Celebrating BEYOND // M-Note 3.3.2023

Earlier this week, The Gathering hosted our first BEYOND Conference. Nearly 250 pastors and leaders from 19 states and 5 denominations gathered at our McCausland site to connect, learn, collaborate, and envision a better future for the church. While the leaders are diverse, we hold in common a desire for the church to be passionate about Jesus and inclusive. A church that takes the Bible seriously, wants to share Christ with new people, as well as a church that is open to those traditionally turned away. The idea for this conference began as more and more people reached out and asked me, “Is there a church like The Gathering where I live?”
During The Gathering’s OPEN initiative, I shared a vision with our church about the way that we believe God is calling The Gathering to help influence, lead, and connect like-minded churches that embrace this passion for Christ and welcome all people. The BEYOND conference was the first major step in living into that vision. And the two days were incredible.
There was a palpable sense of hope, encouragement, and energy among the participants. People made comments like, “I finally found my people” and “this is what I have been looking for.” Watching everyone gather from all over the country to worship and learn at our church was one of the most significant moments of my ministry. And it was possible because of all of you. I want to especially thank all of you that volunteered to serve at the conference. Your work made a deep impression on those that attended. Additionally, thank you to all of you that give so generously so that The Gathering can take risks and lead in new ways. Those gifts impact people far beyond what you can see.
While I received so many notes and posts about the BEYOND Conference, I thought this one from one of our guest speakers summed it up so well. I wanted to share it with you:
I wanted to take a moment to thank you for allowing me to join you at the Conference. I was overwhelmed by the experience.

In the conversations leading up to the event, it was easy to understand the perceived need for hope within the UMC at this moment in its history, but it took being at the event to fully comprehend the wisdom behind the idea of Beyond. I am grateful to say, from my vantage point, you accomplished your goal.

Over the last 3 days, I was fortunate to be able to talk to dozens and dozens of attenders, and most of them mentioned (in one way or another) how hopeful and/or healing these days had been for them… often naming a specific moment, conversation, or line that had deeply impacted them. I hope that you felt the intense joy and growing peace that was palpable in the worship space.

From top to bottom, everything was so well designed and managed. You have every reason to be proud of your team and volunteers. 

If I can ever be of help in any way, don’t hesitate to let me know. May you now get some much deserved rest!

Thank you to all of you that make The Gathering what it is. This weekend, I am starting a new series that will lead up to Easter called, “Who is Jesus?” I will let you guess what it is about! We will be studying who Jesus says he is in the Gospel of John and what that means for us. Don’t forget to check out The Gathering Lenten Devotional which will also have us reading John over the next 6 weeks. I can’t wait to see you all in church!
P.S. Easter is a huge celebration at The Gathering, and we want all of our sites to come together and worship as one church. We will be having one collective Easter service this year on April 9th at 10:30am at Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis. The doors will open at 9:45am with music, and the morning will be an inspiring one. Mark your calendars, tell your friends and family, and check out our website for more details.
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