By: Julie Gvillo and Barbi Smith
Chaos. It has existed since the beginning of time, when God brought chaos into order through creation. For many, the opposite of chaos is order; but for some, it is peace.
Chaos continues to exist and haunt us. Meetings to attend, emails to answer, reports to write, programs to implement, volunteers to supervise, household chores to complete, yard work to get done, parenting responsibilities to fulfil, including helping with homework, attending or supervising school activities and sports functions; volunteer obligations to meet, elderly parents to care for…. The list goes on. It’s a crazy life! Order seems out of reach. Chaos surrounds us, overwhelms us and consumes the peace we want, the peace God wants for us, the peace Christ offers us. Then, the still small voice of God says, “Come and rest with me.”
The 2017 Association of Presbyterian Church Educators Annual Event in Denver is a time of grounding, a place of renewal and rest, a refuge of peace. Leaving behind the insanity of the world in which we live, we will gather together on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, and open our hearts to God’s holy presence among us. Those who arrive early have the opportunity to participate in Holy Yoga or several bonus workshops. The Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber, Lutheran (ELCA) pastor, founder of House for all Sinners and Saints, and author of Pastrix: the Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint and Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People, will lead both in worship and in plenary as we explore our daily theme, Trusting in the Chaos. Regional dinners will be followed by opening night entertainment, “A Taste of Colorado,” offered by our amazing Local Committee. And there we will breathe…just breathe…and rest in the presence of the One who offers peace.
Through the second day’s theme, Seeking Refuge in the Chaos, we will remind one another that God is constant in the midst of change. Our colleagues and friends will lead us in worship they planned at the early bird workshop, “Co-creating Uniquely Beautiful Worships,” on Wednesday. The Rev. Jon Brown, whom you may remember from the PC(USA) General Assembly offices and Montreat Conference Center, will provide leadership for worship as well as present the plenary. During our free evening, we will have the opportunity to choose from several options, including a concert at Central Presbyterian Church in Denver with David LaMotte, an award-winning song-writer, singer and speaker, who has performed over 2500 concerts and released eleven full-length CD’s. And again, we will breathe…just breathe…and rest in the presence of the One who offers peace.
On Friday, we will cap off a day of workshops with Holy Humor worship, led by Carl Horton from the Peacemaking Office of the PC(USA) General Assembly, with worship and plenary leadership by Rev. Dr. Larron Jackson, former NFL player (Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons) and Missouri Sports Hall of Fame inductee, Area Minister for the American Baptist Church in the Rocky Mountains, and author of The Ghetto, the Gridiron, and the Gospel. Then, we will celebrate our award recipients and present our most recently certified church educators before joining together in a group mission project and a concert by The River’s Voice. Through the day’s theme, Finding Strength in the Chaos, we will learn from and support one another, drawing on the strength of God to do both. And again, we will breathe…just breathe…and rest in the presence of the One who offers peace.
On Saturday, the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, Pastor of Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, will lead our worship and plenary as she explores Claiming Victory in the Chaos. As we come together at the table, we will be renewed and restored by God. And for the last day that we are all together, we will again breathe…just breathe…and rest in the presence of the One who offers peace.
Throughout the Annual Meeting, we will have opportunities to enjoy fellowship with one another as we share meals, participate in one or more of the seventy workshops, and connect and reconnect in Brain Breaks and Prayer Activities. The Presbyterian Youth Workers Association (PYWA) Lounge will offer healing and restoration as we reach out to those who offer pastoral care. The Spirituality Center, designed by Cindy Moorman, will offer prayer stations that focus on the charge to “be still and know.” And more opportunities to breathe…just breathe!
We look forward to this time of healing and expectation, of refuge and strength, of courage and victory. We hope you are making plans now to join us. Chaos calls, but all we really need is just to breathe.
Julie Gvillo and Barbi Smith
2017 Annual Event Co-chairs