The annual conference Power in the Spirit took place just last week on the campus of Roanoke College in Salem from July 14-16. Together attendees from across the state gathered to explore God’s call to service through joyous worship, Bible study, keynote addresses, workshops, and fellowship. This year’s theme-By God’s Grace: This is Most Certainly True dwelled in the mysteries of God’s grace, guided by powerful insights of Martin Luther’s Small Catechism.
Keynote Speaker, Musician, and Bible Leader Presented messages of Grace
Dr. Kit Kleinhans, a Luther expert from Wartburg College; the Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick, an Episcopal Bishop; and Jonathan Rundman, a talented musician and worship leader all joined in Power in the Spirit, guiding participants as they experienced the certain truth of God’s grace.
Kit Kleinhans in her keynote speech focused on Luther’s explanation of the Ten commandments, and contextualizing what they mean for our lives today, “Living with the goal of helping others makes it much easier to keep the commandments.” Kleinhans said in her keynote address on Thursday.
Rt. Rev. Ted Gulick led the Power in the Spirit Bible study touching on grace, bondage and freedom. In one portion of his bible study he brought forward the healing of Jairus’ Daughter at Capernaum and shared the ideal that #GirlsLivesMatter. He also very powerfully connected the image of grace running to where the need is, and how police officers did just that in Dallas, Texas. Across his Bible study, Bishop Gulick connected what was studied to most recent events, and the pain our nation has faced these past few weeks.
A New Poohbah in Town
Elizabeth Smythe, following eleven years of outstanding service, will be stepping back from her position as Power in the Spirit Coordinator. Taking on this critical role is Rev. David Drebes, pastor at Prince of Peace in Basye, Virginia.
For Pastor Drebes this is a challenging but exciting new role for him to take on. In it he brings a new perspective on what Power in the Spirit can achieve, while still maintaining the heart and soul Elizabeth has cultivated in her eleven years as coordinator. As ‘Poohbah in Training’ Rev. Drebes oversaw one significant addition to the event this year, “This is the first year that we’re providing alternative activities during the keynote and bible study for children, so that’s a big change, but an exciting one for us.”
Sending off Elizabeth Smythe with high praises, attendees of Power in the Spirit wrote and collected thank you note for her. In addition Elizabeth was presented with a beautiful work of stained glass, as well as a donation to the Mike Smythe Scholarship.
The Virginia Synod wants to express it’s great thanks to Elizabeth for her many years of service in this role, and the great joy and laughter she brought forth while serving.
We would also like to warmly welcome Rev. David Drebes into this exciting position, and wish him the most success as he begins planning for next year’s Power in the Spirit!
Mission Project Micah’s Backpack: Feeding Our Children
The service project for this year’s Power in the Spirit was focused on supporting Micah’s Backpack at Roanoke College. The project, managed by the Chaplain’s Office at Roanoke College, aims to provide direct food assistance for children from low-income families.
Together attendees of Power in the Spirit worked to decorate backpacks for children, as well as to pack food into bags to later be delivered by Roanoke College students to schools in the Salem area. The backpacks were blessed by Rev. Harvey Atkinson during the Saturday closing worship.
New this year at Power in the Spirit was Kidz Zone workshop sessions that were designed specifically for families with kids and teens. This addition was full of faith and fun as young attendees learned about the gifts of Communion and Baptism, showed off their art talents by decorating backpacks for the service project, and participated in evening activities like movie night.
Concurrent Session Feature: Millennials and the Church
Workshops across Power in the Spirit provided wonderful conversation, and food for thought that will last far beyond the event. One standout session during the event was Millennials and the Church: Reaching Out to the Largest Generation, held by Rev. Canon Connor Gwin, Canon Missioner for Youth and Young Adults, Episcopal Diocese of Southwestern Virginia.
During this workshop millennials and older demographics met to bridge the divide that can exist between generations. Rev. Canon Gwin’s provided perspective on millennials and context for their difference in world view. The differences in age groups was most evident when looking at a timeline of major events falling between 1980-2016, showing how life events during this time period have shaped this new generations thinking and attitudes towards the world, and in turn the church.
The entire session encouraged an attitude of understanding when working with those younger and older than us, as we all try and live and learn in Christ as one.