Swing State Song & Story Fest: Becoming the Beloved Community

Some 90 people had a dry and beautiful week at Inspiration Hills Camp and Retreat Center in northern Ohio, July 8-14 this summer. We gathered in this “swing state” to consider how God is calling the church and our country to become a Beloved Community, rather than a divided camp of political and theological combatants.  Each day we focused one of the key attributes of a beloved community, namely: a community that is Grounded in God, who loves all people, all creation; is Insistently Inclusive, Courageously Christian, follows Jesus’ way of being Consistently Compassionate, Prophetically Progressive, Oddly Organized, and Clearly Committed.  Through stories and music and community interaction, we opened ourselves to the holy so that our life and work and struggles could move in time with the Spirit of Life to help us become God’s Beloved Community.


Our storytellers this year were Susan Boyer, Debbie Eisenbise, Kathy Guisewite, Jim Lehman and Barbara West.  We were treated to music by Theory Expats, a trio featuring Ethan Setiawan, Sadie Gustafson-Zook and Andrew Pauls; a reunion concert by Mutual Kumquat (Seth, Chris, Drue, Ben, David, Ethan, and Jacob); and concerts by Celloboe (Erin & Cody Flory Robertson), Peg Lehman, Louise Brodie, Greg & Rhonda Baker, and Mike Stern.  Afternoons were relaxing with lots of swimming in the lake, women’s and men’s sharing circles, jam sessions, naps and hikes.  This was the third Fest hosted by Inspiration Hills whose hospitality was gracious as usual.  Next summer we’ll be back to Camp Peaceful Pines in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, July 14-20, 2019.

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