Tuesday, October 18, 2011

NW District Conference Day 2

Today was day two for me in Oregon. We woke up early to drive from Portland to Seaside. This is normally an hour drive but it took two hours due to traffic. Traffic leaving Portland was bad but not near as bad as the oncoming lane for those commuting into Portland. The drive was gorgeous. I kept saying I felt like I was in Brazil (I’ve never been to Brazil but it was like what I’d imagine Brazil to be like). There was a constant dense population of very tall evergreen trees. Most of them had thick moss growing up the trunk. It was incredible.
Morning Traffic leaving Portland
We arrived in Seaside and hit up the outlet mall for a couple hours before checking into our hotel. After check in we headed to the Seaside convention center for the opening session of the NW district all workers conference.

Our hotel is LITERALLY across the street from the Convention center

The theme this year is “Walking Toward Oneness” based on Ephesians 4:11-13. The opening two large group sessions were led by Rev. Jack Preus. In each of the two hour session he presented on unity vs. diversity and whether one is good or bad and how as church workers we can embrace diversity without losing the unity of ONE theology, that is the Word of God. The presentation was good. After presenting he opened the floor for questions and comments and I must admit it got a little long as the pastors got into deep debate. Perhaps it’s because I’m young and see things in a different light but some of the questions posed were not as complicated (to me at least) as they made them out to be.

After the large group sessions we had a break for dinner. Jamie, Gretchen and I went to a quaint little place called McKeown’s. Three pastors also accompanied us. Pastor Brad (Seattle, WA), Pastor Mark ( Bremerton, Wa), and Pastor Matthew (Des Moines, Washington). It was great to converse with them. They are all young pastors within five years of just finishing seminary. It was great to talk with them about everything from the future of the LCMS, to the new generation, to sports.

Out to Dinner
After dinner we headed back for the highlight of my day. We broke into our group sessions ie: DCE, Pastors etc. All of the DCE’s at the convention were together in one room. THAT was more like it. I sometimes feel like DCE’s are the lost crowd. We are not pastors so the “pastoral talk” does not quite fit us. We are not teachers so all the “schooling talk” does not fit us (although we are directors of Christian EDUCATION) so one might confuse us as such. We are also not deacons/deaconesses. I was conversing with my fellow DCE workers and we discussed how we do not fit in with the LEA (Lutheran Education Association) conventions, nor pastoral conventions, we are a group all our own. Because we are all our own I think that sometimes people don’t know exactly what it is that a DCE does.

With that said it was very refreshing to have time just for DCE’s to be together. We broke into groups of three, and got to know each other on a smaller scale. While I was meeting people I found out just how small the world is. Of all people to meet I met Tracy Prescher (former MN Camp Omega Program Director) who is now serving in the Northwest District at camp Perkins in Idaho. Who would have thought? I also met two other people from Minnesota, one of whom grew up in Pipestone just an hour away from me. I guess when you are in the Lutheran world one is never far from home.
Tracy and I
After the evening break-out session we moved into evening Taize worship. Taize is a worship of meditative singing and scripture contemplation. Taize is held every Tuesday night at Concordia St. Paul and I rather enjoy this service so it was refreshing to be apart of it once again.

Taize this evening was exactly what I needed. I shall now delve into the deep life of an intern. Being an intern sometimes the wellness wheel is not always in balance. What I mean by that is that as a spiritual leader, sometimes one lacks being spiritually fed. Although I do not hold a Pastor position there are very few worship services where I can actually be present in front of God. Often times its thinking about what song I'm leading next, or if the Children's church volunteers have all their supplies, or what I'm teaching after the service for high school.

Taize this evening was FANTASTIC. I got to simply BE. Maybe it was the channeling energy of the service setting back at CSP, or perhaps being surrounded by hundreds of church workers, but it was overpowering.

Taize began with silence, something that many of us lack. I think that we are afraid of silence, but tonight, together as a NW district we got to EMBRACE the silence. Then altogether we silently read Psalm 78:1-6...

My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old— things we have heard and known, things our ancestors have told us. We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.

After that people called out a word or phrase the stuck out to them. It was neat to hear what was chosen. We then went into a time of confession by singing a South African Folk song "Senze nínah" which means "What have we done" God really was working through those around me mainly Gretchen who tonight God used to enhance the worship experience through simply her singing next to me.

After that we went into prayer where we sang Kyrie Eleison after each petition. At one point the worship leader opened a time for people to speak out loud a name, or word (not a full, flashy prayer) but a simple word, as God knows what is on our heart. This was overpowering! Some people whispered names or words while others spoke more loud, but the room was filled with petitions prayer, and it led me to goosbumps. I cannot describe it but it was overpowering.

Worship ended in speaking together the Lord's Prayer. Something about so many clergy workers in one room, with one prayer, is amazing! I left feeling rejuvenated and ready to take on the world.

After worship all NW District workers were invited for an evening of fellowship. I got to meet so many pastors both within Alaska and outside, and also got to continue conversing with some DCE's I met earlier as they gave me words of wisdom and encouragement. All in all it was an extremely good second day at the NW District All workers conference. I can't wait for tomorrow.

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