European Kinship Meeting Report
by Ellen Henderson
This year’s European Kinship Meeting (EKM) was held about an hour and a half outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands from September 2 to 6, 2021. EKM was made possible by the leadership and coordination of Ruud Kieboom and the financial support of an anonymous donor.
Cookies, late-night talks, and chosen family: this is what European Kinship Meeting (EKM) meant to me.
As someone who isn’t out to most of my family, many of my friends, or at work, it’s hard to find space to be my authentic self. So, in the midst of a pandemic, I made the crazy decision to meet my fellow Kinship members in Europe at EKM. As an American, I worried that I was encroaching on their territory, but everyone welcomed me warmly. I felt like I had found another family.
It was cozy. We stayed together at a conference center and shared meals in between meeting times. Our guest speaker introduced us to the idea of “Queering the Bible,” and we took another look at several Bible stories. We welcomed the Sabbath with praise and song. We were even blessed to have communion.
We spent a day at nearby Hertogenbosch. Wandering the cobblestone streets, we explored parks and Saint John’s Cathedral, tried local desserts, and shopped. It was a beautiful city.
The best part of any Kinship Kampmeeting is the conversations—those soul-sharing, heart-rending stories we told each other, knowing that we were fully understood and loved. It’s incredibly freeing to be in such a warm, lovely, safe space.
Personally, I had the time of my life, but I’ll let other attendees tell you what they thought:
What attendees had to say:
“To me, it was like meeting/seeing extended family even though I didn’t know most of the attendees before. Everyone just embraced us with warm hugs and showered us in love! It was such a great experience and so incredible that age didn’t matter at all, everybody had something to contribute to the conversation.”
“All the singing was a treat and a gift.”
“Young faces! An inspiration and proof for me to continue Kinship efforts.”
“I liked that there were more people around my age and that we started a WhatsApp group (for youth under 35 years old). Now I can connect with other young Kinship members in Europe.”
“I loved seeing friends face to face again and experiencing the amazing hospitality of the Netherlands. I loved meeting folks whose pictures I have seen for years. I loved the speaker’s presentations as well as everyone else's. I was blessed just spending time with great people. I miss everyone!”
“Hearing how queer the Bible can be read surprised me.”
“I loved seeing familiar faces in person and making new friends. I enjoyed the late-night talks when I could stay awake. The speaker’s presentations helped my process of deconstructing and reconstructing. The conference center was spacious and peaceful with lots of good walking trails and delicious food. And, of course, I loved the singing!”
“I loved the setting. It had many nice places to find and meet and sit together.”
“I enjoyed looking at familiar Bible stories and verses through a new lens, making them even more relatable for me.”
“I loved the conversations around the tables during mealtimes and reconnecting with friends. Great to see new faces to add to our Kinship Europe family. I’m glad that (former SDA Kinship President) Yolanda was able to be part of EKM and experience Kinship in another country and setting.”
“Visiting Den Bosch (the city's Hertogenbosch) and exploring it with the group was a lot of fun; and, while sitting on the lawn, I enjoyed the conversations, touching on a variety of topics.”
“I loved the speaker’s rainbow shoes and socks.”