October 2014
Ekklesia Project News


In This Issue


Gathering 2015:


What we'll discuss


How we'll plan


How you can help


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Plenary Session, Gathering 2014

Gathering 2015 - What we'll discuss. 


How do congregations form young people as disciples of Jesus Christ well?  This is one of the driving questions in developing the 2015 Gathering of the Ekklesia Project.  Responses to surveys recently distributed to attendees of past Gatherings indicate that there is great passion around this facet of our life together as the body of Christ.  


The 2015 Gathering will attempt to address questions like "What else (or who else) in our culture is forming our young people? How do we understand these other actors theologically? How do we engage these other voices and forces congregationally?" and "How can the work of forming young disciples be an intergenerational endeavor, undertaken by the whole congregation?" We will hear from congregations who are doing the formation of young people well, and we will hear from young people who will tell us where they are in life and what their experience of discipleship formation has been.  


EPers are encouraged to bring those in your congregation who work with young people, as we strive to make the 2015 Gathering as engaging and accessible as possible. (Consider inviting those folks now, as the summer tends to be a busy time for church youth activities and families with children!)  Planning Team Co-Chairs Phil Kenneson and Jenny Williams welcome your questions about the Gathering. 

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.

Gathering 2015 - How you can help. 

Each year, we invite additional contributions to make the Gathering affordable for persons with limited finances. The response is usually generous, providing assistance to anywhere from 10 to 25% of Gathering attendees. As you've read above, this year we plan to include in our programming youth from congregations with innovative or exemplary practices of faith formation. We are not imagining a 'Youth Academy' or summer camp on EP steroids. But we are imagining that we need to hear from older youth (late teens or early 20s) about the formational processes and pressures in which they live, move, and have their being.

Because we want and need youth to gather with us, and because youth don't typically have disposable income, we'll have to assist them financially. So we ask you now to consider giving, or budgeting to give, a contribution to help include youth in Gathering 2015. You can use any of our normal contribution channels to do so.