Come join us at the 2013 Annual Event in Orlando where we’ll experience the spirit of God through play. As God’s redeemed creation in Christ, we believe that God has gifted us with the ability to both work and play. We know that Christ came that we might have abundant life; therefore, let us celebrate the freedom to love God and each other in response to God’s love for us.

Psalm 148:12-13, the verses chosen for the 2013 event, proclaim, “Young men and women alike, old and young together! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for his name alone is exalted; his glory is above earth and heaven.” So, why focus on play? Play enables us to be the people God has created us to be and to celebrate our life in Christ. God did not create us to be alone, rather God made us to be in relationship with each other and with God. Through play we can break down walls that divide, reach out and connect with one another, build community, and free ourselves to prepare for service and worship. What better location to play than Orlando?

The Annual Event Committee has worked hard to offer a variety of opportunities for all of us to enjoy. Here is a glimpse of some of what will happen in Orlando:

  • Plan to arrive early or extend your stay. The DoubleTree Hotel at Universal is granting us the same conference rate on our rooms three days before and after days after our event.
  • Pre-conference options will include trips to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida Solar Energy Center and Brevard County Museum, Morse Museum of American Art and Winter Park.
  • Other pre-conference events will be gleaning an orange grove with the Society of St. Andrew, Presbyterian Youth Workers Association’s afternoon with Michael Novelli, and, if the weather cooperates, swimming with the manatees.
  • In-depth seminars will begin on Tuesday, February 5: They include the Mission World Aventure at EPCOT with Kathy Dawson or a five-hour seminar with Rodger Nishioka. The Large Church Conference will also meet on Tuesday.
  • Our opening playtime celebration is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 6. At that time, we will welcome our keynote speaker, Jaco J. Hamman, professor of pastoral care and counseling at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI, and our worship leader, Michelle Thomas-Bush, associate pastor for youth and their families at Myers Park Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Hugh Donnelly, music leader and minister of Guildwood Community Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, Ontario, will engage us in play through singing and dancing.
  • Following the welcome dinner, the Orlando Local Committee will present Let’s Play in God’s Small World. Through a variety of activities we will learn about countries, cultural/ethnic groups, or organizations related to the history of Central Florida.
  • Three days of workshops will be offered, and you will be thrilled by the variety. Be ready for such choices as Harry’s Still with Us, Hospitality: What do Orlando’s Theme Parks Have to Teach Us?, Playing with Prayer, The Camels are Coming, and numerous others that focus on worship, music, creative arts, community building, recreation and play.
  • Two free evenings are scheduled so that you can take advantage of the various local attractions. Universal City Walk is across the street or a $5 cab ride (split with your favorite playmates, that’s a deal)!
  • You will be able to browse the Market Place and gather resources from a variety of vendors. Authors will be signing books around the pool on Thursday, and they will be joined by other special guests. Start praying now for nice, warm Florida weather!
  • We will have the opportunity to give cheerfully to the annual Val Murphy Scholarship offering. Up to two of these scholarships are given each year with first consideration given to racial/ethnic persons working in the field of Christian education, who are also students majoring in Christian education. A portion of this same offering will go to IDignity, an organization started by five churches in downtown Orlando to help disadvantaged people in Central Florida overcome the difficulties of obtaining the personal identification that is crucial to enabling them to become self-sufficient. For more information, see Plan now to give generously.
  • On Saturday, communion and some play offerings from different workshops will enhance our closing worship service.

We believe that God created us  to have an abundant and joy-filled life. We are excited about the many ways that we will experience God’s Spirit through play when we gather in February 2013. When we play, sing, laugh, and connect with each other, the walls that divide come down, and we are free to be with one another and with God. Together we can be sustained in our mission and faith as we play and worship together, enrich our lives, and empower ourselves and others to do ministry as God’s people. See you in Orlando for Let Us Play!

Clarisse Durnell In 1998 Clarisse graduated from the newly federated Union-PSCE. Since then she has worked as a director of Christian Education for several local congregations and has served as a mission associate for youth and young adults for New Castle Presbytery. Clarisse is currently the director of Christian education at First Presbyterian Church Sarasota in Sarasota, FL. Clarisse has only missed two APCE Annual Events since graduating from PSCE-UNION. Clarisse was asked to co-chair the event in Orlando because of her very enthusiastic spirit, and somehow that spirit played into the developing theme. Clarisse loves watching mindless reality show TV, hanging with friends and family, laughing so loud she raises the dead, eating Asian food, shopping for clothes, and traveling to explore the richest cultures of the world that God has created.

Sonia Lee is director of Christian Education at Philadelphia Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, NC. Sonia is an avid Parrothead (Fins up!) who loves Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and cheering for the mighty Clemson Tigers. In her play time, she enjoys camping, reading, Farkeling, spending time at the beach, chilling with friends on her “Dock,” laughing from the depths of her soul with her sister, Clarisse, and re-creating with the community of faith.