SAN JOSE, Calif.

Gathered in the heart of Silicon Valley, the participants at this year’s Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE) annual conference are surrounded by the latest technology.

But while technology can help erase miles and speed up communication, it can’t offer the same connections as can be gained by a hug, a smile or shared worship.

The theme of this year’s conference is “connectED,” and the Rev. Barbara J. Essex, a pastor in the United Church of Christ, urged participants to gather to share stories and create memories.

“There are just some things you can’t Google,” she said. “We are gathered around this table to remember, to reconnect.”

Just as Moses invited the Israelites to remember who they were and to whom they belonged during a time of disconnection, we must also remember that any fears or anxieties we have will not last forever, Essex said.

“There is a different outcome possible, she said. “Faith calls out hope, especially in a time and a place where hope seems naïve.”

The event is a time for church educators to talk, fix, write and bind, Essex said. She urged attendees to connect face to face, hand to hand and heart to heart.

“We are called to remember that the Lord is our God and we are God’s people,” she said.