference lasts until Friday – I’ve been here Mon-Tue thus far), and I thought I’d share them here.
1) This is more like a family reunion than a conference – I’ve seen more hugs and hang-outs here than any other conference I’ve been to. This is a denominational gathering that the people here seem to LOVE to attend, mostly to see friends in ministry. All the training, workshops, plenaries seem to be added bonuses to the main prize – reconnecting with God through friendships made amongst “mission friends”.
2) This is the most intergenerational and ethnically diverse conference I’ve been to – Most conferences usually have a specific type of audience, understandably, whether it’s a conference that tends to have a younger crowd or an older crowd or a megachurch-y crowd or a minority crowd.
There are so many people at this conference SIMILAR to me and DISSIMILAR to me. It’s a bit jarring and comforting at the same time.
3) I feel at home – This probably deserves another blog post, but there’s so much about the heartbeat of this denomination that resonates with me. The churches and church leaders I’ve encountered here are SO different than me and our context at Hope, and yet, there’s a similar thread and heartbeat that weaves us together. Amazing.
4) Better together – I believe one of the Covenant World Missions folks used this phrase, and it’s such a delightful phrase to describe who we are and what we can be when we work together.
This spirit of relationship and unity really permeates the culture – or at least amongst the folks I’ve encountered thus far.
That sounds familiar, something akin to “the world will know that you are my disciples by your love.”
I’ll share more as the conference wraps up on Friday, but yeah, it’s been a really sweet time for me to immerse myself in this family of churches and ministries.
Drinking the Kool-Aid…