Part 1 of 2
A blogpost by Crystal Goetz
Messy Church USA Regional Coordinator for Washington
I was a little scared when I arrived at High Leigh Centre in Hertfordshire on that overcast day in early May of 2019. I was traveling from London alone in a country that was not my own and I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into. I asked Executive Director of Messy Church USA, Roberta Egli about the Messy Church International Conference back at a September 2018 training event and from the moment she described it, I knew I had to go. I felt God nudge me and I recognized the gentle touch and still small voice and urgently felt I had to be a part of this community of people that were doing Messy Church around the world. Still as I stepped out of the cab in front of the conference center, I was asking myself, “What are you doing?” With much trepidation I paid the driver grabbed my suitcase and entered the conference center. And then…it happened!
Lucy Moore, founder of Messy Church and icon in my little office in Auburn Washington, ran to me as I entered the door and hugged me tight and said, “We are so glad you are here. Welcome!!!!!” It still makes me tear up to think about it. She didn’t know me before that moment, well not really. We had spoken briefly on a Regional Coordinator Zoom meeting, but she certainly didn’t know me by sight. To Lucy, I was a fellow Messy Church enthusiast and supporter. That’s all that mattered in that moment.
Through the eyes of a newcomer, I had so many preconceived notions about what I thought would happen at this conference, because I had been to church conferences before and was less than thrilled. However, this Messy Church conference was not like anything I had experienced before. Nor, was it something I could have ever dreamed was possible? When we came together for our first session, there was no awkwardness about singing or participating. Only joy and more than 200 people joining together in song, loudly and with vigor. Enthusiasm reigned supreme and we were transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit in that place.
The Spirit continued to take hold over the weekend through Lucy Moore’s warmth and leadership, Martyn Payne’s devotionals, Stephen Fischbacher’s wonderful music, Jane Leadbetter’s enthusiasm and ecobrick mastery, Claire Dalpra’s fascinating talk, Barry Brand’s hilarity, Andrew Roberts life-changing Holy Habits, mini Messy Church sessions and much more, until we were filled to the brim by the time we had to part on Sunday afternoon. Then, there came a moment that was defining for me. Richard Fisher, the Chief Executive at Bible Reading Fellowship, came to the podium to talk about the support that Bible Reading Fellowship offers the Messy Churches around the world. Then he had to do a difficult but extremely necessary task, to ask for financial support from the worldwide network of Messy Churches. It hit me. They do so much for us, we need to support them. BRF is the foundation and Messy Church is the house. It became somewhat of a mission to me from that moment to support the foundational organization that sustains us all. Bible Reading Fellowship. Together we are better.