August 10, 2016 8:45 pm CDT
Brian and I have arrived safely in New Orleans (NOLA), but the start of the Grace Gathering was a bit different that what we had planned. We were scheduled to arrive in NOLA at 3:15 pm, giving us plenty of time to check in to our hotel, then get to the convention center to register, eat dinner and attend the opening session of the Grace Gathering where Bishop Eaton was the keynote speaker.
We got on the road to San Francisco airport at 3 am from my daughter’s house in Concord. All went well until we boarded our connecting flight in Dallas, TX. After a 15-20 minute wait while a problem was being investigated, all passengers were asked to take their belongings and leave the plane. We were told there was a fuel line leak that could not be repaired and that a replacement plane was being secured. As we waited in the gate area, a police officer with a K-9 dog entered the jet way to the plane. Not sure what that was about, but I suspect something more serious than a leaking fuel line.
But, with gratitude for the averting of a possible problem, we awaited a substitute aircraft. Take off was about 2 hours after our scheduled time. Well, we thought, it will be a bit tight, but we should still be able to make it. It was not to be! We spent 30-40 minutes circling above the airport in NOLA because flights were backed up due to heavy rains.
We missed the opening session of the Grace Gathering, but we are here safe and sound, thanks be to God! We’ve been following news of the churchwide assembly, and learned that one of the guest speakers today was Dr. Sayyid M Syeed, the National Director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office of Interfaith and Community Alliances, in Washington, DC. Dr. Syeed was quoted as telling the assembly “An attack on one religion is an attack on all religions.”
Tomorrow we will have our first plenary session of the Grace Gathering and celebrate Holy Communion together. In the afternoon, there will be experiential learning opportunities. Brian is registered for “Access to Housing” and I am registered for “Music, Justice and Peace.”
Tomorrow, I’ll be able to tell you about new things we’ve learned and people we’ve met. I hope you’ll continue to pray for all of us gathered here in New Orleans as we seek new ways to be the church together.
Shalom. Pastor Eileen