It’s hard to even know where to begin writing about my UnConference experience, but for me, it’s important to write about it. If you’re not interested at all, it doesn’t hurt my feelings if you do not read about it.
I’ve shared that I am fascinated by the whole process of UnConference (that link is to the Wiki–it’s a thing that’s happening more and more in organizations/conferences). This particular UnConference (UnCo11) did not disappoint!
First the fees: we all simply paid for our room and board at Stony Point Center in Stony Point, NY. It was rather inexpensive for two nights and six meals.
Second the planning: Several fantastic people led us and did some planning ahead of time. Christopher Harris (@revrevwine), Carol Howard Merritt (@CarolHoward), Brian Merritt (@BrianMerritt) and Ryan Kemp-Pappan did some big thinking ahead of time. Meredith Kemp-Pappan (@mightymere) did some worship planning ahead of time (and some of it happened two hours before UnConferencing began) and Megan Dosher (@megateer) did some planning for Kid UnCo. And, of course, I know there were others who did some thinking and planning about specifics ahead of time. Otherwise, the planning for UnConference happened at UnConference.
Third the advertising: This happened mostly online. 78 people, adults and children, participated.
Fourth the theme: Unicorns. I have no idea how that happened, but it happened awesomely.
Everyone arrived at Stony Point (by plane, train and automobile–with many joking about the Unco11 Travel Curse) on Sunday and Monday.
The worship team (all people who volunteered to lead worship) met at 3:00 on Monday afternoon and planned Monday night’s worship. The idea was that each participant was bringing their unique gifts, instruments and resources and they created the worship service right there.
Then everyone met in the auditorium at 5:30 for instructions, updates, and assurances that at the end of UnCo11, we would be able to justify this as a Continuing Education event (despite the picture of Jesus riding a unicorn that appeared on the UnCo11 site currently).
After dinner, we gathered for worship. It was a beautiful, honest and holy experience.
After worship, the UnConferencing began. People suggested topics for discussion, along with a time and a room. Those topics were entered on the large chart on the wall. “Nerds and the Church!” “The New Horizon’s Study on Beattitudes (the study author, Margaret Aymer (@mayog), was with us–it would have been a missed opportunity to not discuss it with her)!” “Lay Ministry!” “Children in Worship!” “Addiction and Grace!” (you can see the whole list here.)
And then it happened: free time, meals, sleep, morning prayer, break out sessions, Kid Unco, the silent auction to raise money for three ministries, official conversations in conference rooms and unofficial conversations anywhere, Prayer Stations, Quaker Worship in the Meditation Space, communion, the tweet stream of #unco11 projected on a big screen, rain and a little bit of sunshine.
On Sunday morning, we chose six emphases that would “get legs” and be things that the community would continue to work on–online Presbyterian Women groups, a blog/site being created to share ideas about intergenerational ministry in local churches, an UnCo social justice emphasis on clean water (#h2o4all) and others that I just haven’t heard about yet (a report is coming soon–that will also help justify spending my Continuing Education money!).
I know I plan to write about my experiences with Kid Unco and Children In Worship. At some point, I’d like to reflect on the Quaker Waiting Service I attended. It’s possible I’ll write about the things I’m discerning about my own vocation and call–but not right away. I’m still piecing that together and it’s still a little fresh and needs some time to settle and a chance for me to bounce it off some trusted friends.
It’s Friday. I got home last night, slept for 9 hours, have consumed much coffee and have plans for the day that include running, lifting weights, working on some stuff for Sunday, reading and catching up on news, email and with my friends/loved ones.