From Portsmouth to Independence

By Wayne Allen

October 23, 2013

Wayne Allen

PDT Staff Writer

On Oct. 17 more than 20 people including youth and young adults boarded a charter bus in Portsmouth headed to Independence, Mo. for the weekend.

To get there would require us to travel 690 miles and 14 hours. Excited about what the trip and the weekend had to offer us, we boarded the bus with enthusiasm.

The majority of the travelers on the journey were from the Community of Christ West Portsmouth Branch with a few people from the surrounding branches.

Our destination was the Community of Christ International Headquarters in Independence, Mo. for the 2013 Peace Colloquy.

Starting our 14-hour journey late on Thursday enabled some to find sleep on the bus, easily.

Right off the bat our schedule was tight.

When everyone boarded the bus we hit the road in anticipation of arriving in Independence just in time for the first activity to start on Friday morning. With the fact we gained an hour in crossing a time zone.

So, as you could imagine boarding a bus in Portsmouth, traveling 14 hours with a few stops in between for gas, food and restroom breaks and upon arrival entering into the conference schedule, will take its toll on anyone.

The conference schedule was jammed full of activities that awaited us when we arrived. The only question was if our endurance could maintain throughout the day until we could check into our hotel.

I think it would safe to assume it was rough going for a while, but we all made it.

The youth of our trip were scheduled to take part in their own retreat Friday afternoon.

They needed someone older to hangout with them during the day on Friday. As it turned out I was able to hangout with them for the majority of that day. Until they needed to be dropped off at their retreat location.

The only question that remained on Friday was where could you feed more than 20 people on a chartered bus in a timely fashion. The end result was Cracker Barrel.

Without going through the details, someone on our trip found out while we were at dinner her brother had died.

She stayed very strong throughout the remainder of the evening and made arrangements to fly out on Saturday morning to be with her family in her time of loss.

Part of the activities of the weekend included the launch of our new denominational hymnal, Community of Christ Sings.

This book has been a long time in the making as our last denominational hymnal was released 32 years ago.

Participants of the conference were were given personal copies to use during the weekend and in our home congregations.

Every year during the colloquy, a ceremony is held to award the Community of Christ International Peace Award. This year’s recipient was John Bell of Scotland who had contributed a number of hymns to our new hymnal.

Bell was at the conference all weekend and performed may workshops throughout the weekend.

As the weekend drew to a close, it was evident there was an enthusiasm among those in attendance to bring the new hymnal to the communities in which we live.

On Sunday morning, as a part of the closing worship, the President of the Community of Christ Steve Veazey gave the mornings message on the influence of singing within the Community of Christ.

“Something deeply spiritual happens when the church community sings together, it’s much more than just the sound of our individual combined voices. God lifts us beyond our individuality and weaves us into sacred community,” Veazey said. “Congregational singing drawls people into restoring community, breaks down barriers and opens them to new life in Christ. It also has the power to bind us together as a worldwide church community.”

I can not speak for the rest of those who came from this area on the trip, but as I reflect on the experiences of the weekend and the 1,380 miles traveled, my faith has been renewed. I know there is a purpose for me and for those who chose to follow along on this journey we call life.

Although I slept all day Monday and could still use a few more hours of sleep, I do not regret a thing and look forward to having a similar experience next year.

Wayne Allen may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 228, or tallen@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Wayne on Twitter @WayneallenPDT.