Students, Staff Attend Rooted in Jesus Conference


The Rooted in Jesus Conference took place in January in Atlanta, Georgia. Seminary of the Southwest students, faculty, and staff participated in this annual event for the Episcopal Church to come together as disciples of Jesus and take a bold new step in leadership, evangelism, formation, and much more.

Derek Larson, an MDiv middler, said the conference was a wonderful opportunity for continued learning, communal worship, and networking.

Larson said he attended a “session on the future of liturgical revision in the church, a topic full of significance for the contemporary moment.” He had the opportunity to ask what role embodiment has in future liturgical revision.

“What I heard in the panel’s answer…is that because there is little in the rubrics about embodiment, there is actually a significant amount of freedom to creatively and culturally embody the liturgy,” Larson said. “What an energizing notion for thinking creatively about how liturgy can be contextualized in communities!”

Episcopal Evangelism Society lunch at Rooted in Jesus Conference, Atlanta, GA, January 23, 2020

The energy carried by the hundreds of Episcopalians gathered in prayer, worship, conversation, and learning was the most impacting experience of the trip, according to Larson.

“The conference began with a revival, and it truly felt like a revival. People were energized and excited, ready to spring into action sharing the Good News of the gospel with neighbor. Bishops Rob Wright, Michael Curry, and William Barber did a wonderful job of challenging and channeling the community to think about faith, evangelism, ministry, and the church creatively, passionately, and seriously,” Larson said. “That energy was carried into each session where conversation and collaboration continued in place of lecture only. Another student, Nelson Mendoza, and I had the opportunity to join other seminarians from across the church with the Episcopal Evangelism Society to have a conversation over lunch about evangelism. The wisdom of those in attendance spilled out onto one another and formed a common pool, and this was true throughout the entire Rooted in Jesus event. It was wonderful simply being at this conference to witness the Holy Spirit at work, but it also gave me so much hope for the future of the Episcopal Church. There were around ten students in attendance from the Seminary of the Southwest, and I can see how the experience of being at this conference has carried more energy and creativity into the classroom, the church, and the community.”

The Iona Center at Seminary of the Southwest hosted a luncheon at the conference, sharing with attendees their newly developed Video Collection for Congregations. Rebecca Hall, Director of Spiritual Formation at the Iona Center, hopes attendees grasped the vision of the new collection. ““I envision a robust collection of videos that can be adapted and used in multiple ways. There will be ample Christian formation staples, such as Bible studies, church history, theology and ethics. And, we will emphasize the sections on Spirituality and Prayer. But, what we hope will make this collection unique is that each video focuses on how to live the Christian life more fully and travel the spiritual journey more deeply,” said Hall.

Organizers of the Rooted in Jesus Conference have not announced plans for future gatherings.