Sometimes ministers need to laugh together. 

Clergy members from several denominations did just that during a recent ecumenical-led virtual gathering to celebrate the first calendar year of the COVID-19 pandemic nearing its close.

“It was so amazing to goof around with church planters,” said the Rev. Chris Davies, leader of the United Church of Christ’s (UCC) Faith Education, Innovation and Formation Team.

She was describing the Founders’ Festival which attracted 89 participants from six denominations (CCDOC, UCC, Presbyterian Church in Canada, Presbyterian Church (USA), United Church of Canada and United Methodist Church and others) via Zoom on December 3rd.

‘’’Founders’ Fest’ was “purely for celebration of what has been a difficult year,” Davies said. Billed as an evening of “laughter, music, games and shenanigans,” it invited participants to “take a break from planning, preaching and pandemic to party with your pals.” 

“I can’t remember having more fun in a Zoom meeting! I love church planters. It was an honor to appreciate their hard work in a fun way. Thank you to my ecumenical siblings,” adds Pastor Terrell L McTyer.

Founders’ Festival 2020 was organized by Ecumenical Partners in Outreach (EPO), a network of church-starting specialists from eight – and sometimes more – North American denominations. 

EPO wanted to acknowledge church planters and provide them with a space to just be. There was no learning content, just games and fun with new friends.

A UCC minister and comedian, Rev Liz Miller of Edgewood United Church, Lansing, Mich., served as emcee.

“This was the most engaging and welcoming Zoom party I’ve ever attended,” said the Rev. Rachel Gilmore of the staff of Path 1, the Methodists’ church planting project. “It was wonderful to see church planters come together for a time of laugher and camaraderie, to be reminded that we are not alone in this holy and hard work.”  


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