Church isn’t for everyone. Getting up early, singing songs and being preached at may not be your idea of an enjoyable day off. Rev. Deb Conklin of Liberty Park and St. Paul’s United Methodist Churches knows that (she pastors two churches). For many people, including herself, faith grows out of dialogue, not lectures. That’s why last year she started Faith Conversations, a weekly meetup group. It’s held every week at the Lantern Tavern and anyone of any faith can come. Sometimes it’s an intimate meeting, just her and one or two other people, other days a dozen people may pack the tiny bar for this chat. There is no agenda, the conversation can go in any direction. This week, for example, we intended to talk about Rachel Maddow’s “Day of Destruction, Decade of War” program. We chatted briefly about terrorism and the wars that have emerged since Sept. 11. But, as we sipped our brews, we also chatted about our experiences in foreign countries, sexuality, church growth (or lack thereof), education, politics and family. If you’re like me, you’re usually itching to talk about theology but have learned that’s not necessarily what your friends want to converse about on a Friday night. If so, you should join the meetup group and check out Faith Conversations. The group usually meets every Thursday at 7 p.m. However, there won’t be a meeting this week. The next one will be Sept. 15.
Tracy Simmons is an award winning journalist specializing in religion reporting, digital entrepreneurship and social journalism. In her 15 years on the religion beat, Simmons has tucked a notepad in her pocket and found some of her favorite stories aboard cargo ships in New Jersey, on a police chase in Albuquerque, in dusty Texas church bell towers, on the streets of New York and in tent cities in Haiti.
Simmons has worked as a multimedia journalist for newspapers across New Mexico, Texas and Connecticut. Currently she serves as the executive director of SpokaneFAVS.com, a digital journalism start-up covering religion news and commentary in Spokane, Wash. She is also a Scholarly Assistant Professor at Washington State University.