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Shall we gather at the River? | Bishop McAlilly


Shall we gather at the River?

Map of River Basins Across the Country

 

As a boy, we would camp along the Tennessee River at a place we called “Sycamore Cove.”  I used to sit on the banks of the river there between Pickwick Dam and JP Coleman State Park.  I would watch the water glide by.  It made its way downstream, gained speed and momentum, and disappeared out of sight. Around the bend the waters converged, becoming one.

This is where I fell in love with The River.  Sometimes calm and sacred.  Sometimes swift and turbulent. It is also where I learned to respect it after once being stranded in a storm.

The Bible is full of rivers. There is the Nile where Moses was adopted. There is the Jordan where Jesus was baptized. And there is The River of Life about which John of Patmos speaks in Revelation 22.

Water. River Water. Baptism.

A river runs through us. I’m told that the Tennessee River is a dividing line in this world I’ve come to inhabit. I hear folks speak of the “other side of the river,” and they mean the other Annual Conference, not theirs. But there is a song that has been sung on both sides of the river for longer than we can remember, “Shall We Gather at the River.”

Today, the river is calling me to it again – this time, with you.

Thank you for spending time with me in our 18 conversations across both conferences to discuss how we may partner in our growth and, indeed, in our future disciple-making.

You’ll see in the report that the financial implications, benefits, and clergy interests are top-of-mind topics, which are appropriate for a convergence such as the one we are proposing.

Together, we can become stronger, much like the rivers that converge around and through Middle and West Tennessee and Western Kentucky. The Tennessee. The Cumberland. The Ohio. The Duck. And others. Flowing into the Mighty Mississippi. My hope is that we will work together with open hearts and open minds as we navigate these waters.

Shall we gather at the River?

 

Report: key themes from 18 conversations

Map Source: Robert Szucs, Hungarian cartographer, GrasshopperGeography (Etsy)