Hospitality for a Conference on the Move: PNEUMA 2017

Last Monday was the first day of the PNEUMA conference, and it was also the day the fires started. The Bishop’s Ranch was scheduled to host a 4-day ecumenical gathering of Christian educators. With many text, emails, and conference calls throughout Monday, the Bishop’s Ranch made it clear that coming north was not a safe option and so the committee reconstructed the conference in a new shape. The Rev. Matthew Woodward of Transfiguration, San Mateo offered his church as a meeting space for those arriving in town who needed a place to go. In an amazing display of generosity, the people of his parish opened their homes to those needing a place to sleep that night. Housing was found at a Jesuit Retreat Center in Los Altos for the rest of the conference for those not local, and meals were arranged one day at a time. On Thursday, Grace Cathedral welcomed the conference for our last keynote, closing Eucharist and lunch.

The conference was not what had been planned, but it was certainly blessed by God. Our keynoter, the Rev. Dr. Leanne Hadley from Kentucky made it to the Bishop’s Ranch Sunday evening and had to get back down to San Mateo. She arrived Monday evening and stepped right into the keynote role, setting up an amazing 4-day exploration of the spirituality of children (and adults) and how to arrange times and spaces for transformational experiences with God. Eric Choate, the Director of Music at St. Mary the Virgin, San Francisco set the tone for retreat with gathering and centering music that provided a calming presence when folks were stressed. Our workshop presenters gave a diverse group of presentations and resources. The committee is already planning to return to the Bishop’s Ranch next year.