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A Recap of the Conference 1 Gathering

"When Bishop Claire Burkat and Vice President Simon said that they wanted to tour each of the conferences, I explained to them that the Redwood Conference was as large as the state of Pennsylvania with a mountain range twice as tall as the Appalachians running through the middle of it. The only way to get to know our conference would be to spend three days driving to the clusters of congregations that are 3.5 hours away from each other. I never expected the bishop and vice president to take me up on my suggestion, but they did.

This past weekend, they drove over 700 miles to meet with congregations in wine country, Humboldt County, the Klamath Mountains, and the Sacramento Valley. It meant so much to each of our congregations to know that our synod's leadership cared enough to travel to the far reaches of the state to understand what makes our communities unique. As the new dean, it was inspiring for me to connect with siblings in Christ that I had never before met. The tour made me grateful to be the body of Christ with people who showed us such warmth and hospitality," shared Conference Dean Rev. Ben Colahan.

From Friday, Sept. 30 - Sunday, Oct. 2, Bishop Claire Burkat, Vice President Simon Wong, and Conference Dean Rev. Ben Colahan traveled hundreds of miles across the northernmost region of the Sierra Pacific Synod. The Redwood Mountain Conference, Conference 1, is the largest conference geographically and thus, held multiple smaller gatherings for their Fall Conference Gathering.

The weekend began with Fellowship and the Installation Service of the Rev. Bill Wessner at Cross and Crown Lutheran Church in Rohnert Park, CA. Pastors and Deacons from the northern bay area gathered Friday evening to bless Rev. Wessner and the community of Cross and Crown on this new season of shared ministry. Afterwards, they enjoyed a beautifully decorated cake - as seen above!

Saturday morning, they traveled up north to the coast of Fortuna to visit with our Humboldt County congregations, gathering at Christ Lutheran Church. There was time for fellowship, conversation, Q&A, and a lovely brunch.

Saturday afternoon brought them over the hill into Redding, where they gathered at St. James Lutheran Church. Here, they saw the tiny homes project the congregation has been working on over the past year as a response to the local housing insecure crisis. The community gathered for a lovely dinner and prayer service to close out a busy day.

Sunday morning brought Bishop Burkat and Simon Wong to Paradise Lutheran Church, where they joined this resilient and joy-filled community for worship. After losing their Parsonage in the 2018 Camp Fire, Paradise Lutheran Church has been building a disaster-resistant apartment building that will provide housing to neighbors in need and provide a new source of income to sustain this congregation.

The Conference Gathering concluded with an Oktoberfest picnic at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Artois, CA, where members of Faith Lutheran Church in Chico, CA joined St. Paul's for a bratwurst filled picnic and time of fellowship.

The map above shows the blue line path that Bishop Burkat and Simon Wong traveled on, with each blue dot representing a church in the Redwood Mountain Conference. Traveling throughout these three days gave Bishop Burkat and Simon incredible insight to the people and ministry of Conference 1. A special thank you to Rev. Ben Colahan, Conference Dean, for planning the weekend! Thank you to the congregations who hosted folks, to the many hands who fed community members, and for all who took the time to gather and be present.

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