Watching The Well come to be after all the planning and work is miraculous in my eyes. As a leadership team, we knew God was up to something big by the way challenges were thrown at us from every direction. We believed God in what our call was for the ministry given to us and we were not disappointed. God’s glory shines brightly through all who were there. The perfume of peace was inhaled, and the endless joy embraced. Through the many trials and tears we experienced what God had planned all along … to equip, network, and refresh his creatives to do powerful work for the kingdom. This was all covered in prayer many months ago by our leadership team including Chaplain Jim Chapin who prayed for each individual by name before, during, and after the conference.
Thursday’s pre-conference sessions started everyone off with an opportunity to dig deeper in a focus area of their creativity. Marnie Swedberg taught Success Principles Intensive, Tammy Whitehurst led From the Page to the Stage, and Kim de Blecourt and I led the Book Proposal Studio. Each session brought wonderful insight and direction in continuing the participants’ creative journey. Afterwards, a wonderful dinner (special thanks to Monica Guthrie and her team for serving us throughout the conference), worship music with Tiffany Senabandith and her team gathered our spirits to a special place where God met us, and then a fun time of laughter with Tammy Whitehurst speaking to the crowd.
Friday happened soon afterwards, and everyone was eager to get started on their day. As more creatives walked in to register, they were given a very impressive looking program, their name badge, and a goody bag that held a lot. When convenient, creatives would wander to the café area to sign up for one-on-one meetings with faculty. These 15-minute valuable meetings created inspiration for many, answers to dreams for some, and advice that was priceless.
The worship team with leaders Tiffany and Pastor Tito Venegas along with their talented team brought people into the throne room. Pastor Amy Klanderman shared God’s Word and thoughts to get us all ready for the day. This was followed by a wonderful time of remembrance of Linda Olson who was scheduled to be at The Well but passed away from pneumonia the day of her 70th birthday. We were saddened by the loss but glad for her in being with Jesus her Lord. We all enjoyed the video of Linda’s TED Talk and were inspired by her message for us all.
The three directors, Gene Koon, Victoria Chapin, and I, gave announcements and giveaways (thank you to all who donated for this) throughout the conference. We at The Well love giving prizes and deals. This year’s big deal was The Well baseball caps, $199 registration for next year’s conference for those at The Well during the conference, and other great deals found in the bookstore run by our awesome bookstore manager Carol Graft.
The breakouts were amazing! Think about it … there were classes for writers, speakers, actors, artists, and more. What’s great is that attendees mostly did not stay in just one track but tried many tracks because they are creative and need to try new things. Creatives mingling, sharing dreams and aspirations, all being led on a journey by the same God. Wondrous things can and did happen.
After the morning breakouts and a wonderful lunch, we heard from James Watkins in a special keynote address regarding mental illness that was eye-opening and encouraging to many. We were all blessed to hear words of wisdom and experience from our keynotes Michelle Medlock Adams and Jason Campbell. Jason is the President of JCFilms, a ministry focused on bringing the gospel to all using movies. Big names like Dean Cain (Superman), Kevin Sorbo (God’s Not Dead), and others use their creative gifts to make these movies for God’s glory. Jason brought his Film Festival to The Well. God did an amazing thing through this with Jason’s decision to create a studio in Grand Rapids and choosing two people (one an attendee/worship leader and the other on staff) to be the directors. Congratulations to Andrew Hamlet and Charly Pena!
Friday night excitement included the Celebration of the Arts where both attendees and faculty were able to share their talents on the stage for their creative peers to enjoy. So much love and support was given to each who demonstrated what God was doing through them. We celebrated afterwards with a coffee and dessert (cheesecake … YUM!) reception.
For the hearty souls who needed more that day. Night Owls started shortly after with Jason Campbell holding a Q&A session, Painting with Papa led by Tracy Belanger, and Worship and Prayer Warfare for your Destiny with our chaplain Jim Chapin. Each was well attended and then it was time for some shut eye.
Saturday morning (the last day already?) started with worship with the praise team and a roomful of creatives excited about what God was doing through them. It was awesome! At the closing winners were announced for the Oasis Awards which were very exciting. First place winners won a $500 package towards publication with The Well Publishers. EA Publishing also had winners for their anthology contest. Pastor Amy closed us with a powerful message on NOW is the time: Never-ending Overflowing Water. Thank you, Jesus, for being that water that sustains us helps us soar to new levels of our creative journey.
We couldn’t do this without the support of our wonderful sponsors. I am so grateful for them all. Some chose to speak during a meal and share their ministry/business and why they support The Well. Laura DeGroot introduced each sponsor with interesting facts about them … some were even true.
God pulled together an awesome team for The Well 2022 and I thank them all from the bottom of my heart. Each person showed the love, peace, and joy of Jesus, and that’s a scent that is undeniable when you experience it. Praise God!