Yeah, I sound like a broken record, but like any convert I want to encourage anyone who reads this blog, follows me on Facebook or Twitter, or who simply lands here by accident, to think about attending the Upper Room’s Soulfeast Conference at Lake Junaluska. No, it’s not as hip as the Wild Goose Festival, but on the flip side you don’t have to camp out, and the pace is slow and leisurely – something we all need. So, here are 8 reasons that I will be there:
- Trevor Hudson
Yes, I worship Jesus Christ, but Trevor Hudson has never failed in pointing me back to him. Trevor is a pastor/writer/spiritual guru from South Africa that has become a regular part of this event, and who approaches faith at a deep level, but also at a practical level. It says a great deal that my 16 and 11 year olds who have seen him several times get excited every time they hear he’s going to speak.
- The Pace at The Lake
I confess that I wasn’t always a Lake Junaluska fan. I tended to see it as a haven for retired Methodists entrenched in Southeastern Methodism. And honestly, there is some truth to that depiction. However what I have come to love is a slow and relaxed pace that seems to permeate the place – a pace that lends itself to connecting to God. There are plenty of places where one can sit quietly and contemplate the meaning of life – and Lord knows I need some of that contemplative time.
- Enuma Okoro
I have yet to meet or hear Enuma Okoro yet, but I feel like I somehow know her. What I do know is that she was a major contributor to the “Common Prayer” prayer book that I have been using quite a bit lately, and everything I read and hear suggests to me that this is a deeply spiritual woman who has much to teach me about God.
- The Youth Program
One reason that this event has become so important to our family has been the influence of the youth program, led for the past few years by Lanecia Rouse, on my daughter Grace. From the first day that she was eligible to participate, Grace has taken to this program, finding community of peers that has helped her grow into the cook person that she is today. Make no mistake – this is no entertainment focused program. No, this is a place for kids to think seriously about God – even when they aren’t that sure they believe in God. At one point I wasn’t sure that we would be able to attend this year, and Grace very quickly told me that she was coming even if the rest of the family couldn’t attend. “Yes dear . . . I’ll work it out…”
- Juanita and Rudy Rasmus
I don’t know if I will be able to attend their workshop, but any time I can get face time with these great saints of God, I take advantage of it. They are coming to lead a workshop, but also to simply enjoy the feast of opportunities at Soulfeast. It will be good to see them.
- Creative Worship
I should fully disclose that for the past two years I have had a large part in designing the worship for this event, and that this year I am still providing some technical support, but I have to say that the worship at Soulfeast as been as creative as any I’ve experienced. Part of that has been a willingness by the worship team to involve all the senses, spending many hours in creating visual worship settings that are a feast for the eyes, spending time thinking about the theme of the service, and developing a variety of means for making that worship come alive. Very frankly, there is almost an experimental feel to some of the services. Sometimes this leads to amazing heights, while sometimes things don’t work the way we hoped. But in every case, the planners and designers are willing to take a chance in doing something new to help all of us connect to God in new ways.
- A Family Based Event
Of course our teen is not the only person to enjoy Soulfeast. Our now middle schooler has been a part of the Kid’s program for several years, and has always enjoyed it. This program is not simply babysitting, but an attempt to help kids develop and grow in their own faith. However, what it most important about Soulfeast as a whole is that it is specifically designed to include the WHOLE family, building up their faith in significant ways. The event is structured to provide time for all ages to be fed according to their level of development, but also to have time together, as family, enjoying one another and God’s creation. In all honesty, I have experienced very few events that are as rooted in the family as Soulfeast, and I think modern American families could greatly benefit from participating in something like this. Do what we do – rent a cabin, come stay the week, and simply enjoy one another.
- Karla Kincannon
IF you have any artistic inclinations, and IF you have any interest in the visual aspects of worship, you HAVE to meet Karla, and attend her workshop. Karla’s become a good friend through our years of working on worship together, and I am regularly awed by her sense of design and her understanding of beauty.
I’m sure that I could identify many other reasons for going to Soulfeast, but I don’t have any more time to write. I hope you will consider coming, so that we can find some time to sit on the porch of the Terrace Hotel, look at the Lake, and talk about where God is leading us.
By the way, if some are coming that want to talk about the future of the UMC, our missional calling, etc. I would be happy to lead an informal conversation one afternoon. Let me know if you are coming.