“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.”
An Invitation to Hope
Dear Friends In Christ,
There is much that has weighed us down in these past months with the twin pandemics of COVID 19 and racism. Much that we have relied on in terms of how we worship and engage with church life has been necessarily reordered. Long-overdue conversations and action related to racism are finding a renewed urgency. Still there is much work to do. There is much toward which God is leading us in these days.
It is with this reality in mind that I invite you to be part of the Heartland Conference Virtual Annual Gathering: “From Pandemics to Possibilities” on September 26, from 9 am – noon via Zoom. You can register by clicking this link here. (Your $20 registration fee will help us cover some tech costs related to our gathering.) Based on the passage from Isaiah above, the Annual Gathering planning committee has been hard at work designing a time that we hope will be inspiring and empowering for us all. I want you to know what the shape of this gathering is going to look like.
Using a model of life articulated by Old Testament theologian the Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann in his study of the Psalms, our gathering will have three moves or sections: Orientation (Where have we been?), Disorientation (Where are we now?), and Re-orientation (Where is God leading us?). Each of these sections will be fifty minutes in length with a ten minute break. Each section will be wrapped in devotions and theological reflection. The breaks will feature music from around the conference.
The Orientation section will give us a chance to look back and celebrate the ways in which our shared ministry has been positively shaping the world. It will include voices from around the conference, the national setting, and from our international partnerships. Our hope is that this pause will help surface for each of us memories from our own experience where the love of God has been active and powerful, even despite the weight of the time in which we live.
The Disorientation session will give us an opportunity to engage with each other. Because we won’t have the gift of meal-time conversations, this section will give us a chance to lay our burdens down and also to share the learnings that are coming daily through this extraordinary time. In a season of physical distancing, our hope is that this will provide an opportunity for more personal connection and also a chance to meet new friends on the journey.
The Re-Orientation session will give us an opportunity to share what has been going on with the Vision Plan (quite a bit ☺), sharing about ongoing and new initiatives of collaboration and networking, and tending to the things necessary for our shared life to thrive in this new season (budgets, elections, etc.).
I really look forward to being with you at this year’s Annual Gathering! I am excited for the mutual encouragement from the Holy Spirit which I know we will discover when we are together. May the blessing of God rest on you all in this and every season. “See you” on the 26th!
Blessings, Pastor Dave