"We Are in a Deep Shift . . . ."

by Tara Gibbs on October 29, 2023

"We are in deep shift...."

This punny opening line from our keynote, Rev. Dr. Casey Sigmon, really captures the spirit of the entire F21 weekend. In her presentation entitled, Engaging the Gadfly, she reminded us that the Holy Spirit is still moving, buzzing, nudging us to move forward. Her presentation compared theology after Gutenberg to theology after Google, and all that shift entails, including a new framework and idea networks.

Rev. K. Monet Rice-Jalloh who called us to "Build a Highway for God," noted that the same Holy Spirit shift had initiated revamping of the faith every 500 years and that we are due for a great emergence. Listeners to the sermon had to wrestle with the idea of building and moving forward as pioneers in this digital age. Even our teens made clear that we are in an age where a majority of their day is engaged with technology; from their own cellphones, to the chromebooks required for school, they use technology daily and notice that the church is no different.

Where do we go from here was the catalyst question for rich conversation with our 30th Anniversary Panelists who not only reminded us of how far this conference has come, but how much more we can do in this space. Rev. Chrissy Williamson shared that in her time, we invited our first scholars of color and liberation scholars. "During my time, we also started exploring digital media. We did the podcast for the first time, which became a great marketing tool, it gave people a free way to listen to the scholar...it was a good entry point."

Panelists and attendees chuckled as Rev. Mia McClain shared that she was responsible for the name change. From laughter to provocative thought, our presenters truly kept us engaged as we talked about this digital age. Carol Reid Fricke remarked,

"Every presenter was truly energetic and inspiring!"

These words clearly describe our guest workshop presenter, Rev. Kristian A. Smith who led "From On Fire to Online," and provided practical steps for faith spaces to engage online participation. Rev. Dr. JJ Flag reported that his workshop should be required watching; people need to understand that the online space doesn't have to hinder the in-person experience but enhances it." This enhancing was evident as folks engaged with members, guests, and friends both on zoom and in person this weekend.

In short, we are thankful for all of the tireless efforts of our staff, volunteers, and Spiritual Growth ministry for leading us to dream of the future church. You can watch any or all the F21 Weekend segments anytime by purchasing the access link for only $15.

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Tags: f21, faith in the 21st century

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