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It all started with a conversation at Olive Garden. . .and now two years later

Two years ago, after Western Seminary’s Heart Talk Writers Conference, I met with Bev Hislop, whose women’s center department at Western Seminary has sponsored the every other year writers conference Heart Talk for the past several years. I met Bev while volunteering for the 2009 event.

Bev wanted to talk to me about the conference and whether they should continue it anymore. They did not want to sponsor Heart Talk for Writers  just because “we always have,” which I so admire about Bev. She is not afraid of change. She said they did not want to be another writers event that looked like Oregon Christian Writers Conferences. Oregon Christian Writers does a fine job.

So, over soup and salad at Olive Garden at Mall 205 in Portland, Bev and I spoke about the Western  event. 

I was new to the whole “Christian” writers conference scene. In my past, I had been involved with Willamette Writers and Oregon Writers Colony, where I have led workshops on a variety of writing topics. I had also taught writing at Portland State University, among other venues. But, I felt a new tugging on my heart to take my writing and teaching to the church and spiritual setting as well. I taught a semester at George Fox University and got involved with Oregon Christian Writers, where I led a workshop in 2009. That is where I got connected with Western’s Heart Talk  Writers Conference, volunteering to help. And where I met Bev. We set up a time to meet a few months later.

When Bev asked me what I thought about the Western event, I told her I really enjoyed it, and that they had such roots with their every other year event. I did think there was room for another “faith” Writers Conference, but what about making it different than Oregon Christian Writers Conference. My heart has been to bring writers of faith, who were impacting culture, together for a day of inspiration and encouragement. And not just “Christian” writers but writers of faith who were impacting the world with their words. My vision for my writing is to make a difference in the world. With Words.

Bev and I met again, several times, and continued dreaming and brainstorming. I had begun a writers connection ministry at Rolling Hills Community Church which I called, Faith And Culture Writers Connection, sometimes shortened to Writers Connection, with the idea of inspiring people to consider how their faith impact culture through their writing.

Faith & Culture. Sounded great together. And, then the question. Would I consider leading the conference for 2011? I prayed about it and really felt God’s leading. God led me to the 2009 Heart Talk writers event at Western, God led me to meet Bev Hislop and yes, I believe, God led me to this moment.

I knew it was/is much bigger than I am and so I knew there was no other place to go but to God. And that is a good place to be!

God brought together an amazing leadership team, others who are just as passionate about what we are calling, Portland’s First Faith & Culture Writers Conference — Taking our writing to the streets, the coffee shops, and yes, the church. And, God has brought 20 workshop leaders to share their talent with attendees. Workshop leaders who are theologians, professors, international speakers, international award winners, activist authors, screenwriters, and pastors. People impacting culture through the power of words.

My husband came up with the sub heading- “Taking your writing to the streets, the coffee shops…” He said, that is what you are doing, getting out of your boxes and into the world with your words.

Speaking of WORDS. We asked Martin French to come up with our artwork for our event. I shared with him the vision for the event and a week later, he sent us the prototype of this amazing logo, WORDS. Simple. Beautiful. Impactful.

Just what we hope and pray our event will be.

Posted in Author/Speaking Events, Authors, Faith & Culture Writers Conference.


3 Responses

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  1. Cornelia Seigneur says

    Joan, I love that truth about how writing starts with a conversation and it was great to have you on the leadership team…

    Maru, you are always so encouraging! – (and so wonderful to have you at the conference as a volunteer-your friendly warm face greeting people!)

  2. pongboy says

    “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work… the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think… So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” ~Isaiah 55:8-11 (MSG)

    He’s speaking to YOU! He’s expanding your boundaries! You GO girl! :D

  3. Joan Callander says

    What I love about writing is it always starts with a conversation–even if it’s just in our own mind. That you and Bev took the time to engage twenty conference presenters, who aren’t just writers, but are people out mixing it up every day with college students, Muslims, Evangelical and Native American elders, AND TOP BOOK PUBLISHERS as well as the rest of us–God’s kids. How cool is that? Can’t wait.



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