Engaging the Conversation

In a previous post I mentioned my hope that St. Louis would begin to have long needed conversations in light of the situation in Ferguson. Clearly that need is nationwide as well, and most specifically needed within the Church. I've heard, presumably originating from MLK, Sunday morning referred to as "the most segregated hour" in our nation. This does seem to remain unsettlingly true in many locations.

Therefore, I'm excited I've been around as a few of these needed conversations have begun.

"Night of Hope"
Last Sunday I attended "Night of Hope" at the historic Third Baptist in St. Louis' Grand Center, which I only learned of thanks to my husband's insistence we visit with friends that day at a largely Japanese gathering. (Yes, it's translated, and small but interestingly diverse.) Many area congregations were invited to worship together with a diverse Christmas choir, along with a few practical ways to make a difference, including partnering with local schools, and supporting the Mission: St. Louis Job and Leadership Training program, which needs volunteers. The organizers mentioned a future conference as well. They've adopted the slogan "The Church: One City, One People."

"A Time to Speak"
Last week in Memphis, TN, The National Civil Rights Museum hosted "A Time to Speak," a livestream which brought together many church leaders from across the U.S. (including St. Louis' own Darrin Patrick) to discuss these issues and where the Church goes from here. The conversation can currently be viewed at live.kainos.is.

"Ferguson Response - Engaging Race"
Darrin Patrick, lead pastor of The Journey, took the opportunity to change up their series focus the weekend after the jury announcement and preached on responding to what's happening. His focus was on engaging "the other," as in people who are not like us, citing Jesus' culturally unacceptable approach toward a Samaritan woman at a well in John 4.

The Journey also previously hosted "Forum on Ferguson: Why So Much Anger?," and has shared thus far two "Race Round Table" discussions. None of these were about people having all the answers, but they provide good examples, as did "A Time to Speak," of what having potentially messy conversations looks like.

As brothers and sisters in Christ, it's not all about seeing perfectly eye to eye, but it is about listening, attempting to understand "the other," and remembering we agree in The Gospel because of what our Lord has done. In all these conversations we must remember His is the message we have to share, with each other and the world, if we want to see true change.

All of this just brings me deeper into the importance of presence. We can't have conversation in the first place if we remain isolated and separated. We must engage.

Get in the conversation. Listen. Learn.

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