$140 – $160

Upside Down Gathering: Community, Faith, Art + Justice in God's Kingdom

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Wilson Abbey

935 W Wilson Ave

Chicago, IL 60640

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Refund Policy

No Refunds

Event description


On September 21-22, we’ll gather our community of Upside Down Podcast listeners, engaging speakers and creators, authors and artists, believers and doubters at Wilson Abbey in uptown Chicago for the first-ever Upside Down Gathering!


What started as the Upside Down Podcast nearly two years ago has grown into a thriving online community - a group of Christians from across the globe gathering virtually to connect, encourage, and feel a little less alone in our faith. As online connections grew stronger, small groups of listeners began gathering in real life, continuing conversations and growing close to one another and to Jesus.

And now, we’re gathering as a larger group. Because showing up in person is powerful.

We’re gathering to:

  • Prayerfully understand the brokenness of our world and explore Christ’s response to it

  • Dive deep into relationship with one another and with Jesus as we walk this Earth

  • Seek to bring the upside down Kingdom come one degree of glory at a time


  • Live episode recording on Friday night

  • Speaker sessions about justice, faith, and spirituality

  • Upside down workshops + breakouts by award-winning authors, artists, and activists (and maybe some names you don’t know, but we think you should!)

  • Meals together + time for intentional community conversations

  • Ecumenical worship, meditations, and liturgy

  • Ticket for Micah Bournes concert on Saturday night


  • Micah Bournes, poet, artist, and justice-centered musician will lead an intimate session about justice and faith. Like most kids growing up in Long Beach during the 90s, Micah was raised under the influence of hip-hop. He regularly memorized rap lyrics from his favorite songs. Micah is a creative man of faith. In addition to performing poetry and music, he often speaks and teaches on creative writing, pursuing justice, and the way of Jesus. In partnership with World Relief and The Justice Conference, Micah has been able to share his passions and gifts all over the world.

  • Vinita Hampton Wright, senior editor at Loyola Press in Chicago, has been a book editor for twenty-three years. She leads workshops around the country on the creative-spiritual process - The Soul Tells a Story grew out of this work. Her most recent book is The Art of Spiritual Writing: How to Craft Prose That Engages and Inspires Your Readers, based on her many years helping writers express their spiritual wisdom.

  • Dominique DuBois Gilliard, director of Racial Righteousness and Reconciliation for the Love Mercy Do Justice initiative of the Evangelical Covenant Church, is the author of Rethinking Incarceration: Advocating for Justice that Restores. An ordained minister, Gilliard has served in pastoral ministry in Atlanta, Chicago, and Oakland. He earned a bachelor’s degree in African American Studies and History from Georgia State University and a master’s degree in History from East Tennessee State University, with an emphasis on race, gender, and class in the United States. Dominique earned a Master of Divinity degree from North Park Seminary, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor.

  • Sandra Maria Van Opstal, a second-generation Latina, is the Executive Pastor at Grace and Peace Community on the west-side of Chicago. She is a liturgist and activist who is passionate about re-imagining worship that mobilizes for reconciliation and justice. Sandra’s influence has also reached many others through her leadership and preaching on topics such of justice, poverty, racism, racial identity, reconciliation, and global mission. She has been featured at Wheaton College, North Park University, The Justice Conference, Evangelical Covenant conferences, Willow Creek Association conferences, and various churches. Sandra serves as a board member for Evangelicals for Justice and the Christian Community Development Association.

We’re intentionally cultivating a gathering that equips you as well as gives you space for connection, and maybe even rest your weary soul.


Upside Down Gathering Schedule (Tentative + Subject to Change)
Welcome // Prayer 5 p.m.
Catered Dinner - 5:30 - 7
Opening Session - Live Recording of Upside Down Podcast - 7:15 - 8:15
Coffee + Desserts with Shine Village Initiative - 8:30 - 9:30
Worship - 9:30 - 10

Yoga/Guided Meditation/Prayer Journaling/Book Club - 7 - 7:30
Coffee + Breakfast - 8 - 8:45
Worship - 8:45 - 9:15
SPEAKER - Micah Bournes/Fighting Evil with Poetry: The Creative Life in Justice Work - 9:15 - 10:15
Community Guided Conversation based on Micah's presentation - 10:30 - 11:15
Catered Lunch with Preemptive Love - 11:30 - 1 pm
SPEAKER - Vinita Hampton Wright/The Soul Tells a Story 1:15 - 2:15
Fellowship/Guided Conversation based on Vinita's session - 2:30 - 3:15
Breakouts - 3:30 - 4:30 // Aundi Kolber - Theater // Diana - Auditorium // Tammy Perlmutter- Conference Room
SPEAKER - Sandra Van Opstal/Immigration/Proximity - 4:45 - 5:45
Break/Dinner on your own - 5:45 - 7:45
SPEAKER - Dominique Gilliard/Solidarity - 7:45 - 8:45
Micah Bournes Concert - 9:00 p.m.

Uptown Church Sunday service at Wilson Abbey begins at 10 a.m.


When is the Upside Down Gathering?

