Diocese of Wichita 2014 PLC: Something for Everyone
This year's Diocese of Wichita and Mid America's (DOWAMA) Parish Life Conference was held in San Antonio, Texas. The host church was the tiny St. Ephraim the Syrian, with host pastor The Rev. John Mefrige. Not only was there great weather, but the 412 people who attended conference found old friends, met new ones, and were both physically and spiritually encouraged.
There was something happening for everyone. The younger kids went to a children's Whitte Museum one day and did some interesting craft projects the next. Teens were busy going to Six Flags/Fiesta Texas as well as making blankets to be donated to a community home for unwed mothers. There was also a large variety of workshops to choose from for the older age group. Some of these included: preparing for the end of life, serving the homeless in America, making disciples in the shadow of secularism, and the list goes on. All of the workshops were led by wonderful people truly gifted in the area they spoke on.
The key speaker, Sister Dr. Vassa Larin, came all the way from Vienna, Austria to be with us. She is a monastic of the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad and liturgiologist of the highly prestigious University of Vienna in Austria. Her whit and humor, as well as her down-to-earth approach, allowed us to learn in an informal, but profound way. She was truly a blessing to everyone!
We also had meetings for many committees including: the Antiochian women's group, Teen SOYO, and the Order of St. Ignatius. Bishop Basil had the joy of inducting eight new members into the Order.
Then there was the food. Both clergy as well as lay people said it was amazing. We heard from the clergy that it was the best dinner they ever had at a clergy and wives dinner. Of course on Friday we had to have a GRAND Banquet, mariachi band and all. St. Ephraim's Deacon George was a part of the act with his violin marching to the beat of the Mexican music (he plays professionally in our San Antonio Symphony).
After a fun, refreshing, and relaxing few days we ended it on Saturday with a wonderful Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with Bishop Basil presiding. The hospitality room was open one last time for people to enjoy each other before departing for home.
We at St. Ephraim worked hard for several years with the goal of having a conference that ran smoothly, efficiently, providing a time and place where people would come and be refreshed. We had many compliments from people suggesting that this had happened. We give God the glory for that, and we pray the same prayer for our sister church in Denver, Colorado, who will be hosting the PLC next year!
Text by Nancy Korb