Every triennial gathering is packed with a staggering array of events and opportunities. It might appear daunting or overwhelming, especially for the first-time attendee. Since no two women experience the triennial gathering in the same way, here’s the insider’s guide to making your Just Love Gathering experience just right for you.
1. Have a plan. If you’re the free-spirited type who wants to have the whole gathering wash over her, letting things happen as they may, skip to #2 now.
If you’re the type of woman who likes some order, identify your “must dos” and create a personal to-do list.
Maybe you’ve been thinking about some goals to accomplish during the gathering; write them down and bring them along.
2. You can’t do it all. While the gathering is full of exciting opportunities, you can’t expect to attend them all. It’s just not possible. If you are part of a group from your congregation, you might want to compare notes to plan ways of splitting up the gathering to gather up the most information to take back home.
3. Take advantage of learning opportunities. Friday and Saturday afternoons are filled with workshops and servant opportunities. Challenge yourself to attend sessions that introduce you to new ideas rather than attending sessions where you might feel the most comfortable. You can learn something new to take back home and share with women in your congregation. Have a plan to bail after 15 minutes if you’re bored in a session and go to the next event in that time slot that interests you. Ask lots of questions: talk to speakers, workshop leaders, authors, exhibitors, vendors, and the women sitting next to you.
4. Bring along one great idea. What’s worked well in your congregational unit of Women of the ELCA? Or in women’s ministries in your congregation? Be ready to share that idea with women you meet. If that idea involved something tangible (e.g., brochure, flyer, hula hoop, gift item), bring one along as your visual aid. Meanwhile, seek out ideas from other women. Maybe you can replicate or adapt their work. Or, at least, you can learn to avoid others’ mistakes!
5. Don’t forget your prayer life. Invite God’s presence into your day each morning. At day’s end, recall where you encountered God throughout the day.
6. Look for ways to build community. Everyone has to eat, so share a meal with someone you haven’t met before. Chat with the women around you in plenary sessions, workshops, and servant events. You can even build community while standing in line for the rest room! The most interesting, informative, and educational experience might not happen in a workshop but, rather, one-on-one.
7. Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy. Take notes on your smart phone or in a pretty journal you’ve been saving for a special occasion. You don’t even have to write in complete sentences. Just keep a daily summary of what you’ve learned. Use breaks to capture key issues, ideas, and contacts. Spend a few moments each evening summarizing the day’s learnings.
8. Be thinking about September 25th. You’ll leave Phoenix feeling empowered, inspired, and ready to take on the world. Then you’ll go home, do the laundry, and get back into your regular routine. By thinking about your post-gathering days while at the gathering, you’re more likely to arrive home with a post-gathering plan on what to do with all the new-found information, ideas, and advice.
9. Be social. When contributing or consuming content at the Just Love Gathering in social media, use the tag #JustLove. Join Women of the ELCA’s communities on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Add #ActBoldly and #WeAreWELCA to your posts.
10. Do your best adulting.
- Travel light, leaving room in your suitcase for items you’ll pick up at the gathering. Ship extra items home, if necessary.
- Leave hotel and contact information with someone back home.
- While traveling, never leave luggage unattended and never accept or take items belonging to unknown persons.
- Make sure you can identify your luggage quickly since many pieces of luggage look alike.
- Pack comfortable clothes and shoes. Bring along a sweater, shawl, or wrap—it can be cold in the convention center. You’ll do a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are essential.
- Recharge your electronic devices each night.
- Set your cell phone to vibrate during the gathering. If you must answer a call during a session, quietly exit the room and then take the call.
- If you’re traveling with a group, program everyone’s phone number into your cell phone.
- Don’t wear your badge outside the convention center (with the exception of the opening reception).
- Monitor your own health. Keep hydrated. Make smart choices and avoid unhealthy snacks. Rest when necessary. Get enough sleep. Be realistic with your expectations
- .Relating to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, you are welcome to wear masks, but masks are not required. You are encouraged to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 but full vaccination is not required to attend. Use hand sanitizers regularly. If you feel unwell, please do not attend until you feel better.
- Relax and have a good time.
And one more thing. We have a fun surprise we’ll be announcing sometime in the week of August 28th. We’ll post the announcement on welcatg.org and in our social media feeds. Heads up!