September 21-22, 2018. Registration will open Friday afternoon at 3 p.m. and we’ll end Saturday night with a Micah Bournes concert. Everyone is invited to attend Uptown Church’s Sunday morning service at 10 a.m. in the Wilson Abbey if your travel plans allow it.

Where is the Upside Down Gathering?

The Upside Down Gathering will take place at the Wilson Abbey, 931 W. Wilson Ave., Chicago, IL 60640.

What is included in ticket price?

The ticket price includes a live podcast recording, speaker sessions, workshops and breakouts, dinner together on Friday, light breakfast and coffee on Saturday, a concert, and more!

How can I connect with other attendees?

You can connect with other attendees in the private Upside Down Gathering Facebook group. We suggest connecting there for ride-sharing, roommate connections, and more.

What does “Ticket with Lodging Included” mean?

For Friday and Saturday night lodging, JPUSA has graciously offered 24 dormitory style bunk-bed spaces. These are available first come, first serve and you’ll need to choose this option when purchasing your ticket. For planning purposes, these are only available to adult female attendees. The beds are in four different rooms, with three shared bathrooms/showers. There’s also a shared living room space as well as an enclosed porch. If you’re staying in the dormitory housing, you’ll need to bring your own bedding and towels. Everyone is invited to attend Uptown Church’s Sunday morning service at 10 a.m. in the Wilson Abbey if your travel plans allow it.

Where else can I stay?

You have several options available for accomodations.

  • The Chicago Getaway Hostel is a ten-minute drive.

  • There is an abundance of Airbnb options in the area. If you’ve never stayed in an Airbnb, use Lindsy’s referral link for a $40 travel credit! (And she’ll get a $20 credit, too.)

  • We have a Chicago Street Team willing to host attendees. To connect with one of these gracious folks, please email us at upsidedownpodcast@gmail.com with the subject HOST HOME.

Who is speaking?

Upside Down Podcast co-hosts Kayla Craig, Lindsy Wallace, and Shannon Evans will record a special live podcast conversation and we’ll hear from spoken word poet, speaker, and teacher Micah Bournes, author and speaker Vinita Hampton Wright. We’re securing exciting additional speakers and presenters, so check back for an up-to-date list and more information on our speakers and presenters.

Where can I eat lunch and dinner on Saturday?

The Wilson Abbey is connected to Everybody’s Coffee, which has grab and go sandwiches, pastries, and more, handmade by Baker Miller, which mills stone-ground, organic, non-GMO grains locally sourced in the Midwest.

Other close by options include:

Wabi Sabi
Uptown Pizza and BBQ
Futatsuki Ramen
Palla’s Grill

What if I have dietary restrictions?

Please let us know of your dietary restrictions when purchasing your ticket and we will do our best to accommodate you. If we cannot accommodate your restrictions, we will be sure to communicate ahead of time so you can plan accordingly. The Wilson Abbey is conveniently located across the street from a small Shop & Save, containing some produce and grab-and-go items. Just a few short blocks away is an Aldi, a Target, and the local grocery store chain, Jewel, with a specific aisle dedicated to allergen-free food options.

Are children welcome?

Nursing babies and teenagers are welcome.

Who is this event for?

You! This event is open to the public and open to anyone on a faith journey. Men and women are welcome.

What should I bring?

Please bring a refillable water bottle. We also recommend bringing a journal and a phone charger. If you’re staying in the dormitory housing, you’ll need to bring your own bedding and towels.

Where do I park?

Most surrounding streets are permit parking only. If you decide to street park, do so at your own risk of strict Chicago ticketing laws and read all signs carefully. Parking is available in the garage at Weiss Hospital. Public parking rates are as follows $8 for 1 - 3 hours, $10 for 3 - 5 hours, and $12 for 5 - 24 hours. Park only on the 3rd or 4th level. There are also great apps like Spot Hero and BestParking that help you find affordable nearby parking spots.

4650 N Clarendon Ave, Chicago, IL 60640


Is the Gathering handicap accessible?

Yes! Every space in the Wilson Abbey is handicap accessible.

How do I register?

You can register on Eventbrite.

What is the refund policy?

We’re unable to be offer refunds but you can transfer your ticket to another person. Please email is at upsidedownpodcast@gmail.com with the subject GATHERING TRANSFER if you need to do so.

How can I donate?

Thanks for asking! You can make a financial contribution to the Upside Down Gathering here. You can also designate a scholarship donation when you purchase your ticket. Thank you for helping us keep this event affordable and open to all!

Can I volunteer?

If you’d like to volunteer at the Gathering please email us at upsidedownpodcast@gmail.com with the subject line GATHERING VOLUNTEER and we will be in touch.

I’m flying to the Gathering. Which airports should I use?

Two international airports O'Hare and Midway have approximately 1,450 daily direct flights to more than 245 destinations, which makes Chicago accessible to the world.

How can I apply for a scholarship?

Please email us at upsidedownpodcast@gmail.com with the subject SCHOLARSHIP and we will be in touch as scholarships become available.

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Date and Time


Wilson Abbey

935 W Wilson Ave

Chicago, IL 60640

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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