By: Elizabeth Lovell Milford
Throughout history, Baltimore, Maryland, has been the host to many stories of overcoming fear:
- In September 1814, as bombs burst along the shoreline of Baltimore’s Fort McHenry, a British invasion seemed imminent. But as the smoke cleared, a large American flag fluttered, and Francis Scott Key was inspired. Overcoming fear gave way to a song of hope that became our national anthem.
- In the midst of the Civil War, Harriet Tubman and other abolitionists guided former slaves into freedom through Maryland’s Eastern Shore along the Underground Railroad Byway, overcoming fear in pursuit of liberation.
- A century later, many in Baltimore were active in the Civil Rights movement, overcoming fear to move forward in trying times of racial tension and riots. These stories continue to be told today about the prominent role of African-Americans in our city’s history at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum.
- In the 21st century, we know that fear still plays a pivotal role in our lives, and there is much work yet to be done as the story continues.
The story of our faith is not that different. From Noah’s Ark to Exodus, Psalms to Prophets, and Miracles to Empty Tomb, the Bible is full of moments where the Spirit brought God’s people through times of fear and into the hope and excitement of a new beginning. As God’s children, called to lead others, we must act in faith and bear witness to God’s unfolding kingdom—not just in stories from long ago, but in stories of the here and now. Educational ministry is ripe with these experiences, which will break through fear and lead us into the future God has planned. Not sure what all of this looks like? Fear not! The Annual Event in 2015 will host ample opportunities for learning and conversation as we discern what it means to lead the church in times of fear and confusion.
Come early to take advantage of several excellent pre-event opportunities. Join Dr. Katie Geneva Cannon (professor of Christian ethics at Union Presbyterian Seminary) for a special day-long event: Fear Not: Embodying the Wisdom Embedded in African American Sacred Rhetoric. Travel one hour south to enjoy our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C., exploring the Smithsonian Institution or connecting with the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Office of Public Witness. Embark on a spiritual pilgrimage to Gettysburg, or stay more locally with a fabulous few hours in historic Annapolis.
During the Annual Event, we will overcome our fears together in community, beginning with a fabulous opening night event. Our keynote and worship leaders, the Rev. Dr. Brian Blount (President of Union Presbyterian Seminary) and the Rev. Carol Howard Merritt (noted speaker and award-winning author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation) will both challenge and inspire us. The conversation has already begun online through the APCE Alerts and Facebook. Workshops will cover a wide range of topics sure to encourage you as you lead in your own setting, and engage you with the ongoing stories of others, including some of the incredible ministries in the Baltimore area. Spend time learning with our offering recipient, The Center, an organization who seeks to partner with local congregations, and visit mission groups to examine the intersection where compassion meets justice. Venture off-site for a taste of the rich culture and history of the city, from the American Visionary Art Museum, to fascinating churches and cathedrals, to Civil Rights history. Discover ways to better care for creation with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and the Chesapeake Interfaith Environmental Group. Connect with friends old and new to witness to the ways God is working in and through us to overcome fear and bring messages of hope.
Our location at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel offers spectacular views of the Inner Harbor, a popular tourist destination with a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and attractions. Be sure to make time to visit some of the 17,000 animals at the National Aquarium. The Harbor East area around the hotel boasts many entertainment and dining options, and many other neighborhoods are also within walking distance, from Little Italy to Fell’s Point, offering culinary delights and experiences that have helped earn Baltimore the nickname “Charm City.” Venturing out a bit further is also easy, thanks to the free Charm City Circulator shuttle, which offers four routes throughout the city that will take you to attractions such as the B&O Railroad Museum, Walters Art Museum, and the Babe Ruth Birthplace and Sports Legends Museum at Camden Yards.
Finally, while Baltimore might be known for its delicious blue crabs (which you should try several ways when you are here), we promise the locals are anything but crabby! The local committee for the 2015 Annual Event is thrilled to welcome you to Baltimore. For more about what our city has to offer, check out Visit Baltimore, and check out the APCE website and Facebook group for more tips and teasers about exciting opportunities as the event gets closer. In February, pack your fears in your suitcase, then bring them to Baltimore and trade them for signs of hope for the future of educational ministry and the church. Fear Not! God will show us the way.
Elizabeth Lovell Milford serves as Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Mission at Harundale Presbyterian Church in Glen Burnie, Maryland, and has been a member of APCE since 2005. She and Rachel Cunningham are excited to co-chair the local committee for the annual event in 2015 and welcome APCE members to Baltimore!