Gathering 2015 - How We'll Plan.
Over the years, our EP Summer Gatherings have been ably planned by many different people, but more often than not, the planning has been executed by a planning team of as many as six or eight people. This year a different process is being piloted in an effort to accomplish two very different goals. The first is to streamline the process a bit, particularly in the early stages, in order to be a little more efficient with people's time. (As you might imagine, having a conference
call every week with seven or eight people can sometimes be less than fully efficient.) But the second goal is to actually broaden the number of people whose wisdom is solicited during the planning process.
Toward those ends, Jenny Williams and Phil Kenneson have spearheaded the planning process for next summer's Gathering. One of the first things they did was to send out an electronic survey not only to everyone who had attended an EP Summer Gathering over the past five years, but also to several other people whose wisdom they coveted. This survey solicited input on several issues regarding next summer's Gathering, from the most important questions that should be at the center of our time together, to identifying congregations and individuals from whom we would be wise to learn. Jenny and Phil were delighted to receive about 60 surveys back and were overwhelmed by the thoughtful responses that were submitted. A group of seven people then received all of those surveys and were asked to discern together (over a 90-minute conference call) what common themes and important issues surfaced.
The findings of that discernment process were recently reviewed by the board on another conference call. Jenny and Phil will now be convening another call in the next week with a group of eight people to make some preliminary decisions about the shape and content of the plenary sessions. In the weeks and months to come, Jenny and Phil will be drawing even more people into the planning process with the hope that by the time we meet together next summer, many, many people will have had a hand in making the Gathering what it is.
We are excited about the potential of this new process, not least because it has already surfaced a great deal of wisdom and many helpful suggestions. Although there is no way that every good idea and suggestion can be implemented over our brief 48 hours together next summer, we firmly believe that our Gathering next summer will reflect the best of EP, which is a wide network of deep friendship and a shared passion for the church and faithful discipleship and formation.