Frequently Asked Questions

Registration & Costs

A1: What are the costs for participating in Gather at the River?

Costs fall into four categories: a) registration fee; b) housing; c) travel; and d) other.

 a) Registration fee

The registration fee covers the full Gather at the River program from Thursday evening through Sunday noon. Early (by April 1, 2015) registration fee is $250 for adults and $140 for students and youth. After April 1 those fees increase to $280 (adult) and $160 (student/youth). The fee for children, ages 3-11, is $50. There is no charge for children under the age of 3. NOTE that the registration fee includes Friday and Saturday lunches and the banquet on Saturday night.

There is an additional registration fee of $35 (includes lunch) to participate in one of the All-Day Forums on Thursday, August 6th before Gather at the River officially begins.

b) Lodging at Sheraton Gunter Hotel per night costs $ 39.75 per person in a quad, $46.33 per person in a triple, $59.50 per person in double, and $119 in a single. Add 16.75% tax. There is no charge for up to two children under the age of 18 sharing a room with adult(s). You will book your housing directly with the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. Read more

You have the option of upgrading your lodging to the club floor with extra amenities http://www.sheratongunter.com/sheraton-club for $79.50 per person per night for a double; $159 for a single. Add 16.75% tax.

c) Travel cost is either the cost of driving your car or purchasing an airline ticket to/from San

Antonio International Airport. Valet parking at the hotel is $21+ per night. Shuttle service from the airport to the hotel is $18.25 one-way and $32.50 round-trip. More travel details below.

d) Other costs include meals, snacks, and personal supplies. Friday and Saturday lunches and the Saturday night banquet are included in the registration (above). You will receive a list of cafes and restaurants within walking distance to eat breakfast and Friday night dinner.

A2: Can I register for only a portion of the gathering?

You are strongly encouraged to participate in the whole Gather at the River event. However, you can register for part of Gather at the River at these daily rates:

All-Day Forum (Thursday during day) $35

Thursday evening opening session $50

Friday (all day including lunch) $100

Saturday (all day including lunch and evening banquet) $150

The Sunday morning closing worship session is open to the public.

A3: Are scholarships available? How do I apply?
A4: How do I register for Gather at the River?

You are encouraged to register online. This saves staff time and resources. However if you are unable to access or complete the online registration, you can call the RMN office (773-736-5526) and someone will assist you to register.

A5: Do I need to pay fees in full when I register?

When you register online you will calculate the total cost of your participation. It is preferred that you pay your charges in full when you register. If you need to make a partial payment at initial registration and then pay the balance at a later time, please call the RMN office and ask for Ted, 312-448-5310. If you make changes in your registration later that change your charges, you will receive a credit (or refund) or can make an additional payment–whichever is appropriate.

A6: Do I register separately for an All-Day Forum that precedes Gather at the River?

No, if you would like to attend one of the All-Day Forums on Thursday, August 6, you can indicate this and pay the $35 registration fee along with your Gather at the River registration.

A7: When do I register for the workshops I would like to attend?

The slate of Gather at the River workshops from which you can choose is expected to be published by April. If you have already registered at that time, you will receive a notice to select your workshops. It is most helpful to indicate your workshop preferences before arriving at Gather at the River so that each workshop can be assigned to an appropriately-sized room. However, when you arrive at Gather at the River you may choose to attend any workshop.

A8: Will there be small group opportunities?

Given input from past gatherings regarding the importance of more in-depth interactions with other participants, all Gather at the River participants will be part of a small group of 12-15 persons that will meet midday on Friday and Saturday, led by a trained facilitator. This special program feature of Gather at the River provides possibilities for more intimate and meaningful conversation and making new friendships. If you would be interested in being a facilitator for a Reflecting Pool, indicate this at your registration.

A9: Can we bring children to the Gather at the River? What will it cost?

Yes, Gather at the River is a child-friendly place. Supervised children’s activities will be provided for children ages 3-11 and for youth (middle and high school) during parts of each day.  You are welcome to bring children under the age of 3, but you will be responsible for their care.

Parents will register each child/youth ages 3 and over participating in Gather at the River activities. The registration fee is $50 per child ages 3-11 and $140 for junior high/senior high youth. Note that two children under the age of 18 can stay in your room at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel at no charge if you are an adult.

