Organizers of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Big Tent event are telling participants, and those not yet registered, to expect something entirely different at the upcoming July 30 – Aug. 1 event to be held on the campus of the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

“One difference from the past is that instead of being a conference of conferences—10 in one location—this Big Tent will bring these ministries together around the single theme of being a missional church,” says Thomas D. Hay, director of assembly operations in the PC(USA) Office of the General Assembly. “Leadership from these distinct ministries will be in attendance along with their passion for evangelism, [the leadership of] ruling elders and world missions that characterized the individual conferences.”

The event is also the first Big Tent gathering to be held on a university campus instead of a hotel or conference center. While reducing overall cost of the conference and offering a new experience, organizers promise lots of exercise and travel around campus for attendees.

A focus on mission has shaped the agenda of Big Tent in 2015. Inviting participants from across the PC(USA), Hay believes an alignment to the missional theme will unite the best of the church’s thought leaders and practitioners for this goal.

“Celebrating this unity in diversity, the conference focus has moved to keynotes by principle speakers and preachers,” he said. “Laurene Chan, director of youth ministries at the Cameron House in San Francisco; Jana Childers, professor of homiletics at San Francisco Seminary; and Paul Roberts, president of Johnson C. Smith Seminary are the featured preachers.”

The 2015 event will feature its first all-attendee Bible study with Kang Yup Na, a scholar from Westminster College who will lead an examination of Luke 15. Nationally known speaker and author of “A Nun on the Bus”, Sister Simone Campbell, will address the ministries of poverty and hunger. Roger Nishioka and Scott Weimer, both of Atlanta, are featured speakers on ministries of discipleship and advocacy respectively.

Early-bird registration, which includes three nights of on-campus lodging and seven meals, is set at $395 and ends June 19, 2015. Registration increases to $450 per person following this deadline.

A detailed schedule of events, including pre-conference events, is available online as is a general information and registration guide.

In the coming weeks Presbyterian News Service will provide continuing updates on Big Tent 2015 [PH1] and feature interviews with selected speakers including Sister Simone Campbell; former YAV, The Accidental Missionary blogger and author Scott Dannemiller; and Bri Payne, executive director of the John Knox Camp and Conference Center; along with other speakers and presenters.