WHO Koinonia: Mars Hill, Klemmer, and Adulthood

Leading up to WHO Koinonia:

Preparations for WHO Koinonia were underway months before the event happened.  Hours of research, consulting experienced friends,  and setup went into making sure this monumental gathering had the biggest reach possible.   Yet days before, I was questioning if I would even be able to make it.

Following our second miscarriage and a lot of doctor appointments, my time had come for surgery to remove the septum (extra wall) in my uterus.  This was just a month before our Koinonia event, with a mountain of logistics to still sort out in preparation.  I managed to catch a cold just days before the surgery and felt better the day of, but in the days after that I had to just rest… a cough settled into my lungs.  Coughing so much junk out only exasperated my lungs, and the parts that were healing.  When the junk finally left, I was still battling a tightness just between my lungs and my throat that would not release.  Finally I went to see a doctor about it.

At the same time I was headed to the doctor, Matt was getting help from Les (a father we adopted) to fix the ongoing plumbing saga.  I was quite happy to leave the guys and go to the doctor myself because the house issues really needed to be resolved quickly.  In the moment of need, someone was there and ready to help.

The doctor sent me home with a strong mix of meds, and an order to get an x-ray stat to check for pneumonia.  Thankfully, I didn’t have pneumonia but the situation remained serious.  And, Koinonia was just days away. And all of the new gear was needing attention. And, all of the social media needed attention to keep the momentum growing and people connecting.  And, my house needed to be cleaned. And we needed the staple groceries. And I have a backlog of clients needing me to start their projects…. AND AND AND!

The day before the event I spent a full twelve hours sorting out why the video resolution looked squished and getting the computer we need for the broadcast set up.  I found a way to fix the problem most of the way, but the last few steps simply wouldn’t go away.  The top 10% of the video was looping back around to the bottom of the screen and nothing was working.  I gave up. I went home to sleep.  Then, I came in Friday morning and it just worked.  I don’t know what God was doing while I slept – but clearly things finally worked. YAY!

WHO Koinonia 2014

Koinonia defined:

Koinonia: fellowship, association, community, communion, joint participation, intercourse

  1. the share which one has in anything, participation
  2. intercourse, fellowship, intimacy
    1. the right hand as a sign and pledge of fellowship (in fulfilling the apostolic office)
  3. a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, as exhibiting an embodiment and proof of fellowship

They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship (koinonia), to the breaking of bread and to prayer. ~Acts 2:42

During WHO Koinonia:

Throughout the weekend, I was constantly amazed at how each person played their part.  The weekend gathering was not about anyone else creating the program, but each person having an opportunity to do exactly what God had called them to do in that moment.  If they were to share a word, the didn’t hold back.  Singers that often are more bashful were leading out with all of their breath.  Dancers were uninhibited.  People shared words with each other.  Everyone was valued and had a choice to step in and share with each other all of who they are.

Where had I last experienced this?  Oh – right… as a teenager at Mars Hill.

Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted

Mars Hill:

Mars Hill – something that forever changed the lives of those involved.  Mars Hill is how I got to World Harvest Outreach.  I was on the worship team and we were invited to lead worship while WHO met in a small room at Shalom Christian Academy.  I came in with my mandolin and violin, only to realize that I was a week early, but realized this group was home and came back ever since.


Mars Hill was a youth ministry comprised of the kids that didn’t fit in elsewhere.  We were the punks before punk was cool. Many were kids that wouldn’t step foot in a church or weren’t fitting in with the youth groups that their church offered.

“Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted”

Our motto was “Mars Hill: Where You Are Accepted”.  Truly it fit our group.  People that visited knew that they were welcome to join in this crazy ADHD-led madness and that they mattered.

The name Mars Hill comes from Acts 17.  Paul went to a place named Mars Hill to share about Jesus.  This location is where people went to honor gods, including one shrine to an unknown God.  Paul couldn’t help but say – let me tell you about this unknown God.  Mars Hill in the late 90s in Chambersburg was a place that youth came and learned about the unknown God.

Our normal schedule was large-group Sunday where worship blew us away and a short message often involved a lot of interaction.  Thursdays was Bible Study and/or small groups, and Friday’s we often had a show.  Bands from all around would come to play.  The Christian music scene was thriving, and we hosted bands that are still huge today. At any point, if people felt led by the Lord they would share what they have.  We took communion with water from the fountain on the square, prayed for each other as soon as the need arose, and most often practiced the singing of psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to one another.

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When we weren’t at organized events, we would still always be together.  After spending hours and hours together, we couldn’t get enough of each other.  We’d go to the Yeager’s for midnight milkshakes and ziplining, camp with Geoff, visit other venues for their shows (The Cave, Cafe Beracah, and Javacasa were common.)  Not everyone always gelled together, but it wasn’t a dividing factor among the group.  We were a huge family.  We helped each other with whatever we could.  We lived in a state of koinonia for several years.  His banner over us, is love love love…..(a rare recording of us from that season)



Then, we grew up… we drifted.  We went off to college, moved out of this town, decided Jesus wasn’t our priority, questioned our faith, joined in with other fellowship…. koinonia among this group had faded.

