A society of Pentecostals

Last Wednesday I flew out to Durham, North Carolina to attend the Society of Pentecostal Studies annual meeting. Though there was wireless in my hotel room and at the conference I didn’t check in here. I guess it’s the same part of me that tends not to take pictures at big events. I want to enjoy the moment, be in the moment, rather than be thinking how to document the moment.

I guess it’s another sign that I studied history rather than journalism in college.

That being the case, now that the trip is in the past I can begin to document the goings on.

My dad took me to the airport early on Wednesday morning, on his way to work. Which was nice, though his work and my flight time didn’t exactly match up. I got there round about 7. My flight took off at 11:40. Plenty of time to get to know the Ontario International Airport. I walked for long while. And I read for a long while, read a book I was hoping to re-prime me for theological conversation. It certainly did. The Holy Spirit in the World is a wonderful, wonderful book, though very dense, and got my brain moving again. It even ignited thoughts about new trails of study.

The time went by fairly quickly. Hardly felt like a wait at all. I boarded my flight, a very new Delta 757, and had a 4 hour ride to Atlanta, in which I mostly read some more, listened to a lot of classical music, as well as one of my favorite people in the world.

Landed, then I had to go from one side of Atlanta to the other for my next flight. Well, one side of the airport to another, Terminal A to E, which involved a mile+ walk and riding a train for ten minutes. Then onward to the Raleigh/Durham airport. Totally uneventful, entirely full, flight.

Landed. Was picked up by my good friend Maria, who used to be a SoCal resident before finishing up her degree at Fuller and wandering over to see what kind of extra education she can pick up at Duke. We first met at the church I used to go to/work at, and had good long conversations about very intellectual things as well as less intellectual things. She was, without a doubt, one of my earliest and most encouraging cheerleaders when I began my writing in 2003. That she’s brilliant and exceedingly well read with a superior grasp of English (despite being born and raised in Austria) made the encouragement all the more encouraging. So it was nice to see her. And not have to walk to the hotel.

She made me a turkey sandwich, because it was late and she thought I would be hungry. I didn’t know I was, but it turned out I was more hungry than I knew.

Got to my Quality Inns and Suites, right next door to the Durham Hilton, checked into room 103 and proceeded to immediately not fall asleep. Sure it might be 10:30 local time, but it was just starting out the evening in my time. Add the fact I was really suffering from a cold and a bad cough… well, I didn’t get to sleep until around 1.

Woke up wide awake at 6. Round about 7:30 I walked over to the Hilton, checked into the conference, opened my little packet of materials and was happy to see me staring back. A flier on It’s a Dance was included. Made me smile. I also got a couple of free books, which occupied my time until the shuttle came to take folks to Duke. Sat next to one of the main organizers of the conference, though I wasn’t aware of it at the time, not until he stood up at the main session that evening.

Did I say I’ve not been real involved in academia for a while and don’t really know anyone?

A new session had been added at the last minute. I decided to go. The Rev. Eusebius Stephanou spoke on his charismatic conversion in the early 60s and his subsequent ministry within the Eastern Orthodox church for the last forty years.

My thoughts on that will be in the next post.

Oh, and I forgot to mention. The night before my flight to the conference I got some nice news which helped my attendance take on more substantive meaning. I got a note from Dr. Veli-Matti Kärkkäinen that I had been accepted as his PhD student at Fuller Theological seminary beginning this Fall, and more that I had been awarded by the School of Theology a scholarship that entirely pays my tuition.

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