Year after year, there are so many wonderful aspects to the Association of Presbyterian Church Educator’s Annual Event—old and new friends, helpful workshops, and inspiring worship and plenaries. Little Rock 2020 promises to offer all of these vital benefits, plus some fun and “outside the box” excitement.
First, the city of Little Rock will surprise you with its four-star restaurants and nationally significant landmarks. The conference hotel and convention center looks out on the scenic Arkansas River. Wonder through the sculpture garden and Arkansas River Walk (or take the free trolley!) to visit the headquarters of Heifer International. Be inspired by their state-of-the-art LEED certified building, urban gardens, fun farm animals, and enticing gift shop.
Right next door, the modern Clinton Presidential Library towers beside the Arkansas River, offering an interactive walk through history. On Saturday evening, our Local Committee has arranged a reception and cash bar to be available while all APCE attendees enjoy strolling through the Library.
Either as a pre-event or as a workshop, you’ll have the opportunity to take a 10-minute bus ride to visit the Little Rock Central High School and National Historic Site. As the United States continues to struggle with issues of race and equality, Central High School provides a visceral look into our past and challenging mandates for our future.
With the city of Little Rock as our setting, this year’s Annual Event will dive into the theme “Getting Outside the Box: Discipleship through Retreat, Mission, and Justice Ministries.” Two powerhouse pastors will lead our worship and plenary sessions. Theresa Cho serves as co-pastor of St. John’s Presbyterian Church in San Francisco and is a prolific teacher, preacher, writer, and retreat leader. Lisa Sharon Harper is the founder and president of FreedomRoad.us, a consulting group dedicated to shrinking the narrative gap in our nation by convening forums that bring common understanding, commitment, and action toward a just world. Her latest book is The Very Good Gospel: How Everything Wrong can be Made Right. Together, Cho and Harper will investigate what our theme scripture (Luke 10:1–11 Jesus Sending Out the Seventy) is calling educators to try in their discipleship ministries today.
One of the best ways to escape the cramped boxes of conventional church programming is to invite the Spirit to work through liturgical music and arts. This year’s APCE 2020 Annual Event is thrilled to welcome John Bell as the worship leader. Bell is an ordained minister in the Church of Scotland and a member of the Iona Community, where he develops resources in the areas of music and worship with the Wild Goose Resource Group. Collaborating with Bell, the four liturgical artist and pastors of A Sanctified Art will serve as the conference artists. They will craft the worship space and liturgy, design the Spirituality Studio, and offer multiple workshops on integrating art with Christian education and worship. It should be a feast for the senses!
Another providential benefit of the annual event’s location in Little Rock is the proximity to the Presbyterian Ferncliff Camp and Conference Center. Over the last decades, Ferncliff has pioneered “Outside the Box” camp and conference ministries with such innovative programs as a nature preschool, a “Forrest Church” new church development, Solar Under the Sun School, “The Over the Hill Gang” wood working shop, a young adult volunteer site, and much more. Annual Event attendees will have opportunities to tour the camp, attend workshops on some of their inventive programs, and retreat to the camp after the event.
Ferncliff is also home to a Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) Center, which processes school supplies, hygiene, and cleaning kits for neighbors in need. Inside the annual event marketplace, find the PDA tables to help screen, stamp, and package these kits to be ready for transport. Together, we can make a difference! The staff of PDA will also be present and show several of their award-winning documentaries. Through workshops and evening screenings, you can learn how to use these documentaries to raise awareness in your educational ministries.
As a warmly hospitable mid-sized city, Little Rock makes travel easy and enjoyable. Located right in the middle of the country, Little Rock should be a short drive for many educators. The city’s small airport is simple to navigate, and both conference hotels provide a free, ten-minute shuttle to and from the airport. The Marriott Hotel, Statehouse Convention Center, and workshop rooms are all under the same roof (albeit a large one!). At least two-dozen tasty restaurants are located within walking distance of the conference. And, there is a Starbucks in the Marriott Hotel lobby. All this to say, Little Rock is an inviting, interesting, and exciting spot for APCE’s 2020 Annual Event. Come and “Get Outside the Box!” January 29 through February 1, 2020.