Less than six weeks after my arrival in Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery to begin ministry as the Presbytery Leader, Michael Brown was shot and killed, unleashing reactions and responses. As young adults reacted with protest, pastors, churches, ecumenical and interfaith organizations mobilized, and the eyes of the world focused on our city. The ecumenical and interfaith connections forged over decades uniquely positioned St. Louis to address Brown’s tragic death.
Reflecting on my own experiences, a lifetime of working on racial justice issues in various contexts of ministry, but new to St. Louis, I wondered how the Presbytery might effectively engage. The Presbytery has an Action Team that for years has led Presbyterians in trying to dismantle Racism and Privilege. This team organized a learning event in October bringing The Rev. Dr. Herbert Nelson to speak and lead a day of conversation. And, the Rev. Jimmy Hawkins led events on the Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend. These events were well-planned and attended. Congregations in the Presbytery are engaging pernicious racism in various ways through sermons, Bible studies and conversations. What more is God calling us to do?
Shortly after the publication of his book, The Wolf Shall Dwell with the Lamb, I met The Rev. Dr. Eric Law at a conference, and was immediately impressed by his thoughtful approach to including all voices in conversation. Working on my doctoral thesis, Leadership Development in the Multiracial, Multicultural Church, again brought me into contact with the Rev. Dr. Eric Law and his writings. When I moved to California to serve as Executive Presbyter, I was thrilled to learn Eric was living within the bounds of the Presbytery! He served as a resource to Riverside Presbytery and a consultant to several congregations.
Pastors and church leaders in Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery have the opportunity to participate together with The Rev. Dr. Law during the morning of Thursday, April 16, 2015. We will learn the practice of engaging in conversation through respectful listening and mutual invitation as we discuss the difficult and divisive issues surrounding amendments to the PCUSA constitution (Book of Order). Our learning will guide us through continuing discernment and decision-making in the afternoon. On Friday and Saturday, April 17 & 18 pastors and leaders of congregations will engage with The Rev. Dr. Law in learning together and making plans for connecting our churches with our neighborhoods. The same workshop will be offered on Friday afternoon and evening at Westminster, Belleville and on Saturday morning and afternoon at Dardenne Presbyterian Church, so pastors and leaders can choose which day is most convenient.
Critical to the success of this approach is pastors and church leaders (elders, deacons, and committee/team leaders) learning together, so PLEASE ATTEND WITH A TEAM FROM YOUR CHURCH!!!
Click here to see the video promotion shown at the Presbytery Gathering on 2/7.