By: Thom Cunningham

Cunningham_APCE 2016 INVITES YOU

My son wanted to step out on the “Ledge” last year on his 7th birthday. The Ledge is a glass box that hangs 1,353 feet above Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on the 103rd floor of the Willis Tower, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. As my family waited in line for the elevators to the Ledge, I could see in my son’s face that fear was beginning to challenge the excitement of something new. In the elevator he looked up at me with terror in his eyes and asked, “Do I have to do it?”

As an educator, I can empathize with the internal controversy of wanting to try something new but fearing the tasks and risks that are required to make that new thing happen. We fall into the rut of what is familiar, rather than stepping forward into whatever God is up to. This year’s annual church educator event is designed to ignite your soul, give you courage, and help you leap into something new in faith formation. Educators from hundreds of churches will get  glimpses into tried innovations that have worked!

Come to Chicago where God can spark something new for you and for God’s ministry through you! Don’t let the New Year 2016 begin same-old, same-old—risk yourself into the possibilities of God’s new thing!

Annual Event 2016 Promises

Second City – We welcome Second City, a world-renowned comedy troupe, to center stage! Their brand of improv and music will have you laughing hysterically and thinking deeply. While the dinner fare is still a surprise, we can assure you it is Chicago classic and abundant!

Food for Thought – The first 600 APCE 2016 registrants will receive Lillian Daniel’s latest book, When “Spiritual but Not Religious” Is Not Enough: Seeing God in Surprising Places, Even the Church. The author—vibrant, cogent, and looking bravely “over the ledge”—is our Keynoter!

ED Talks – Like TED talks, these short, sparky, stirring presentations by some of the leading thinkers in the field of Faith Formation and transformation will challenge attendees. They will cast visions around us as they share what they see of the “New” that God has put on the horizon for God’s people.

Ignite Talks – Born in the “field” of churches and Christian endeavor all over the country, the Ignite venue offers opportunity to experience short views of new ideas and innovation that are springing forth in local congregations. Perhaps you are part of something amazing in your own work. Consider being an Ignite presenter by posting the new thing God is doing near you on the Ignite link at the APCE website,

Off-Site Adventures – Get out and about!  See and do something new! Every adventure is intended to grant experience and give you new ideas to take home:

  • Take a personally guided tour of the Chicago Art Institute.
  •  Spend an afternoon in Historic Pilsen to experience the National Museum of Mexican Art,  sample delicacies at a delectable Mexican bakery, and witness fascinating cross-cultural ministry exposures.
  • Tour astounding Tiffany Windows at Second Presbyterian Church and learn from seeing how God’s story can sparkle in the light.
  • Be a part of Night Ministry—a roving bus mission to the homeless children of God on the streets of Chicago. Put your concern into action as you prepare an actual meal to feed the hungry.
  •  Free Night! (How long since you’ve had one of those?)

At the Welcome Booth you’ll find the details of small group “gadabouts” with other educators who are up for Broadway in Chicago, dinner above the lights on top of the Hancock Building, amazing Jazz at the House of Blues, an entire campus of world famous museums, an architectural boat tour, food, food, and more food! You could even take the elevators of the Willis Tower so that you, too, could step out on the LEDGE! No need to bring a friend (though all are welcome!) –you’ll make new friends!

Pre & Post Conference Fun – The Magnificent Mile Marriott Hotel, where the APCE Annual Event 2016 Chicago is taking place, is graciously willing to provide “conference” rate rooms three days prior and post conference. There is so much to do in Chicago; you may need more time to do it! Please contact the concierge at The Marriott at 312-836-0100 to begin building your adventure today!

Annual Event 2016 Chicago—Step out into the Possible—Let God do a new thing in you!

Thom Cunningham Thom Cunningham has served as the Director of Faith Formation and Mission at First Presbyterian Church of Deerfield, Illinois for 23 years. He received his Masters of Theology from McCormick Seminary in 1998 and became a Certified Christian Educator in 2000. He served on the PC(USA) Youth Mission Task Force team and on the board of GLAPCE. Thom is married and has three wonderful children