A10: What if I need to make changes after I’ve completed my online registration?

You will need to log in to you Eventbrite account and make changes to your registration found in “my events.” If you need assistance, please call Ted at the RMN office, 312-448-5310.

A11: Can my spouse and/or other family members come with me and not participate in Gather at the River?

Yes, you may choose to bring along your spouse or other family members to enjoy the San Antonio while you participate in Gather at the River. You will need to reserve housing for them with you at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. If they do not register for Gather at the River, it is expected that they do not participate in any of the meals or program activities offered.

A12: Do I have to be United Methodist to register for Gather at the River?

No, anyone who would like to learn more about the momentous work of the Methodist Federation for Social Action and the Reconciling Ministries Network movement or experience the joy and wonder of being part of a church that is truly progressive, diverse, and inclusive of ALL persons is welcome to participate in Gather at the River.

A13: What is the Gather at the River registration fee refund policy?

If you cancel your registration or are unable to attend due to an emergency, Gather at the River will refund the registration fee you paid less a $20 processing fee. If you cancel after July 31, 2015, you will incur an additional $70 for the meals that were ordered for you.

If you cancel your Sheraton Gunter reservation more than 72 hours before your scheduled arrival, you will incur no charges. If you cancel less than 72 hours before, you will be charged for one night’s stay plus tax.

A14: Can I download the Gather at the River poster and/or logo to use to promote this gathering in my congregation?

Yes, you may download the poster and/or the logo for Gather at the River here.

A.15: Can I get CEU (continuing education) credit for my participation in Gather at the River?

Yes, you can receive a certificate for 1.7 CEUs for participation in the full Gather at the River program. Please request a CEU certificate when you check in at onsite registration at Gather at the River. The certificate will be ready for you to pick up on Sunday morning before you leave. There will be a $25 processing charge for mailing the certificate to you or handling this request after the conference.

Site & Accommodations

B1: Where will the Gather at the River sessions be held?

All worship and plenary sessions will be held in the sanctuary of Travis Park United Methodist Church in downtown San Antonio, one block from the River Walk cultural and entertainment district. Breakout sessions (the Reflecting Pool groups at lunchtime and workshops) will be in meetings rooms at Travis Park UMC and also at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel next-door. Lunches will be served in the fellowship hall on the lower level of the church. The Saturday night banquet will be at the hotel. Click here for driving directions.

B2: What type of housing is available at Gather at the River?

Hotel update: The Sheraton Gunter is SOLD OUT of all 250 rooms reserved for Gather at the River. You can get on the wait list for a room there by calling Cindy or Kathleen at 210-554-1720. Additional hotel rooms are available at the Home 2 Suites, one block from the church, at $129 per night plus tax. You can cancel your reservation at Home 2 Suites without penalty up to 24 hours before your arrival if a Sheraton Gunter room opens up for you. 

 Book at Home 2 Suites by calling 210-354-4366 and asking for a Gather at the River room.  Rate guaranteed until July 15, 2015.

Participants are encouraged to stay at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel, next-door to Travis Park UMC where most of the conference will happen. The Sheraton Gunter offers 250 modern and comfortable hotel rooms with two queen beds or one king bed. Gather at the River has negotiated a reasonable room rate of $119 per night single or double; $139 per night triple and $159 quad. Add 16.75% tax.

You can see pictures of the sleeping rooms here: http://www.sheratongunter.com/rooms

Read about hotel amenities here: http://www.sheratongunter.com/sheraton-gunter-features-and-amenities

You also have the option to upgrade your room to the Club Lounge floor with additional amenities you can see here: http://www.sheratongunter.com/sheraton-club

These rooms (king bed) are $159—single or double—plus 16.75% tax.

NOTE: If you plan to stay at the hotel before Wednesday, August 5, you need to call 210-554-1740 and talk to Kathleen or Cindy in order to get the Gather at the River room rate.

B3: How and when do I book my housing?

Please book housing as soon as possible.

