Divine Rhythm moved from its country music setting of recent years to a hotel convention center in Pigeon Forge, reducing expenses and securing a more convenient, "intimate" location.
The relocation of Holston's annual spiritual weekend for young adults -- from County Tonite Theater to Ramada Inn's Smoky Mountain Convention Center -- didn't seem to hurt or help participation. About 540 attended the Jan. 28-30 event, compared with 564 in 2010 and 770 in 2009. Divine Rhythm was begun for adults ages 18 to 35 in January 2001.
This year's speaker was Bishop Sally Dyck, resident bishop of the Minnesota Annual Conference, who addressed relationships and forgiveness on Saturday morning.
"If you're going to have complicated relationships, you're going to have to work on forgiveness," she said. "If we don't forgive, it's sort of like a backed-up sewer in your heart. The beautiful, wonderful soul that you have is being filled up with all that stuff. If you don't forgive, who do you think suffers?"
On Saturday night, Dyck's message was, "Authenticity: Become What You Believe."
"The Bishop said that God calls us to be odd," said Kayla Benner, 21, who attended with the East Tennessee State University's Wesley Foundation. "She talked about Romans 12:2: 'Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.' We are all special in our own way and God loves each and every one of us."
Dyck also led a break-out group on the book, "A Hopeful Earth: Faith, Science, and the Message of Jesus," co-authored with her niece Sarah Ehrman. Participants discussed how their congregations are sometimes unwilling to spend more money on re-chargeable batteries or dispense with the convenience of styrofoam cups, despite vows to practice good stewardship.
Worship and music was again led by Atlanta-based Casey Darnell. A worship arts session was led by the Rev. Eric Doolittle, design team member and pastor at Harrogate Circuit, Oak Ridge District.
A highlight was public service announcement videos created and produced by the design team -- like the blood-drive promo, "Just Give Your Life," a take-off from Rhianna and T.I. Cliff's "Just Live Your Life." The video featured Cliff Andrews of ETSU and Kate Meacham of First Oak Ridge UMC, with videography by Matt Park of ETSU.
Forty participants responded by donating blood at the Medic van parked outside the convention center. They also donated 172 jars of peanut butter and 35 coats to the homeless and hungry served by First Gatlinburg UMC. An offering of $2,195 was taken for UMCOR's Nashville flood relief.
Some participants said they liked the new location because their hotel rooms were within short walking distance of the convention center. Others lodged in more distant hotels or in rental cabins.
"The new set-up was really pretty neat," said Meacham, referring to the large convention center room where sessions were held. "I'm not sure how we'll fit more people in next year -- it seemed pretty 'at capacity.' But I think the venue was great and lent to a more intimate setting."
The design team announced plans to return to the Ramada site in 2012.
- "Divine Rhythm leaves home, stretches legs in Pigeon Forge" (The Call, Feb. 11, 2005)