Widening the Welcome 2 -- 4

And then the conference was over.

With a rousing . . . contemplative . . . and moving worship service, we ended the 2nd national conference of the Widening the Welcome movement in the United Church of Christ.

Some highlights -- from today and overall.

Leading music at this powerful event has been a thrill.  I have enjoyed, immensely, encouraging, leading, sharing, and teaching the music of Widening the Welcome.  There have been so many gracious and kind folk here and your kind words have warmed my heart.  If you're in need of someone to come and help lead music at an event you're holding -- please get in contact!
Here's the list of the songs we've shared at this conference
  • I am Welcome - Bryan Sirchio
  • Precious Lord, Take My Hand - Thomas A Dorsey
  • Draw the Circle Wide - Gordon Light
  • God of the Sparrow, God of the Whale - Jaroslav J. Vajda
  • Where Justice Rolls Down - Rick Carlson, Michael Pearce Donley, and Bob Stromberg
  • Lord, Listen to your Children Praying - Ken Medema
  • The Neighborhood Song  - Mister Rogers
  • Oh Clap Your Hands - Bob Stromberg
  • Amazing Grace - John Newton
  • God of the Water and Land  - Sara Kay
  • More Light - Christopher Grundy
  • Born This Way - Lady Gaga
  • Kum Ba Yah
  • Jesus Loves Me
  • A Prayer - Bill Green
  • Buffalo Boy
  • I'm Gonna Live So God Can Use Me
  • The Household of God - John Evans-Klock and Peter Sykes
  • Standing in the Need of Prayer (It's Me, Oh Lord)
  • Offering (I Will)  Andra Moran and Ben Harper
  • One Spirit of Love - Paul B. Svenson
  • Deep and Wide
  • You Can Smile
  • Come to the Feast - Christopher Grundy

The presentations by Tom Reynolds continue to keep me thinking, wrestling, considering, pondering, and percolating.  As an advocate of inclusion and welcome that does not have any evidence of a system of power (who is welcoming?  Who is including?) Tom is, I think, helping the Widening the Welcome movement grow from one of widening to one of widening the welcome and deepening relationships. He's also a wicked-good piano player.

The presence and support of the national ministries of the United Church of Christ.  The UCC Mental Illness Network and UCC Disabilities Ministries, with support Local Church Ministries and Justice and Witness Ministry are sponsors and supporters of this movement.  And the presence and participation of many from the national offices have shown how important this movement is.  Ben Guess, Executive Minister for Local Church Ministries, summed it up well in his closing keynote address.  "We need this in the United Church of Christ!"

Education, encouragement, and  challenge - I loved the workshops I attended.  I heard great things about the ones I missed while I was attending others.  The leaders of the workshops brought with them excellent skills, encouraging stories, and great resources.  You can order CD (workshops) and DVD (keynotes) recordings right now at the Florian Audio Visual Site.

Friendships.  I reconnected with several friends and appreciate the conversations, encouragement, and simple presence.  I also made new friends and I'm encouraged that our relationships will grow.

Kind words and comments.
Listen to some of these -- "I learned so much! I really didn't know much and everyone was so welcoming!"  "There is so much to share - from theology of disability to sharing or story on a heart level." "The music was great - it made things real." "I'm still chewing on this. Several talks inspire me to want to have further conversations." and "This spirit needs to get taken to, invited in, and implemented in every congregation!"

What's next?  The planning team is getting together to work on that. In the meantime -- keep widening the welcome -- and deepening relationships!

PS -- here's a list of conference quotes I posted today --
"Access to all, for all, by all -- I don't know what acronym fits that!" Tom Reynolds
"Vulnerability is not a flaw, but a fact. It is shared by us all." Tom Reynolds
"Full personhood is not diminished by disability nor confirmed by ability." Tom Reynolds
"There is in the end no hard & fast line between ability & disability- but rather a dynamic of reciprocity" Tom Reynolds
"A2A is an evangelism movement. It is a good news movement. Widening the welcome and deepening relationships." Ben Guess
"When we talk about widening the welcome we mean more than a Howdy - more than a pat on the back." Ben Guess
"We need this in the United Church of Christ" Ben Guess

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