Welcome to Ecumenicon Interfaith Conference. This page covers our early history. If you have specific memories that should be here, please send them to Charles Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org for inclusion. We want our history to be accurate. For 2010 Conference Information go to www.ecumenicon.org/conference/details.
January 1987 – Wilmington, DE. ESOTERICON. Ecumenicon Interfaith Conference began in 1987 as a response to the Esotericon Science Fiction Convention held in Wilmington, Delaware. That conference focused around training in magic and spirituality that was written about in science fiction and fantasy novels and included Jacqueline Lichtenberg, Doug Rosentrater, Katherine Kurtz, and other writers talking about their fiction and the implications it had for the real world.
February 1987 – Laurel, MD. BRAINSTORM. In February of 1987 Charles Butler, Kent Forrester, and Rhomylly Forbes met in Laurel, MD, to discuss starting a response, not as a science fiction convention but as a religious education conference open not only to the classic approaches to faith, but also the new age, reconstructionist, and often misunderstood African diaspora traditions.
January 1988 – Arlington VA. PSYCHIC FAIRS. With the initial aid of the Halpert Family and artist Curtis Winslow, Charles Butler started a private series of Psychic Fairs at the Best Western in Clarendon, Virginia, focused not only on New Age psychics, but also on substantive classes. The merchants quickly learned that people hungered for knowledge. As long as classes were in session, the merchant area was effectively closed. From January to July we held those fairs on the first Saturday of the month and saw the interest grow throughout the Washington region as we were offering solid training as well as consultations.
August 1988 – Arlington, VA. ECUMENICON INTERFAITH CONFERENCE I we had a full conference, using every available classroom. In that first year we touched on Kaballistic Judaism (Jacqueline Lichtenberg), Egyptian Tradition (Renee Anderson), Eastern Traditions (Douglas Rosentrater), Shamanic Traditions (Kestryl Angel), and Christian Mysteries (Katherine Kurtz). The weekend was August 1, chosen because it was Lammas, an ancient Celtic holiday which had been continually celebrated in the British Isles from ancient Pagan times to the present. The conference was very successful, drawing the attention of the Smithsonian (we are listed as a source in the Ancient Mysteries series).
In addition, from the very beginning we reached out to the disabled. We had two Deaf families at our first conference (8 people), so our two ASL interpreters (Charles Butler and Michelle Owings) worked more than 28 hours as volunteers to ensure that the learning was fully transmitted.
March 1989 – Silver Spring, MD. ECUMENICON FELLOWSHIP. After the conference we realized that people did not wish this to be a one-shot conference but an ongoing venture. The more we discussed, the more it became evident that we needed ongoing worship and study as well as conventions. That became the interfaith church Ecumenicon Fellowship founded in March of 1989, a little over two years after the first germ of the idea began. Our first four Trustees were Charles Butler, Sally Byers, Paul Kendrick, and Rosemary Kooiman (now deceased).
July 1989 – College Park, MD. ECUMENICON II – AIR. Guest artist Hannah Shapero. We moved from Arlington to College Park, MD to be able to expand in a hotel that was much more accessible (a flat conference hall with elevators). The cover art struck an interesting balance as it was a picture of the many layers of the atmosphere in yellows, pierced by a jet trail, calling upon technology as well as spirituality as a force for good with a poem dedicated to the F-14 as a familiar animal made of metal. From the very beginning, Ecumenicon has looked to all portions of the human experience as worthy of spiritual development. This year we also added Huna (Hawaiian tradition) to the mix and held our first piece of Sacred Theatre (An original play by Kestryl Angel, Doug Rosentrater, Roberta Klein-Mendelson, and others).
July 1990 – Washington, DC. ECUMENICON III – FIRE. Guest artist Tristan Alexander. We moved from College Park, MD to a college facility. The cover art was a Magician, celebrating the power to will). Our guests included Prem Deben, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and others.
July 1991 – College Park, MD ECUMENICON IV – WATER. Guest artist Persephone. We moved to the University of Maryland. Our guests included Rev. Katherine Kurtz (Christian), Baba George Rawlings (Santeria), and a Hare Krishna Buddhist group. Our opening ceremonies were held in the main Student building on the University of Maryland campus and included a dance invocation to Yemaya by Cantor Rosanna Tufts.
(TO BE CONTINUED)