Len & Co off in Kelowna are hosting Peregrinations: An Emerging Church Forum from November 4-6, 2005. Looks like a great time; I love the format and the rumblings I hear about this upcoming event. I would also very much welcome an opportunity to sit down with emerging church folk particularly in Canada and discuss the for formation of Emergent Canada, which we have started discussing already.
I’ve been asked a few times now if I’m planning to attend, and I would dearly love to… problem is, I simply don’t have the $ to cover the travel. Time off is not an issue, the registration fee is nominal, I’ve got free accommodations if I can get there, and I think I can muster the cash for incidentals, but transport is the problem. Wendy McAlpine (Robbymac‘s better half) was the most recent person to whom I had to give the explanation. My first objection was that my wife is working that weekend, so I need to be around for the kids. “Grandparents!” she said. Not content with finances being my second “excuse” for not attending, she suggested I get people to donate Air Miles so I could make the trip. Apparently these travel points can be transferred… So just to make Wendy happy — and on the off-chance it could make me happy by actually working — email me if you have extra points you’d like to donate to the cause. These would need to be Air Miles brand points (where I would need 1950 points) or Aeroplan points (where it looks like I need 25,000 points, but it’s a bit hard to tell). These are the only travel reward plans for which I have memberships, but the Air Canada one (Aeroplan) lets you purchase the missing points, so cash would also work nicely. Checking the cost of simply purchasing flights via West Jet and Air Canada just now, it looks like the airfare would cost $300-500Cdn (between ~$250-425USD), with seat sales presently available on both airlines for $300Cdn ($250USD) round-trip, plus whatever taxes they pile up on top of that. Not too bad actually, it’s cheaper than the gas to drive it… unfortunately I still don’t have the extra cash for it.
Next up, I’m wondering about all those Emergent gatherings where people come from all over to attend, and wondering how everyone else accomplishes this, with higher airfaires, hotel costs and car rentals added in, and sometimes they do this more than once a year. Wow.
Lastly, this whole thing is causing me to think about the viability of a worldwide emerging church forum which would have perhaps six or eight centres worldwide where people could congregate, or else could participate online from home or from their city with five or six friends gathered. All of the plenary sessions would be broadcast live and/or time-delayed (as well as on demand from archives) over the Internet, with different speakers for these sessions speaking from whichever conference centre is closest to them geographically, and interaction would then take place online around the globe in real time and via message-board forums. Because wider participation could be facilitated, only a nominal fee would be collected to offset bandwidth costs; those attending one of the conference centres would pay an additional fee to help offset the cost of facility rental and so forth. In one way it makes me wonder how that’s much different than what we do via blogdom every day, but I think it is different enough. With this idea, we’d have a scheduled agenda and topics for presentation and discussion, and there would be a focused time period (about four days?) in which it would take place. It would have also public gatherings which interface directly with the online conversation. This is one area where we in the emerging church could try to work out solutions to facilitate worldwide gatherings or conferences that don’t require travel on a scale with which most North Americans seem at ease.