With the discussion of race finding its way back into popular discourse, I’d like to mention a “conference” this summer that has Race and the Church as its topic.
This summer at De Paul University, in Chicago, is the summer gathering for the Ekklesia Project. This is the big national gathering. I finally went last summer (I’ve been a signer for some time before that) and had a very fruitful time. I do plan on going again this year, so I hope to see some of you there. Last summer I even met the first person, who I didn’t know, that told me right after he saw my name tag, “Oh hey, I read your blog! I’ve got some questions.” I guess there actually is something redeeming at Duke then eh? I kid, I kid.
Seriously though, this is what the summer gathering will look like:
Crossing the Divide: Race, Racism and the Body of Christ
EP Summer Gathering, July 7-9, Depaul University
We approach this year’s gathering in great hope, believing that the church has been given adequate and even abundant gifts which make unity possible across the false divisions of race. We hope to explore some of those gifts and celebrate the practices of the congregations among us who are being formed graciously into a new body. We are also asking endorsers and guests to help us closely examine our own practices and institutions in order to expose and heal hidden wounds. We plan on worshiping and singing together, and on listening to one another as we encounter a difficult moral issue.
Plenary Sessions will be led by:
Rodney Sadler, Union Theological Seminary
Victor Hinojosa, Baylor University
Kelly Johnson, University of Dayton
Michelle Loyd Paige, Calvin College
Mike Budde, DePaul University
We will also feature a congregational forum in which we hear from two congregations with different approaches to the ministry of racial reconciliation.
Tentative Workshop titles include:
Wrestling with Scripture (led by Michael Cartwright)
Race, Immigration and the Divided Church
The Christian Community Development Association and EP in Conversation (led by Craig Wong of Grace in San Francisco and Glenn Kehrein in Chicago.)
The Liturgical Landscape of Race
As for who the Ekklesia Project is, here is what they say they are about:
The Ekklesia Project is a network of Christians from across the Christian tradition who rejoice in a peculiar kind of friendship rooted in our common love of God and the Church. We come together from Catholic parishes, Protestant congregations, communities in the Anabaptist tradition, house-churches and more as those who are convinced that to call ourselves ‘Christian’ means that following Jesus Christ must shape all areas of life. Our shared friendship is one of God’s good gifts. With deep gratitude for God’s ongoing grace, we are unapologetically…
*…God-centered: We seek to overcome the dominant culture’s limited vision of faith as merely private or personal. We hope to bear witness in our lives and work to the triune God who moves the sun and the stars and is found in the life, cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Against the many idols that compete to determine our lives, we affirm that real power and effectiveness lie in God’s hands; we live by trust and prayer.
*…Church-centered: We share a common commitment to the Church as Christ’s gathered Body, whose true heart is communal worship and whose true freedom is disciplined service. We share a common conviction that the Church is the material, living people of God that crosses all borders and human divisions. Our partnership in the Ekklesia Project deepens our commitments to our local congregations, broadens our care for the whole Church, and kindles in us the hope that the Holy Spirit is blowing fresh winds of unity.
*…Shalom-centered: We are committed to the peace established in Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Embodying the crucified and risen Messiah, the Church must provide an alternative to the world’s violence. We challenge Christians to rethink values and practices that presume a smooth fit between killing and discipleship and to reject troubling compromises with institutions, allegiances and assumptions that foster a ‘culture of death.’ By practicing the works of mercy and offering together our various gifts in support of God’s reconciling work in the world, we continue to listen to and learn from each other on those matters we understand differently.
*…Political: We believe that the Kingdom of God transcends national identities and must be the primary focus of our political loyalty. All other loyalties – familial, political or ideological – derive their meaning by participating in the Body of Christ and bearing witness to his Kingdom. We hope to challenge ourselves and the Church to resist accommodation to America and analogous temptations globally. We humbly seek to be used by God so that together, as the Body of Christ, we might become more of what God has called us to be.
Seeing Christ’s Body as our “first family,” the Ekklesia Project aims to put discipleship and the Church as an alternative community of practices, worship, and integration at the center of contemporary debates on Christianity and society. We work to assist the Church as it lives its true calling as the real-world community whose primary loyalty is to God’s Kingdom that has broken into the world in Jesus’ person, priorities and practices, and that continues to do so in and through the gathered Body of Christ.