I have just finished a 72 hour marathon with a ton of friends. We weren’t running but we weren’t doing nothing either. We were “conferring together” as an association of churches from across Canada. About 60 different congregations sent delegates or representatives in order for their interests to be represented and their voice to be included in the discussions of the day.

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The bulk of evaluations are back and people are using words like “best ever”, “outstanding”, “worth the trip”, ” wished it could have been longer”.   I wasn’t surprised by their comments because it was evident during the days that people were enjoying the time, entering into the events, and simply engaging on deep levels in conversations and situations.  Very satisfying.  You can never go wrong when you bring people together and facilitate an enjoyable time for them.

In my opinion though, the enjoyment goes much deeper than just the enjoyment had.  The theme of the gathering was “God’s Work Amongst the Nations in Canada”.  We considered the vast cultural diversity operational in Canada today.  Though most evident in our urban centres, all of Canada knows what it means to embrace many cultures in the mosaic called Canada.  It was pictured most clearly for us when in one evening session we invited people to teach us how to say “thank you” in their birth language and out of 200 people gathered, 18 different language speakers stood to offer their tutorial.   We conducted a ton of workshops around the theme of diversity in culture recognizing that culture enfolds—country of origin, language, values and morals, family patterns, food(!), politics, economics, age, schooling and attitudes.  It got complicated.

And even deeper than that conversation is the conversation, “how shall we live as God’s children, different yet together?”.

The three days together gave a taste of how it could work, but as one presenter put it, this is great for 3 days but it’s tough to live it out for the other 362 days of the year.  He’s got a point.

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