Plenary 1: Going Up the Mountain

“Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, To the house of the God of Jacob.” (Isaiah 2:3).

Our focus in the first plenary will be going up the mountain, the ascent to connect with the Lord our God, with the worshiping, repenting, reading, and praying that it entails. Through written responses, recorded video interviews, and live speakers, we will hear from people around the New Church about what having a relationship with the Lord means to them. We will reflect on some passages about the Lord; we will speak candidly about the challenges and blessings of trying to follow the Lord; we will be challenged and inspired to grow in our relationship with the Lord.

Facilitated by Rev. Malcolm Smith

Additional Plenary Guest Speakers

Rafe Williams

Rafe lives in Bryn Athyn, Pennsylvania. He is currently attending Bryn Athyn College pursuing an interdisciplinary degree in Business and Computer Science. When he is not in class, you can find him running cross country for the college, helping coach the wrestling team at ANC, or traveling the world.

Penny Rhodes

Penny has lived on a farm in Kempton for over 50 years.  In her eighties, she has retired  from a full time practice as a cranialsacral therapist, spends her time helping people, saying “yes”, gardening, walking, being with friends.  And oh yes, her three sons and their families.

Leah Rose

Leah was raised in the Bryn Athyn community and is a graduate of its schools and college. She’s been married to Nick Rose for 37 years, and they have five fun adult kids and two exceptional granddaughters. Leah’s lifelong passion for words and how they communicate ideas and stories has led her to be a voracious reader, a big talker, and, most recently, an aspiring blogger. Health and wellbeing — natural and spiritual, individual and communal — are her favorite topics.

Plenary 2: Coming Down the Mountain 

“He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths” (Isaiah 2:3)

All of us are called up the mountain to connect with the Lord, and all of us figuratively go down the mountain to return to our day-to-day lives. This plenary is about the central calling to put our faith into practice and live according to spiritual principles. How do you express your faith in action? What do you most appreciate in the examples and strengths of others? In what ways can we support each other by means of this church to live up to the Lord’s charge? This plenary will feature testimonials from several people illustrating how they respond to the Lord's call.

Facilitated by Bishop Peter Buss, Jr.

Additional Plenary Guest Speakers

Carey Foord

Carey Foord resides in Westville, South Africa. She works at New Church Westville in a multi-dimensional position called Secretary and Newsletter Editor (which stands for “does everything”). Her church focus emphasizes volunteer coordination and connecting. I asked Carey to speak from the perspective of a choice to engage extensively in service to the church and to invite others to do the same.

Dawn Wadsworth

Dawn and Wayne Wadsworth reside in Atlanta, Georgia. Volunteering is a theme in their life, including service on the General Church Board--Dawn for six years, and Wayne as a current Director. Dawn and Wayne have also championed New Church education for their children, sending them to the Academy, and proudly seeing them through to graduation and beyond. I asked Dawn and Wayne to share a perspective about volunteering and about parenting from a New Church perspective.

Howard Thomson

Howard Thomson is a pastor within the General Church, currently on loan to the Australian Association. He serves the Roseville New Church in Sydney. Howard chose to enter the priesthood mid-career, after a successful career in the insurance industry. He brings a thoughtful, not-raised-in-the-New-Church perspective to his work, and a dedication that has led him and his family to serve in three countries so far. I asked Howard to talk about his decision to join the priesthood mid-career.

Landon Elder

Landon Elder resides in Richmond, Indiana. He works for a division of Vandor Corporation called Starmark Local - an Elder family company supporting funeral service throughout North America. He has a background in teaching and social work. I asked Landon to join this plenary as a speaker because of his passion for community service and making a difference in people’s lives through service.