Some people have said–rightly–that our name is utterly redundant: The Fellowship Community.
That redundancy was on full display at the February 2019 National Gathering in Tulsa, OK…in the best of ways. A family gathered, a network grew deeper and wider, a people worshipped together and friendships were formed and renewed.
The brisk temperatures of Tulsa were more than offset by the incredibly warm hospitality of First Presbyterian Church. Co-pastors Jim Miller and Ryan Moore, church staff, worship leaders and congregation embraced fellow church leaders from all over the country for three days, and the love of volunteers from this community was overwhelming.
As we think back at our time, what words come to mind?
Spaciousness. Even with a schedule full of rich offerings, the word keeps coming up. Room to meet people, to enjoy conversation, pray and pick up ideas.
Gatherings. Meals. Breaks. An Arts Café evening with dessert, a community art project and live jazz music. Ministry partner exhibits. A fellowship gathering.
Tools. A panel on new things God is doing in 5 churches. Interactive workshops on justice (Jon Good, IJM), theology (Adam Neder, Whitworth University), #MeToo & the Church (Elizabeth Brookens-Sturman), the legacy of Eugene Peterson (Dan Baumgartner), the Holy Spirit (Susan Finck, PRMI), the road forward for the Church (Jim Goodloe, Foundation for Reformed Theology) and Multiethnic ministry (Ray Garcia).
Encouragement. In plenaries, retired Navy Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben prodded leaders to lead. Urban LA pastor Dwight Radcliff provoked the group to follow the Holy Spirit into risky territory for Christ. Wheaton’s Ed Stetzer brought research, humor and encouragement to be a truly missional church. Rich worship times included sermons connected to the story of Joshua from Radcliff, Stetzer and National Presbyterian’s (DC) Donna Marsh. The common thread of the Holy Spirit’s presence and call to be “all-in” for faith in Jesus and ministry was unmistakable.
At the end of the time, the feedback was clear- let’s do it again! We will, in several ways. October 2019 will feature both a Pastors’ Gathering and a Theology Conference in San Diego. The 2020 National Gathering will shift from February to May, with location still being finalized. In the meantime- “stir up one another to love and good deeds (Hebrews 10).” All In: heart, soul, mind and strength.