I can't believe another year has passed into history. It's been an incredibly busy twelve months, full of milestones and new ventures, for me and my family. This brief update will give you a little idea in words and images, what we've been up to this year.
Urban life is a little insane. There is always too much happening in too little time and space, but we can never complain of boredom. Elysabeth made an enormously courageous decision to start a new career this year. She is currently enrolled in the Vidal Sassoon Academy in Santa Monica. She began the one year program in September and is looking forward to putting her considerable artistic ability to work styling hair. In February she also had a solo exhibit of her new paintings in Silver Lake. You can see her paintings here, and even purchase one!
Zoe started 6th grade this year in a new school - Renaissance Arts Academy - where in addition to her regular studies she is studying modern dance. On June 4th I had the amazing privilege of baptizing Zoe!
Sophie started 3rd grade this year at Franklin Elementary where she's been since Kindergarden and excelling in all her subjects! After school she continues to learn the piano.
My ministry at the Hollywood Adventist Church is as rewarding as ever. This year we had the remarkable experience of partnering with a dozen or more Muslims from the nearby Islamic Center of Southern California and having some inspiring conversations about our respective faiths. On the 10th Anniversary of September 11 we had the privilege of hosting Imam Jihad Turk, from the Islamic Center, to speak about peacemaking in our world.
Our work with the PICO National Network and our local affiliate, LA Voice, continues with renewed energy. We have worked hard this year to pass the Responsible Banking Ordinance in the City of Los Angeles and we are very close to victory. In November I attended the first PICO Clergy Gathering with 500 clergy from around the country. We gathered in New Orleans to deepen our relationships and solidify our commitment to creating a just economy in our country. I had the privilege of speaking to this group on the final morning. The transcript of my talk will soon be available on the PICO website.
I've also had some pretty big milestones in my life this year. In June I graduated from Fuller Theological Seminary with my D.Min. in Missional Leadership. It was wonderful to have my family and friends celebrate this with me. This might just be the last of my formal education. Maybe.
In September I started teaching as an Adjunct Professor in the Global Studies Department at Azusa Pacific University. This Fall I taught two sections of an undergraduate course in Intercultural Communication. This is my first foray into teaching at the undergraduate level and I've learned that I really enjoy it! Spring semester is just around the corner.
This year was also characterized by more travel than usual. Elysabeth and I finally went on a proper vacation. In August we celebrated our 15th anniversary by spending a relaxing week in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, just the two of us!
In the Spring I spent nearly a month traveling internationally. I began in Melbourne, Australia (my second time in Australia but my first time in Melbourne) where I spoke for a week at Victoria Conference Big Camp. It was so much fun to catch up with my friend, Nathan Brown, this time on his turf. I also made so many other new friends including Moe Ioane Stiles, Russ and Elisa Fox, and Carlie Dunn!
From Australia I traveled directly to Mombassa, Kenya for the Amahoro Conference. This was my second time in Africa but my first time in East Africa so I the privilege of doing a mini-safari for half a day. It was my first time doing anything like that.
From Kenya I traveled with my dear friends David & Sydneyann Shook and David’s parents, Mark and Laura Shook, to Bujumbura, Burundi where I spent four days visiting some of the ministries that David and Syd have nurtured for the past several years, working with Claude and Kelley Nikondeha who are the leaders in Burundi. It was a life changing experience. I can’t wait to return someday soon!
This past year I also launched a new book review website, along with my friend Syd, called The Hillhurst Review. We launched the site with an incredible interview with Nobel nominated doctor and peacemaker, Izzeldin Abuelaish. Watch for much more this coming year, beginning with an interview with Tom Wright which will be published next week.
I’ve also had the privilege of writing more frequently for The Huffington Post and plan to do a lot more of that this year, as well.