Led by the spirit -

When Fran and I had our initial conversation with Jennifer Bailey, Serene Jones, and Brian McLaren we immediately knew that the spirit had led us to these three voices for 2020. They each bring great wisdom and have the gift of making theology relevant and alive in this moment in history.
We can’t avoid the context of our next gathering – we will be coming together – two days after the general election. We named this when we talked with the three of them and what evolved was a beautiful conversation about healing. No matter the outcome of the election – We are called to be healers! Living into the words Grace, Justice, Mercy, and Forgiveness.

Brian McLaren calls us to look to the future – preparing and repairing the world for our children and our children’s children. He reminds us that across the differences of the world’s faith traditions we all want much the same for our world. The same can be said of most who are divided by other ideologies as well. There are good passionate people of all faiths and no faith. He asks, “what can we accomplish if we come together?” Good people, institutions, grassroots organizations are poised to come together believing that in community we can make a difference. How can we as the AwakeningSoul community be the inspiration for healing and a future that is good for all?
Jennifer Bailey says we must have a long-term focus. Her work with The Faith Matters Network and The People’s Supper is part of a healing justice movement. She challenges us to understand that healing is at the core of organizing – that healing must be at the core of our work in the world. As old beliefs and systems die, she is encouraged by the young activists she is working with - seeing the emergence of the new as the hopes and dreams of these new activist bloom. Jen comes to us with an enormous amount of experience of creating space for understanding and healing through conversations across political and ideological divides. How can we create those kinds of spaces beyond the AwakeningSoul experience?
Like Jen Bailey, several of our past presenters have said you have to do your inner work before you can do social justice work in a sustainable way. Some of us were left with the question, “well, yes, but how?” Serene Jones models a way to do that internal healing work. She shares her own stories of family racism, inter-generational secrets, and betrayal in a way that prompts listeners to explore their own personal stories. Healing, whether it is a physical wound or one of the soul, must begin inside and move toward the outside – toward the light. In this topsy- turvy world where facts are questioned and gaslighting is commonplace, where everything feels overwhelming and fragile, we need to do the "inside out” work. Serene calls us to do this work with her. She believes that in doing the inner work we are preparing ourselves to do the work we are called to do in the world.
When Fran and I hung up from the call we were so excited. We know that these three voices will bring exactly what we need when we gather on November 5 th at Lutheridge.

We'd love to have you join us for ...

AwakeningSoul 2020

November 5-8
Lutheridge Conference Center
More about these folks -
Jennifer Bailey is the founder and executive director of The Faith Matters Network and co-founder of The People’s Supper . She is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church and an emerging national leader in the multi-faith movement for justice. FMN is a Womanist-led organization equipping community organizers, faith leaders, and activists with resources for connection, spiritual sustainability, and accompaniment. Jen comes to this work with nearly a decade of experience at nonprofits combating intergenerational poverty. 
Since January 2017, The People’s Supper has hosted over 1,500 suppers in 121 communities nationwide focusing on bringing people together to engage constructively on issues affecting their communities. The project has teamed up with ordinary citizens, schools, workplaces, faith communities, and neighborhood organizations to create space of collective healing over nourishing meals and conversation.
Jen enjoys good food, dancing like nobody is watching, and road trip adventures with her husband, psychotherapist and religious studies scholar Ira Helderman.
Serene Jones is the first female President of the historic Union Theological Seminary in New York City. Prior to Union, she was at Yale University for seventeen years where she was the Titus Street Professor of Theology at the Divinity School, and Chair of the University’s Program in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She is an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. A highly respected scholar and public intellectual, Serene is the author of several books including  Trauma and Grace  and, most recently, a spiritual memoir  Call It Grace: Finding Meaning in a Fractured World .
Much of Serene’s work and writing focuses on trauma and social justice in the context of grace, mercy, and forgiveness. She is routinely sought by media to comment on major issues impacting society because of her deep grounding in theology, politics, women’s studies, economics, race studies, history, and ethics. She is incredibly gifted in theological reflection. In  Call it Grace , Serene models how to do our own inner work as we prepare to do justice work in the world. Her personal reflection brings the words of Calvin, Kierkegaard, Barth, Niebuhr, and so many more to life as she intertwines them with the stories of her Oklahoma roots.
Brian McLaren is a speaker, activist, and best-selling author. A former evangelical pastor, he advocates and works toward “a new kind of Christianity”—just, generous, and working with people of all faiths for the common good. Brian began his career as a college English teacher and then served as a pastor for twenty-four years. He now writes, speaks, and engages in contemplative activism, focused on caring for the planet, seeking justice for the poor, and working for peace. He is a faculty member of   The Living School , which is part of Richard Rohr’s  Center for Action and Contemplation.  He co-leads the Common Good Messaging Team, which is part of  Vote Common Good . He is also an  Auburn Senior Fellow  and a leader in  the Convergence Network , through which he has developed an innovative training/mentoring program for pastors, church planters, and lay leaders called  Convergence Leadership Project.  
Brian’s many books include  Naked Spirituality A New Kind of Christianity, The Great Spiritual Migration  and just released  The Galapagos Islands: A Spiritual Journey . A gifted composer, his music is included in the AwakeningSoul Ensemble repertoire. He and his wife Grace live in Southwest Florida, where they enjoy visits from their four adult children and five grandchildren. Learn more about Brian at  https://brianmclaren.net/ .
Here is the AwakeningSoul Ensemble sharing Brian McLaren's song If We Don't Have Love. Enjoy!
We would love to have you join us -

A few notes:
  • There are still plenty of double rooms available on-site, but all single rooms on-site are full. Single rooms at the Fairfield Inn are now available. See lodging and pricing details.
  • Group discounts are available again. See details. Group spreadsheet.
  • Young Adult Scholarships are available for interested participants who are under 40. Apply here.

If you have any difficulties with registration, please let us know immediately. We are happy to help - Ann Holtz 865.414.8509 or Angie Yates 828.209.6328
AwakeningSoul Is the collaborative partnership of Fran McKendree and Ann Holtz. Fran is a gifted musician based in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Ann is both a spiritual director and an independent consultant. She lives in Waynesville, NC. Together they have formed AwakeningSoul to offer spiritual events to feed hungry souls. Ann can be reached at annawakening@gmail.com or 865-414-8509 .