I am getting excited about our little trip to America’s mid west on November 8th.
I have been enjoying such trips since 2003. My book Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 came out in 2001. Somehow along the way the book fell into the hands of Gail Heffner who told her husband Ken to read it. Ken did and invited me be the Keynote speaker at The Festival of Faith and Music in March 2003.
Ken is a man of influence and it was not long before I was getting other invites to speak. I remember a particular favourite in 2004 when I did a Chapel Talk at Messiah College, Pennsylvania on Radiohead’s No Surprises.
On that same trip in 2004 I found myself at Taylor University. Steve Austin was mentored by Ken Heffner.
In 2005 I had hoped to return to Calvin for the second Festival Of Faith and Music. I was obviously not the Keynote again so the budget didn’t really cover a seminar. I pulled out after my name appeared on the speakers list. A woman from Ohio emailed me to ask if she could meet me at the Festival. I explained that I would not be going but if she knew a College would supplement my flight, and have me speak there too, I might.
Lisa Ho was that woman, part of the Chaplaincy team at Ohio Wesleyan University. She wanted to meet me to discuss a Student trip to Ireland. She immediately found the money and I made my first trip to Delaware, Ohio where almost as soon as I landed I became best friends with Lisa and her husband Lung.
And so, since then, I have been visiting Calvin, Taylor and Delaware very regularly. Ken and Gail at Calvin, Steve as well as Jennifer and Scott Moeschberger at Taylor and Lisa, Lung along with Robb and Julie Morgan at Delaware City Vineyard and Jason and Christian Allison at Terra Nova Church are all people I love spending time with. I find these trips more energising than tiring no matter how much travel there might be.
In the years in between the partnership with these three places has seen students from Calvin, Taylor and OWU coming to Belfast. It has been an enriching experience to plan and speak to such groups. A few years ago I met Hannah Warstler at Taylor and she became an intern at Fitzroy. I am thrilled that I will get to spend some time with Hannah, now Miller, on this trip!
What is so exciting about this year’s trip is that Janice is coming along with me. Janice has never been. While I went off to the States, she stayed home and looked after our daughters. Yes, she has met the Heffners, Hos and Moeschbergers but on this side of the Atlantic. So, I cannot wait for her to sit chatting in the Heffner’s kitchen, play with the Ho children in the Ho’s living room and have an ice cream in Ivanhoes. Even more exciting on this trip is partnering again with an old friend Shane Tucker who lived for a time in N. Ireland and now, what are the chances, lives in Delaware, Ohio!
Here’s a rough itinerary: -
Saturday, November 9th - 6.30 - 9pm CONVERSATIONS IN ART, FAITH AND MUSIC at GATHER (53 N Sandusky St, Delaware, OH 43015) tickets available HERE
Sunday November 10th - 9.15am and again at 11.15am - Preaching on BEING WITH THE OTHER at DELAWARE CITY VINEYARD (32 Troy Rd, Delaware, OH 43015)
Monday November 11th - 10 - 11am - Speaker at TAYLOR CHAPEL- Rediger Chapel Auditorium at the Boren Campus Center, TAYLOR UNIVERSITY, 236 W Reade Ave. Upland, IN 46989
Monday November 11th - THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO… MUMFORD & SONS, KANYE WEST, U2 and OTHER POP STARS - venue and time TBC - TAYLOR UNIVERSITY, 236 W Reade Ave. Upland, IN 46989
Wednesday 13th - 10am - Speaker at CALVIN CHAPEL - Calvin University, 3201 Burton SE, Grand Rapids, Michigan.
There will be other smaller events, meeting Irish teams coming to Ireland, past and future.
If you are anywhere near these venues and fancy coming along to listen or to share a coffee, then message me...