The first REAL day of Transformation was almost too much to process. The day began cool and blessed with wonderful pastries, bagels, coffee, conversation and HUGS lots and lots of HUGS!! We met together in the newly renovated chapel at Wesley Theological Seminary. THAT part was a little hard for me to take, my journey is leading me away from the United Methodist Church and as the Seminary President’s words of “us” (the participants) being the future and of value and their desire to “do things right this time” was so contrary to my experience the tears fell hard onto the floor on this new chapel! But I was determined to NOT let this wonderful time be spoiled by pain…there was too much to be absorbed to focus on that!
Then we opened with Reverend Vince Anderson and the Dirty Gospel Band with Amy Moffit supplying the opening, a wonderful way to begin! Then Kathy Escobar took the floor and told of her community. My head never stopped nodding up and down, tears of recognition and shared experiences filled my eyes from time to time…I really am NOT alone!! The sense of being where I belonged washed over me and I realized just how hungry for this I had been for so very long. Spiritual deprovation is an odd thing, it seems you don’t know just how needy you are until you meet face to face with God’s abundance!
After a break for lunch and more hugs, it was time for our first break out sessions. I chose to go hear Jonathan Brink’s and if I had to be honest it was for two reasons. First, because I was interested to hear what he had to say on Emergent Theology and secondly, because I figured it was where our friendly neighborhood pirate was most likely to choose. I arrived a couple of minutes late and scooted in the side…sure enough, I saw a pirate flag flying in the back row! I went and took a sit next to him and promptly began to focus on the quite interesting theory of the atonement that Jonathan was presenting. Jonathan’s work was presented well but we only got a nibble of the apple, so to speak, the time was insufficient to digest his years of thoughtful work…his book will be published on the subject this summer…more details when they become available. After the session, the Pirate and I had a nice visit about his I-pad…I must admit, I was quite envious at the trappings that a pirate’s salary affords, a much newer Macbook, an I-pad and a DAMN sweet ride! Following that, I had a wonderful time talking with Jesse and then extended an invitation to dinner to everyone including the Pirate, whose name is Chris by the way, not very piratey if you ask me!!
The second breakout session was the one I had looked most forward to! I must at this point admit my fan girl fascination with Hot Metal Bridge Church in Pittsburg, and to be in the presence of it’s co-pastor, (a UMC Elder in Full Connection) who has managed to do the impossible…pastor an emergent congregation in the UMC…I was in awe!! How in the world had he done this? Could it be done anywhere else? Is there still hope and life in the UMC? I was putting an awful lot of pressure on this poor soul to have the answers!!!! His session mostly focused on the functioning of their drama and worship team…which was facination…he in very lectionary based (which means he uses the recommended scripture so that you can experience the fullness of the Christian story in the process of a year) But each week they design worship on Wednesday and perform it on Sunday with very little rehearsal. It was when he opened the floor for questions that I was able to ask the question that had burned in my heart for years…”HOW did you get the Bishop to let you DO this!!!” The answer…”We did it on our own time, without anyone’s approval, it wasn’t until we made the news that the Bishop allowed me to be appointed to it.” WOW I should have seen that coming…not working IN the system, but AROUND it. Not really sure it does anything to improve my relationship with my faith tradition…but it didn’t surprise me.
I will pick up there in the next blog…I PROMISE it will be done later today…I have let this perk in my brain too long, I need to share this tale with you while it is still fresh but has had enough time to have richness and body in the tale of my big adventure!!!