Under the Big Tent

My daughter Julia and I set out for Raleigh NC last tuesday at 7:30am taking I-40 781 miles through the home of country music, the great Smokey Mountians and then to the hotel where we CRASHED after our 12 hour drive that took 16 hours.

But Morning came early and we were headed for the church for the “pre conference” pastor’s meeting.  Then after a quick lunch it began!! 35 speakers in a day and a half.  It was PACKED!! And to be quite honest I was a bit overwhelmed by the pace of it. I am just one of those people who needs to process and absorb what it being said, I also learn much from the questions that the body asks, there didn’t to seem to be much time for that at all.  It wasn’t that there weren’t highlights and wonderfully memorable moments, but I feel as if I have forgotten much more than I remember.

The things I do remember include, the wonderful explanation Phyllis Tickle gave for the Umbrella of Emergent that she paralleled with the term Denominations and the idea of different and distinctly unique schools of thought that comprise Emergent Christianity.  And Brian McLaren as he counted through the things that he had lost and then went back and told of the things he had gained because of it. Other memorable speakers included Pete Rollins, Hugh Hollowell, Shane Claiborne (who is just adorable by the way), Nadia Bolz-Weber (who made me cry), Brian Ammons, Kimberly Knight and Jay Bakker. By the end of the conference I felt shell shots and fuzzy, too many ideas had hit me like cannonballs, too much information to process properly.  Doug and Tony did the best they could to keep things moving which at times was welcome and at times made me want to rebel (or maybe that is just the little streak of Outlaw in me!).

As with most of these things, the conversations away from the presenters was the most meaningful experience.  Getting to know Jonathan Brink more closely was a joy.  We have embraced Amber into our family of faith.  Meeting Jacob Beaver was wonderful and just sitting outside at Mike’s house smoking a cigar (thanks to Jacob) with Jacob, Jay, Pete, Amber, Brandon, Julia, Zihna and Julia was awesome!!

While it felt as if it was far to little time to try to absorb far too much information, connection, blessings, teachings, family time, friendship and growth still all in all I felt that my cup ran over under the Big Tent.  I was blessed to feel included, valued, and a part of a bigger body of Christ.

Our return trip home took even longer and included tire trouble and a stop in every state in the south except Florida!! We are home and mostly recovered but permanently affected by our time Under the Big Tent!!

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