“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us” Hebrews 12:1.
From an early age, we understand what a circle represents. We make circles and play circle games – Ring Around the Rosy and Duck Duck Goose. We learn that the circle is a place of belonging and that there is room for others to join in the fun.
The Association of Church Educators (APCE) is an important circle for people serving in the faith formation and educational ministries of the church. The APCE circle is a place for connecting, enriching, empowering, and sustaining. Our APCE circle is a wider circle thanks to the faith and practice of educators for the last fifty + years.
George Carlin wrote, “If people stand in a circle long enough, they will eventually begin to dance.” Circles of faith help us to dance. As members of APCE, we want to dance into the next fifty years. At the up-coming annual event (2022), we celebrate and honor the great cloud of witnesses that went before us — the 50 years + one of saints whose faithfulness made APCE possible. We welcome those new to our circle to dance with us as each day we explore the never-ending, ever-expanding circle of faith that represents the circle of God’s love and grace.
There is a theological term, perichoresis. It describes the connection between Parent, Son, and Holy Spirit. The imagery suggests a circular dance. The word itself comes from the Greek peri, meaning around, and chorein, meaning to give way or to make room. Perichoresis could be translated as rotation or going around — in other words, a circular dance. All members of the dance move as one, precisely and fluidly, to create meaningful work together.
The 2022 APCE Annual Event will provide many opportunities to do meaningful work with God and with one another. We will reconnect with people who are part of our circles and connect to new people that expand and strengthen our circles. We will be enriched in ways that stretch our circles of faith and in ways that prepare us to empower our faith communities. We will be sustained as we are enlivened by the work, dance, and life of our triune God who is always widening our circles with new people, insights, grace, and love. Throughout the event, we will reflect on how our circles have widened throughout the years.
Mark Miller, our worship leader, wrote chorale music to Gordon Light’s words for the song, “Draw the Circle Wide.” The words speak to the vision of our event:
Draw the circle wide,
draw it wider still.
Let this be our song: no one stands alone.
Standing side by side, draw the circle, draw the circle wide. . .
God, the still-point of the circle,
Round you all creation turns.
Nothing lost but held forever
in God’s gracious arms.
Let our hearts touch far horizons
So encompass great and small.
Let our loving know no borders
Faithful to God’s call.
Let the dreams we dream be larger
Than we’ve ever dreamed before.
Let the dream of Christ be in us
Open every door!
We look forward to seeing you walk through the doors at the APCE Annual Event where together we will dance, celebrate, and draw our circles wider in this connecting, enriching, empowering, and sustaining circle of faith that we call APCE – for 50 years + one and beyond.
Scholarship deadlines extended to November 15, 2021: https://apcenet.org/scholarships/
Kirsty DePree, 2022 APCE Annual Event co-chair
Kirsty, an educator, minister of word and sacrament, and former coordinator of discipleship ministries for the Reformed Church of America (RCA), is serving as interim pastor for the West Lebanon Congregational Church in Hawthorne, New Hampshire, as she completes her clinical pastoral education (CPE) at Dartmouth.
Candace Hill, 2022 APCE Annual Event co-chair
Candace, former coordinator of educational ministries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is a retired Certified Associate Christian Educator and the 2019 APCE Sustain awardee.