Yet – when I run in to friends from that season… there is often an implicit trust.  I still know them, though I may have been out of the loop on the last few years of life.  Should they need help, I’m still here to jump in.

Years before the Frey’s moved back to Chambersburg, their mom’s house burned.  I saw a tweet asking for help moving furniture and jumped in.  I barely knew them at that point… but having known Matt & David closely for years… I knew I needed to be there and help, even if it was just to drive a couch across town.

When Travis resurfaced in my life, I knew I wanted to coordinate with him on WHO a/v gear and that he was trustworthy.

Devin & Denver’s love for some good hard rock was so clearly and beautifully released during Saturday night’s worship. I need to experience more of that.

Seeing the bopping Brookens kids always calls to mind the time when Jason played drums for Carissa’s wedding.

When the Kudasik’s moved back to the area… I was elated to say hi.  It’s still on my radar to do much more than that with these good folks, but I am excited that they are even nearby. When  I see others of us from that season around town, I am just as excited to get a look into their lives now.

The Nance’s, who were the first couple married at the warehouse… came in for just a pivotal moment as we renew our vision for the name “World HARVEST Outreach” and the seeds planted in the early years coming to harvest.  They were such a part at WHO and Mars Hill.  I am so excited for them to have been with us for the event, but also just to have had a few minutes to talk with their awesome little men about the flags around the room.

We are now nearly 15 years past the end of the organization that was Mars Hill, but our lives are still joined together. Those that I wasn’t personally close to are still important to me.  I’d still want to help them in whatever way I can.  This was my koinonia of my carefree youth.

Now – we’ve grown up.  We have a whole different amount of relationships.  I spoke with the Kesslers and Frey’s about this at the Roat’s house about a year ago.  How do we do life like we did then but with adult responsibility?  We do Koinonia together.  We get together just to watch a football game or movies.   We bring meals for people. We make opportunities to be together.  In our times together, we honor what God is doing in and through each other. We see who He has called each person to be and seek out the greatness in them. We make a space for each other to be a part.  We have lots of chances for that in our daily lives, and in the semi-organized happenings at the warehouse.  There’s no stress in saying no, or obligation to always say yes.  It’s a chance to be together. Come join in as and when you can.

Any Mars Hill alum that has wondered where to find that family fellowship… come join in with us.  We are not reliving our past glory days, but are doing life together today. I’ve longed for it since I left for college and feel more alive now than I have since those crazy summer nights of getting kicked out of Taco Bell and Coldbrook Elementary school.

Klemmer & Associates:

About 10 years ago, a group of WHO leaders hosted a few events in Chambersburg related to personal development.  Again, there is a common thread in this.  Those that went through the programs have a deep and common understanding. Years can go by, and with just a subtle reference to something we experienced then can inspire deep insight into a current situation.

I won’t give out too many of the details of what we experienced through The Quickening, Advanced Leadership Seminar, or Heart of the Samurai because I want you to have your own experience.  I will say, the WHO Core gathering where I led an activity was very much a part of that program.  It led up to WHO Koinonia event in helping us see what part we each play in a larger body and that every voice matters.  We know now that we might see something and need to go to great lengths to share that effectively, or sometimes it just comes easily.

I’ve seen a few friends that went through this program resurface in our group lately.  Bold actions they took in the context of personal development workshops came to pass again throughout the Koinonia event, but now carry a context beyond the events themselves. They stepped up and let what has been dormant come to life.  There is an awakening to go all out in our worship to go, no matter how graceful your dance may be.

The mission of Klemmer & Associates Leadership Seminars, Inc is to create bold ethical leaders who will create a world that works for everyone with no one left out.

This leadership program fostered a common sense of experience, trust, and a challenge to let our greatness out.  Think about that… works for everyone… no one left out.

Courtney Engle Robertson during Klemmers Advanced Leadership Seminar

Our Koinonia gathering was an opportunity for each person to have their own experience, but also to participate in something for everyone physically present, joining us online from miles away, or those that are catching it as a replay later.  God was working every detail together for His good purpose.  No one was left out.  People realized they had a choice to stay in this moment and participate or to disconnect with any distraction they may have.  But, it was clear that no one would be left out unless they chose to be.  There was no forcing of a schedule or agenda.  In fact, it was the opposite.  We want to have everyone all in – one family with one heart while we each fit together to make up the whole.  We give and help one another as we see the need.

Post Koinonia Event:

At the end of the weekend, people didn’t want to go home. They wanted to remain all together.  When they finally found their way back to the comfort of their homes, they continued the connection with many text messages sent and a fury of Facebook activity related to still sharing in their experiences from the weekend.

In my own home and in the larger body of believers, we are making a space to do life together more.  We open ourselves to each other, and we jump in to help each other in whatever way is needed.

We are forever changed.  I get to live in a state of koinonia with you all.  This excites me greatly.


Article Name
Koinonia: Mars Hill, Klemmer, and Adulthood
Koinonia: Mars Hill, Klemmer, and Adulthood


Courtney Robertson

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