For many of us, one of the required memory verses from Sunday school or Vacation Bible School was Matthew 28:19‒20, also known as “The Great Commission,” in which we were commanded to go into all the world, baptizing and teaching. When I was in Sunday school, I had no concept of a digital world or the Internet or computers that could go with us, as smart phones do now. All I knew about was Dick Tracy’s TV wristwatch in the newspaper cartoons, thinking that would be marvelous.
As a teenager, my family became part of a new church development, which was organized around house churches. We met for Bible study, prayer and discussion in members’ homes and participated in specific mission programs. My favorite was the coffee house ministry, which welcomed any person into this church missional environment. Reflecting back, this was pretty cutting edge stuff for the 1960-70s.
We’ve all heard it—the church and world is in a state of change. Some of us will embrace it; some of us will resist it. Regardless of where you are on that continuum, change is happening at a faster rate than we have ever seen. The theme of the 2014 Annual Event is “ConnectED,” as we explore how educational ministry relates to the changing world around us, with new concepts, new tools and new methodologies to consider. Brian McLaren, noted “emergent church” thinker, author and speaker will be the keynote presenter. Barbara Essex will be the worship leader, with the Presbyterian “Peacocks” helping to engage us in the new Presbyterian congregational song book (yes, another change in our midst). It seems only appropriate that San Jose, home of Silicon Valley, be our gathering place for the 2014 Annual Event.
We invite you to come to San Jose. Educators, teaching elders, ruling elders, parents, grandparents…all those seeking this educational community in which we will explore “ConnectED” are welcome. The event will also include an ecumenical dimension, as we focus on including more denominations than our five denomination APCE association.
This will be my last Annual Event as the APCE president, and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in San Jose. I thank you for the opportunity to serve this association as its president and ask for your continued prayers and support for APCE, as APCE also discerns its new structure and direction for the future.
Forrest Palmer, former executive associate presbyter for the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, is interim executive presbyter for the Presbytery of West Virginia. Forrest has been an educator in congregations in Virginia, Florida, and North Carolina and directed a camp in Virginia. Forrest and his wife, Barbara Hollman Palmer, are both certified Christian educators and ruling elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).