Renee Reimer is a recent M.Div. graduate from Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. In August, she will begin as Pastor of Faith Formation at Bethel College Mennonite Church in North Newton, Kansas. Prior to living in Elkhart for the 2018-2019 school year, Renee taught preschool at Village Presbyterian Church and was the Youth and Outreach Ministries Director at Rainbow Mennonite Church (both in Kansas City). Renee is a Music Education graduate from Bethel College. She is currently enjoying being out of school for the first time since she was four years old by reading for fun, binge watching shows on Netflix and patio sitting with friends.
As an avid convention attendee since the age of 18 months old, I remember when (or I at least remember the stories of when) I travelled in a car for two straight days to my first convention in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I’ve only missed one convention in my lifetime. It was Pittsburg, and as an independent college student, I was informed by my parents that if I wanted to attend convention that summer, I’d have to find my own way there. Well, I didn’t and missed my one and only convention thus far.
These numerous convention experiences have taught me that there are so many fascinating ways one can experience the joy of convention at any age.
As a pastor’s kid, I remember when I was a child in the children’s program getting henna for the first time as we walked through various experiences of the global church through our Anabaptist lens.
I remember when in my later elementary school years I convinced a senior high youth (who I did not know) to give me his glow in the dark moon that the youth had received that day. I’m pretty sure still have it too!
I remember when I attended the junior high youth convention in Atlanta making friends with youth across the country as we rode up and down those glass elevators in the hotel (I might be the reason they have that “No riding the elevators up and down the hotel” rule today).
As a senior high youth, I remember when I spent my free time walking the exhibit hall with the four others in my youth group trying to obtain all the free stuff we could manage.
I remember when I had the opportunity in college to be one of the presenters that put on the show My Name is Rachel Corrie as a way to share the story of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with other convention attendees.
I remember when at the age of 24, I led 17 youth to their first convention experience. While I have never experienced such growth and excitement in one week before, I have also never been more exhausted in my life following that week of bonding together!
And the following convention (Orlando 2017), I was a delegate for the first time and experienced a completely different side of convention, one I had only ever heard or read about.
I’ve seen a lot of convention. I’ve done a lot at convention. And I have all the t-shirts to prove it … except for Pittsburg (I’d be willing to make a fair trade with anyone who has an extra). This summer, I venture into a new role at convention as the Children’s Program Coordinator. In this role, I am overseeing all things children, birth through 5th grade, and am learning all the behind the scenes things that need to happen in order for these memorable convention experiences to take place.
The Children’s Program was one of my first memories of convention, and while I remember feeling nervous to be away from my parents with a bunch of people I did not know, I now only look back on those memories with a smile on my face.
It is my hope that the more than 100 children that are attending convention this year have a similarly positive experience.
I am sorry to say there will not be any henna this year. Instead, children can expect to engage their whole body through large group games, storytelling, creation exploration, servant projects, and a field trip to the Nelson-Atkins Museum. We will be journeying with one another during our week together as we walk with Jesus on his path to God.
Our mornings will be spent in large group activities like group games, service projects, and the off-site field trip, which will include a picture scavenger hunt at the art museum and a glass maze to explore! The afternoons will include worship themed around Walking with Jesus. Together, we will explore when Jesus’ disciples were afraid and how Jesus walked with them (John 6:16-21), how Jesus welcomes everyone to walk with him (John 4:1-26), and how we can walk with Jesus and show love to him (John 12:1-8). The rest of the afternoon will be spent walking through hands-on experiences like The Lion and the Lamb peace lab, music making, biblical storytelling, movement and creative prayer practices. And of course, there will be snacks and recreation in the midst of all these experiences too!
Come and experience my love of convention with me. We will sweat from all the activities together (and from the July Kansas City heat). We will laugh with our bellies from all of the excitement and lack of sleep we may be experiencing. And we will create new memories together we can all look back and smile at as we remember when.