Granted, these "reports" are only going to reflect what I've experienced at the conference meeting. Yesterday there were two sessions where we had about 15 options for workshops. Here's where I went:
First I was deep down in the basement of Frick Hall in a place called the Blue Jay's Roost. I'm sure the students at Elmhurst appreciate the comedy of having a roost in a dungeon. It's a cozy, inviting place with lots of little tables, pool, foosball, a huge TV and some comfy couches. I had a great time as we heard Bryan Sirchio play music, lead us in games and discussion and invite us to ponder the question, "What would love do?" at his session called "The Ultimate Adventure: Serving God Outside the Comfort Zone." He said that when we seek to do what love would do, God can never be far away. Bryan also started to teach us a song about love. We might even help lead it tomorrow (OK -- that would be tonight) at the youth-themed worship service.
Second I got to meet Jeff Harmon, youth minister at Plainfield Congregational United Church of Christ. Jeff has some amazing gifts for using technology in a presentation. The workshop, "Can you hear me now?" used technology (powerpoint, DVD, video projection) to invite us to consider "Why do you do what you do?" and to move us into a direction of letting God's call be out motivation.
Our evening worship service offered some wonderful handbell music from the handbell ringers from Union Church in Hinsdale as well as a moving sermon from Rev. Linda Jaramillo: Executive Minister of the UCC's Justice and Witness Ministries . She spoke of offering God's extravagant welcome even to (I think she might have also meant especially to) people who don't like us (and who we don't like) and to people who disagree with us.
After a short business meeting and a short "This really isn't a luau -- but here are some fun songs for us to sing" time down in the Roost (I love saying that) I think I got home at 11:30 pm. I'm planning on being back for Day 2 just after 7 am.
A long day - but an excellent one.