This June, we were delighted to host the third Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting Conference at Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA. This Conference is a professional development and fellowship opportunity for Orthodox Christians who want to enrich their creative work or break into a new media field. Eleven speakers led sessions on a rich variety of topics (you can listen to them here), and guests also worshiped together, enjoyed fellowship, and visited the grave of St. Raphael of Brooklyn.
With record attendance this year, we are already planning the next edition of this conference, which will take place in 2021. Dates and ticket information will be posted as soon as they’re available. In the meantime, read the responses of people who attended this year’s Conference!
I attended the first AFCon and was amazed at how all of these writers and podcasters I’ve read and respected came to life before my very eyes! All of my imaginary friends were there, and their energy and conversations inspired and energized me. It was like summer camp for writers. I’ve just left my third AFCon and it’s not like seeing friends as much as folding back into my huge extended family of faithful creative types — nurturing one another and supporting each other’s work. It’s energizing and inspiring, and it’s more than that. It’s a loving family, and I am so grateful for the Ancient Faith community and for AFCon! – Elissa Bjeletich
I came to AFCon III with no expectations or preconceived notions. All I wanted was to learn, and to converse with other Orthodox writers. My heart was opened, and because of that, I was transformed. I became friends with several of my peers and enjoyed conversing with the clergy. As I traveled home, my mind was swirling with new ideas and thoughts. I couldn’t help but be inspired, especially with everything that I had learned, and all the people I met. These wonderful AFCon people not only helped deepen my faith, they actually changed my life for the better. I can’t wait for the next conference. – Ian Schrom
I came home bursting with joy to know that there are so many other Orthodox Christians who feel compelled to use whatever skill they possess to reveal to the world the beauty there is to behold in the face of Christ. I felt a part of something godly and good. – Cheryl Anne Tuggle
Adult converts to Orthodoxy often find themselves outside of their past networks, and it is a daunting task to try to find their footing once again. AFCon has been a wonderful way to meet with others, both fellow converts and cradle followers, who are trying to express their faith in the creative art of writing, and to find that the Orthodox family is both large and sprawling (as most families tend to be), but at the same time loving and intimate and supportive. And sharing the faith and worship our lord Jesus Christ together over these short days brings home how vital it is to share that with others through whatever means we have, in truth and love, and in beauty. – J. Patrick Sullivan
Thanks to the unbelievable positivity and encouragement of Melinda Johnson, Ancient Faith’s Marketing Director, I took the plunge and traveled across the country into a weekend of faith and inspiration that gave me so much. I instantly felt welcomed by so many, and it’s fair to say, have made new friendships that are already edifying my faith and my writing. Antiochian Village near Fort Ligonier, PA, was a beautiful location to disconnect from daily life and reconnect with a deeper spiritually. The talks were uplifting (and emotional!), and the speakers were real folks full of faith that helped me see my work in a different light. To top it off, getting to worship in their beautiful chapel while on site was a lovely experience. I recommend this conference to anyone who is interested in publishing with Ancient Faith Publishers, learning how to write or podcast about spiritual topics, or want to connect with other creatives who are exploring ways to get their work into the world … or at least out of their hearts and onto the page. 🙂 – Brandi Willis Schreiber
I can’t remember ever having a better time with people I hardly ever see but nonetheless have grown (or in some cases, beginning) to hold dear. Being on the top of the mountain, and the memories it produced as braces for my life, makes handling things at the bottom so much easier. – Dr. Gary Jenkins
At AFCon I felt a real sense of community, more than any other writing conference I attended. There’s nothing more exciting than to meet face to face the authors of the books I have read myself and to my children. I loved the opportunity to meet aspiring writers as well and learn more about their ideas. I left feeling connected and energized, ready to write and share more about my faith. – Phoebe Farag Mikhail
This conference was a genuine Godsend. Where I’m from, aside from a few close friends, there isn’t a very strong or vibrant Orthodox community that I’m able to take part in. AFCon gave me the opportunity to connect with a large group of like-minded people and provide the chance to create and forge friendships that are grounded in our love for Jesus Christ. The talks were both practical and intellectually engaging, and having the ability to start and end the day in prayer made this just as much a retreat as it was a conference. Everything we’re doing means nothing if it isn’t grounded in the prayer life of the Church, and so not only did the conference equip me with new information to go out and engage the culture, it also fed me spiritually, reminding me that all my work must be sustained by that. AFCon breathed a much-needed breath into both my spiritual life and creative mind, and I look forward to seeing the great things my many new friends will be working on in the coming months. I cannot wait for the next conference, and God willing I’ll be bringing as many people as I can fit in my car. – Matthew Emerson
There’s an irony I have felt in the Orthodox Church for many years – and maybe it’s just been me. In the midst of a faith that is so imbued with the results of the creative spirit – in art, architecture, hymnography, music, writing, and more – I have felt it difficult to be a “Creative.” I think this irony is rooted in the fact that the Faith is so rich with (artistic) ritual that there is a danger of it becoming ritualistic for us “end-users.” Worse, as I heard an Orthodox bishop once say, when ritual is so strong, there is a danger of our attitude toward it becoming pharisaical. So it was with joy and relief that for two days I got to hang out with and learn from the experiences of other creatives, exploring themes of culture, imagination, and, indeed, the feelings of vulnerability in the creative process. I hope that AFcon will continue for years and that more Orthodox Christians can benefit from it. Sign me up for the next one! – Nicholas Kosar