Recently I was blessed to be able to attend the 2nd Annual Ancient Faith Writing and Podcasting conference at Antiochian Village in Bolivar, PA. As I reflect on these few days with some old friends and many new friends, I’m reminded of a saying: “To be inspired is great, but to be an inspiration is an honor.”
From June 15th to June 17th we gathered at the Antiochian Village to hear inspiring instruction and to share ideas and to refuel our creative juices for the unbelievable honor of sharing the spiritual treasures of faith with as many as possible.
We heard from my friend and co-worker Bill Marianes (www.stewardshipcalling.com) about finding our “why.” It’s an incredible concept that stands as the foundation of discovering the “strong enough” motivation to do the very hard work of communication with all its pitfalls, stumbles, misunderstanding, and mistakes. How will we ever stay faithful to this very hard work if we don’t know WHY it’s worth the effort? Bill did a great job in kicking off the conference with inspiration and motivation.
We also heard from the amazing statesman and just all around brilliant guy, Dr. Albert Rossi. Dr. Rossi teaches at St. Vladimir’s Seminary and is an amazing therapist and teacher. His media work can be enjoyed at www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/healingpresence, and that is an appropriate name for his work – A Healing Presence. Most of you know me as this off the charts over the top carnival barker for the Faith, but Dr. Rossi shared with us the absolute necessity of cultivating silence in our souls so as to hear the “still, small voice” of God. If I ever grow up, I’d like to be like Dr. Rossi, but I fear I won’t live long enough to be that stable and peaceful. Dr. Rossi, you are a treasure!
Then came the incredible wisdom and instruction from Dr. Nicole Roccas (www.nicoleroccas.com) & (https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/timeeternal/) and her insight on how to use our time and manage our projects. It was so comforting to hear from this writing professional about how to keep the creative juices flowing and how to set yourself up for success in the very hard work of writing well. PLUS, I learned this dear lady was one of the team that helped edit my book. The very fact she was willing to even speak to me after THAT ordeal is a testament of her mercy and grace!
We also heard from missionary Nathan Hoppe (www.ancientfaith.com/contributors/nathan_hoppe) and his challenge that we use our communications gifts to help the long term missionary work for our Church around the world. His message really struck a nerve with me, especially since some of the most wonderful memories of my life had were about the annual missionary conventions of my youth. The absolute commitment of Nathan to a serious obedience to the Lord’s Great Commission inspired (and convicted) us all. So much so that I hope we will be able to have a Missions Month on AFR like we had a Children’s Month last year.
The workshops were all packed with helpful tools for we media producers, but the greatest joys for me were the times when we could talk one on one with people I had read and listened to but had never met. Of course I also had a bit of a “fan moment” when I had the chance to spend time with Fr. Andrew Damick of “Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy” fame (https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxyandheterodoxy/) and even met Elissa Bjeletich (http://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/raisingsaints). Fr Andrew agreed to sign my copy of Orthodoxy and Heterodoxy!
I was surprised and honored to receive one of the very first Crystal Awards from Ancient Faith Ministries on Friday night along with Fr. Andrew and Elissa. They recognized us for having not just published a book for Ancient Faith, but also having a podcast and a blog with Ancient Faith. We all recognize that the “content monster” is never full!
My takeaways from this moment in my life will be the wonderful instruction we were blessed to receive while there at the beautiful Antiochian Village. But the greatest treasures for me was to be with these co-workers in the Lord’s Vineyard who are committed to sharing the treasures of Orthodoxy in every way we can. To spend time with these heroes of the faith who labor, many times in the background, allowed me to recharge my own soul, to remind me WHY this work is important and helpful, and to always remember “Unless the Lord builds the house, the laborers labor in vain.”
I can’t wait till next year. I sure hope you can come too!
P.S. We wouldn’t have been able to accomplish so much without the labors of Melinda Johnson and her team! Thanks Melinda. Good strength to your efforts.