The Sheraton Gunter is SOLD OUT of all 250 rooms reserved for Gather at the River. You can get on the wait list for a room there by calling Cindy or Kathleen at 210-554-1720. Additional hotel rooms are available at the Home 2 Suites, one block from the church, at $129 per night plus tax. You can cancel your reservation at Home 2 Suites without penalty up to 24 hours before your arrival if a Sheraton Gunter room opens up for you.

Book at Home 2 Suites by calling 210-354-4366 and asking for a Gather at the River room.  Rate guaranteed until July 15, 2015.

B4: Will I incur charges at the hotel if I am unable to attend?

If you cancel your hotel reservation more than 72 hours before your scheduled arrival, you will not be charged.  If you cancel, later than that you will be charged for one night’s stay plus tax.

B5: Will Gather at the River give me a roommate with whom to share a room?

No, you will need to identify your roommate(s) and book a room and arrange payment together with them. If you are looking for a roommate, you can use the “find-a-roommate” bulletin board available on the Gather at the River web site: www.gather2015.org/findroommate.

B6: Are the Gather at the River facilities and rooms handicapped-accessible?

Yes, the Gather at the River meeting spaces are handicapped-accessible. Read this Accessibility Guide for suggestions on how to most easily navigate Gather at the River.

B7: Are wheelchair-accessible sleeping rooms available?

Yes, there are wheelchair-accessible sleeping rooms at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. Persons needing such rooms should specify that with your lodging reservation.

B8: Are the meeting & sleeping rooms air-conditioned?

All of the sleeping, eating, and meeting facilities at Gather at the River are air-conditioned.

B9: Is wifi service available at Gather at the River?

The Sheraton Gunter provides complimentary basic wifi service in sleeping rooms and high-speed service in the lobby. Travis Park UMC does have wifi service on the main floor and will try to upgrade it to handle the large number of users at Gather at the River.

B10: Is food available at meals for someone with a special diet?

Be sure to indicate any dietary needs or food allergies with your Gather at the River registration. Your needs will be passed on to the meal providers. If it appears that they will have difficulty fulfilling your particular needs, you will be consulted before you arrive at Gather at the River.

B11: Are sign-language and/or translation services provided for Gather at the River sessions?

ASL interpretation will be provided for persons requesting this service at the time of registration. Persons needing foreign language translation should contact convo@rmnetwork.org before registering to explore translation options.

B12 Where there be gender neutral restrooms and what is the overall bathroom policy?

Many transgender people face harassment in the restroom that can lead to anything from deep discomfort to arrest or violence. In order to accommodate the safety and comfort of all of our participants, all bathrooms on the first and second floor of Travis Park UMC will be designated as gender neutral. Participants of any gender are welcome to use any of these bathrooms at any time.

On the third floor, bathrooms will be designated as men and womens restrooms. All participants should feel welcome to use the bathroom that most comfortably corresponds with their gender identity.

Travel

C1: How do I get to Gather At the River?

Travis Park UMC and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel are located in downtown San Antonio. Many persons will be able to drive here. Directions for driving can be found here.

Others will get flights into the San Antonio International Airport, nine miles from downtown. Learn more here.

C2: Is transportation available between the San Antonio Airport and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel.

San Antonio International Airport is located nine miles from downtown. Shuttle service between the airport and the Sheraton Gunter Hotel is available from the GO Airport Shuttle. Cost is $30 roundtrip and $17 one-way. Children aged 3 and under are free; aged 4-12 are half-price. ADA-accessible vans are available.

Reserve your shuttle online at this special Gather at the River link. You can call GO Airport Shuttle at 210-281-9900 and refer to code: RMN2015.

Because of the expense of parking downtown and the ease of walking around downtown from the Gather at the River site, you are encouraged to take the shuttle to/from the airport rather than renting a car.

C3: Is parking available at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel?

Yes, the hotel offers valet parking for $21+ per night. There are other parking garages nearby—some less and others more expensive.

C4: When should I plan to arrive? leave?

Gather at the River begins with worship at 7PM on Thursday, August 6, and ends at noon on Sunday, August 9. It is best to book airline flights to arrive at least 2 hours before the opening and to depart that long after the conclusion.

If you choose to participate in one of the All-Day Forums on Thursday during the day, it would be best to arrive on Wednesday evening.

