In the summer, I had a completely different social group than I had in school. The older lifeguards, my neighbors who were in different grades or attended different schools. Under the summer sun and drenched in chlorine the usual barriers dissipated, which is rather like what happens at the PNEUMA Conference (minus the chlorine).
PNEUMA’s roots are in the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), however it has been functioning as an ecumenical partnership (with the United Church of Christ and the Episcopal Church) for decades, in the past known as the Western Christian Educators Conference. PNEUMA is several things, however three characteristics stand out.
First, it is ecumenical, involving folks from across mainline and independent churches. Second, it can be described as center-left, swimming attentively in the progressive end of the pool. And third, it is intentionally shaped by the concerns of Christian formation leaders in the Western USA. All of which can make it an excellent setting for continuing education, retreat, and refreshment for plenty of ministers across the church.
Last year PNEUMA began a what we intend to be a long term partnership with the Bishop’s Ranch, the retreat center for the Diocese of California. We are excited that when we return to the Russian River Valley in 2016, we will be bringing special guest Bruce Reyes-Chow, former PCUSA moderator, and an expert on that fluid matrix of families, social media, race and the Church. The theme for 2016 is Holy Communication: Sacred Links in the Digital Age and we are shaping our conference to dive into these issues that are critical for education, formation and nurture in the body of Christ today.
“A crucial role of the church in the world today is not to retreat into self-survival and pretend that changes are not happening. Instead, we must speak out into a world of change, chaos, and reaction in order to be a presence of transformation, peace, and discernment.”
Bruce Reyes-Chow, Social Media in the Church
The regions and denominations that define most of our work in Christ’s mission are much like the divisions of grades and schools. They balance historical values and logistical realities, however when summer comes and we gather by the water, we discover we are all in the same pool of changes and challenges.
PNEUMA 2016 gathers at the Bishop’s Ranch October 17-20. As friends of all orders and statuses and home churches, PNEUMA seeks to jump into that pool where we can transform our self-survival into a celebration of living water. We invite you to breathe deeply and dive in!
To learn more about the PNEUMA Conference visit www.pneumaconference.com