After a short sabbath from the good (but exhausting) activity of last week’s Flourish Conference, we’re ready to re-surface and take a look at what emerged from these three days of worship, conversation, and inspiration:
- Well, just that: worship, conversation, and inspiration! In addition to great music worship sessions led by the Chris Orr band and Ashley Welborn, nearly every presentation led conference attendees toward a spirit of awe and admiration for God in light of his creation and what he is doing in it. Many speakers emphasized that the earth is the Lord’s and that taking care of it is not just an act of service to the land and those who rely on it, but an act of worship of the One who created it. The conference’s intimate size and setting also allowed for easy conversation. Speakers, writers, publishers, scientists, non-profit directors, researchers, professors, pastors, architects, students, and church lay people were all able to not only talk with each other, but to learn from one another. Sure, there were official speakers, but the unofficial teaching and learning that occurred encouraged everyone. Along with that encouragement came true inspiration. Being told of the the pollution generated by coal-powered electricity may offer us some temporary motivation for turning the lights off more often, but being encouraged by Andy Crouch to be more fully human by taking up our responsibility to cultivate creation offers true inspiration for change. So does having pastor Tri Robinson honestly reveal the terror he felt upon preaching his first creation care sermon–a sermon that then received a standing ovation from his church. Or learning from Chris Seay just what reduced consumption and increased generosity can do for well-drilling projects in parched regions. Or hearing Rev. James Merritt boldly give his first sermon on creation care–and a wonderful sermon, at that. Now that’s inspirational!
- Reconciliation. Barrett Duke, of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, started the conference’s final day with a prayer that he prefaced by explaining that while he is a climate change skeptic, he knows that what unites all of God’s children is a reverence and responsibility for our Father’s world. Similar sentiments reverberated throughout Cross Pointe Church over the conference’s three days: folks willingly listening and respectfully engaging one anothers’ differing opinions on environmental concerns; people finding common ground from which to address those concerns; and individuals from different geographical, political, denominational, and sociological backgrounds joining to worship their Creator.
- Connection. Conference attendees and speakers were able to discover shared passions, goals, and opportunities, and to make connections that will enhance ministries and enrich lives. In particular, we witnessed a lof of awe and excitement over two ministries in the conference exhibit hall: Floresta and Land of A Thousand Hills Coffee. When conference attendees realized that drinking coffee could empower Rwandan farmers and heal their land, or that donating a dollar to plant a tree could help restore entire communities to economic and ecological wholeness, they found concrete ways to connect their families’ and congregations’ desire to do good with their love for God, his people, and his planet. We heard it over and over: “I began to connect the dots.”
At Flourish, the creation care conversation was elevated to a new level. But don’t take our word for it. Check out these articles:
… from the Associated Baptist Press
… from the Knoxville News Sentinel
Or, visit the blogs of some folks who were there: