By Roberta J. Egli
We’re off on an early morning flight to California. As the plane climbs into the air I take a minute to reflect on the past 17 months. Little did I realize in May 2016 that a conversation with Lucy Moore with the USA representatives at the Messy Church International Conference would have such a large impact on my life. Marty Drake, Julie Hintz Block, Leyla Wagner and myself spent some time talking about our own Messy Church experiences and the isolation we experienced since we were the only churches in our area that were engaged in offering Messy Church. Over the next six months, we added Nicole Reilley, a trainer for many Messy Churches that started in California and beyond, to the conversation as we met through google hangouts and brainstormed how we could build a supportive network for the Messy Churches within the USA. Now a mere 17 months after meeting each other, we were hosting the first Messy Church USA conference.
As Lynn (Messy Church USA business manager and my husband) and I arrive on the campus of Community UMC we are met by an enthusiastic welcome and a bit of chaos. There were books to be unpacked and organized, six broken ‘Life is Messy…Got Faith?’ mugs that had been carefully packed and mailed from Eugene, OR to clean up (thank heavens we had six that made it) and programs to review and put together.
In the courtyard of the church the trustees of the church were busy putting up twinkle lights on the outdoor furniture, in the work room a volunteer was diligently using the multi-hole punch for our 100 program booklets, out back someone was getting wood prepared for the beach bonfire. This getting ready business was a bit messy but I was impressed by the many volunteers who joyfully worked both behind the scenes and in the thick of everything so welcoming and inviting for those who would arrive the next day.
Friday morning after a short night of sleep after a flight from London, Lucy Moore, Martyn Payne and Stephen Fischbacher sat at our table in our Beach house Airbnb and wrote a short song for our general sessions as they ate breakfast. What fun to be in the middle of such creative energy.
Registrants began to arrive at 4:00 pm and were welcomed extravagantly by the welcome teams from the church. Stephen was joined by a large bass as they jammed in the courtyard as people gathered. The hour had come… ready or not …it was time to Get Messy in the USA.
The next 48 hours were filled with inspiration, learning, fun, great music, meeting new friends, waiting in line for the restroom at break, large group sessions and smaller workshops. One of the exciting elements of the conference was to officially launch Messy Church USA. In addition to planning for the conference, the group that began meeting 17 months ago formed a nonprofit corporation and entered into an agreement with Bible Reading Fellowship/ Messy Church International to become the home Messy Church here in the states. Our goal for Messy Church USA is to provide an organizational structure to support the health, growth and sustainability of local Messy Churches in the USA. In addition Messy Church USA will assist individual Messy Churches to become an integrated part of the larger national and global network of Messy Churches. More information about Messy Church USA in future blog posts!
So here we go… ready for the next adventure! Let’s continue to Get Messy in the USA together!