(Art on WORDS banner: www.martinfrench.com)
(The wonderful leadership planning team who helped make the 2013 Faith & Culture Writers Conference happen: l-r: Ana Brors, Ashley Larkins, Kari Patterson, me, Bethany Jackson)
I am just coming off of the 2013 Faith & Culture Writers Conference Faith & Culture Writers Connection
Buzz! Such a whirlwind, such a wonderful time of connection, energy, fellowship, and camaraderie. People who attended came up to me during and after the conference and thank us for the great weekend. I heard, “best conference ever,” “such depth in the speakers’ topics,” “great variety of sessions and speakers,” “I am so inspired,” and “I know God wanted me here,” and “Thank you.”
(Photos above and right: Brent Looyenga)
I reflect on the topics of discussion just during the large group sessions. Ken Wytsma sharing about the importance of literature in society as it gives us empathy for others. Phil Long asking in his spoken word poetry, “What if it’s all poetry?” and William Paul Young reminding us to just write and not try to make a profit, but to trust the gift. Paul Louis Metzger sharing that we should keep our writing real and vulnerable and Brian Doyle’s passionate heart-felt talk about three things: story, story, story. “Be story catchers,” he said. And Dan Merchant inspired us with his words about being authentic and to set high standards for our work. Soaking in all of these words over the weekend was awesome.
From the great talks and sessions to just looking around at everyone mingling and talking and sharing conversations, it was all so much fun. I use the word “buzz,” as that is what it felt like. The connection everyone was making did my heart good!
I go back to sharing a huge thank you to the wonderful Leadership Planning Team who God brought forward to help bring last weekend’s conference to Multnomah. I am so grateful for these women – Bethany Jackson, our executive administrative assistant who truly is a servant-she has a gift and is a gift; Kari Patterson, who was our communications coordinator and MC; Ashley, our networking coordinator who put together the schedule of literary agent and mentoring appointments; and Ana Brors, who designed our FAITH & CULTURE WRITERS CONNECTION website and directed with social media. I am so thankful for each of these ladies who caught the vision for the Faith & Culture Writers Conference and served alongside me!
So many people came together to make the day happen. Brent Looygenga and Aaron Esparze photographed for us. Hilda set up our bookstore and Joan Callendar ran the store for her. Martin French designed our logo WORDS, all the volunteers who were room monitors and greeters. Ediger Sound who recorded sessions for us.
To see so many folks gathered together, networking, connecting, fellowshipping was such a joy for me.
We had a Speaker Dinner beforehand on Friday night that was a lot of fun. William Paul Young came to that which was awesome. (Still waiting for the official photo from Brent for this.) I am grateful for each of the 25 speakers, who were theologians, professors, fiction authors, non-fiction authors, editors, literary agents, movement starters, activists, bloggers, and musicians, who gave of their time and heart to be here. I tried to be sure everyone was photographed! It was really wonderful after our event to gather together people for a wrap up and giveaway.
Authors had donated books and Christianity Today offered gift subscriptions for our drawing. As I said our final good-byes to everyone gathered in the Student Lounge there at Multnomah, I got teary eyed. I was not expecting that. And, then my wonderful leadership planning team surprised me with flowers and a card. So humbled. So grateful And I truly give it all to God. This was His event. It is a creative God we serve. And, to Him we dedicate the gift, the calling.