C5: Can we extend our stay at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel before and/or after Gather at the River in order to vacation in San Antonio?

Yes, you may extend your stay for several days before or after Gather at the River at the same lodging rate, provided that there is lodging available. Remember that you book your lodging directly with the Sheraton (1-888-999-2089) so request the total length of time you wish to stay there when you make your reservation.

Here is the web site with information about what to see and do in San Antonio.

C6: What weather should I expect in San Antonio in early August?

This is probably the hottest period of the summer in south Texas. Expect high temperatures to be in the 90Fs with high humidity. You may want to minimize walking outdoors during the midday heat and do your exploring in the early morning or evening when it can be more moderate.

C7: What clothing/items should I bring with me?

Dress at Gather at the River is informal, so bring comfortable clothing. Summer clothing will be most appropriate, but remember that the meeting facilities will be air-conditioned, so you might want to have a light sweater or jacket.

Be sure to bring a water bottle and carry water with you to stay hydrated. It is also recommended that you bring a Bible and a small tote bag or backpack for carrying items around with you.

C8: Are the meeting & sleeping rooms air-conditioned?

All of the sleeping, eating, and meeting facilities at Gather at the River are air-conditioned.

C9: If I’m not a regular participant in past RMN or MFSA gatherings, how do you suggest I prepare myself to get the most out of this experience?

The Gather at the River program book will be published on this web site about two weeks before this event begins. This program book will contain complete details about the Gather at the River site and program. You will receive an email notice when this program book is published and are encouraged to take time to read through this before you depart for the gathering.

Secondly, Gather at the River orientation sessions will be offered hourly on the afternoon of Thursday, August 6. Plan to sit in on one of these so you can get information that will help you navigate the site and activities at Gather at the River.

Current:  A Youth Experience

Can youth come to Current on their own or only with a youth group?

Youth must be accompanied by either a parent, youth director, or other adult sponsor.

What grade must youth have completed to attend?

Youth who have completed 6th grade through recent high school graduates are welcome.

How is Current connected to Gather at the River?

Current youth and Gather at the River participants will be together for all worship services and participating in other relevant to youth aspects of Gather. Youth will also have special programming. Learn more here.

What are prayer stations?

Prayer stations are tactile and reflective ways to engage in creative prayer. They often include interactive tools such as journaling, doodling, art, music, and help connect spirituality with our everyday world.

Who is Current for?

Current is for youth of any sexual orientation or gender identity who have completed 6th – 12th grade. Youth of any or no denominational affiliation are welcome.

Who will be the adult supervisors?

Youth will be supervised by adults experienced in different areas of youth ministry. All supervising adults will have had background checks completed.

What should youth bring?

Dress at Current is informal, so bring comfortable clothing. Summer clothing will be most appropriate, but remember that the meeting facilities will be air-conditioned, so you might want to have a light sweater or jacket.

Be sure to bring a water bottle and carry water with you to stay hydrated. It is also recommended that you bring a Bible and a small tote bag or backpack for carrying items around with you.

On Saturday night, the youth will have a dance with the theme “Under the Sea.” Youth are encouraged to bring whatever fun or creative attire they would like for this informal formal.

What housing is available for youth?

Parents, guardians, or youth directors can book rooms for youth directly with Sheraton Gunter Hotel online: www.starwoodmeeting.com/Book/River or call the hotel at 1-888-999-2089. Let them know that you are with Gather at the River. Be prepared to indicate the type of room you are requesting and the nights you will be staying. The hotel will request a valid credit card number to hold your reservation.

Make your reservation no later than July 6, 2015. The room rate and availability are not guaranteed after that date. It is quite possible that Gather at the River will fill all of the hotel rooms at the Sheraton Gunter. In this case, additional participants would need to secure housing in other hotels. So book your lodging as soon as possible.

What are the housing policies for youth?

Outside of scheduled Current programming, parents, guardians, and youth directors are responsible for their youth. It is expected that all youth directors will follow Safe Sanctuary guidelines for overnight policies.

Where will Current be held?

In the youth wing of Travis Park UMC.

Who should I contact with further questions?

Shelley Walters at shelley@tumc.org. Learn more about Shelley here.

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