As the Cohorts Return from Kanuga
It was a brief but incredibly rich time together this weekend at the Kanuga Conference Center in Hendersonville. Members of three Carolina cohorts descended on the “American Christianity: Reinvitening Itself” conference put on by the Institute for Servant Leadership (ISL). We are so grateful to Rev. Dr. Fred Burnham for his invitation for us to come and participate in two panel discussions, and we are grateful for all of the new friends we’ve made in ISL and the Episcopal Church.
Doug Pagitt posted this camerphone picture (below) of our Saturday night panel. From left to right in the picture we had Rich Nicoloff (The Well, ELCA church, Pineville, NC), Bobby Scott (“Southern-fried Southern Baptist” from Columbia, SC), Catherine Sullivan (St. Nektarios Orthodox Church, Charlotte), Magenta Freeman (Unaffiliated, Charlotte), me (Warehouse 242, Charlotte), Jonathan Scruggs (Assemblies of God, Gastonia, NC), Tripp Fuller (Greensboro Emergent Cohort), and Dennis Teall-Fleming (Queen of the Apostles Catholic Church, Belmont, NC).
Some random thoughts about this weekend:
Anthony Smith rolled into Kanuga around 11:30 p.m. Saturday night so he could participate in the Sunday morning panel, and Jonathan and Dennis hung out talking with our “Kanuga Cohort” until 1 a.m. Sunday morning before heading back to Charlotte.
The “Kanuga Cohort” included several conference participants and Doug Pagitt. Doug took the opportunity to bounce a couple of the national Emergent Village agenda items off of everyone. We also talked a lot about the issues facing the Episcopal Church.
It was fun to meet Tripp’s wife, Alecia, and I’m grateful to her for watching my boys (Hayden, 3, and Elliot, 11 months) during the panels so I could participate.
I didn’t get to hear Phyllis Tickle speak (I’m told it was, in the words of Doug Pagitt, “freaking brilliant” and I’ll have to get a copy of the DVD), but I did have the pleasure of meeting her and her husband, Sam. I found out that they were involved in getting Peter Rollins book How (Not) to Speak of God published, which is just a classic. I had a nice chat with Sam over breakfast and then a nice chat with Phyllis over lunch. I got a picture of Hayden with the Tickles (see below). Right now, he’s oblivious to the significance of it, but years from now it’ll mean something special to him, I’m sure. Phyllis held Elliot for about five seconds, but he was being really squirmy so I snatched him away from her. Amazing people. Thank God for the Tickles!
I didn’t get to hear him speak, but I shook Michael Battle’s hand. I look forward to reading more from his website.
It was very good to hear from Sara Miles and receive the Eucharist from her, along with the others at the conference (including Hayden).
Everyone was so warm, welcoming, and receptive to what we were able to share during the panel discussions (and to my two boys!). The friendship aspect of the emerging church conversation became very evident as we spoke together. As Tripp shared, “the sacredness of other voices” is definitely a highly valued thing among us. I was blown away by the unity we felt in the Spirit just being together, along with these new friends that I hope we will continue to develop mutually encouraging relationships with.
On top of all that, it was a gorgeous weekend on a beautiful lake in the mountains of western North Carolina. Kanuga is just a stunning place, and I hope I get a chance to go back sometime with my whole family.
Thank you, God, for that experience.
Hayden Helps Set Up for the Service