With this being my first CCDA conference, I wasn't sure what to expect. But I'm certainly glad that I attended as I was able to hear from and meet a number of people that have similar perspectives on the Christian faith as I do. Oftentimes, I find myself in circles where the label that is placed upon me as a white, evangelical Christian doesn't really fit. My worldview fit right in this week.
At the CCDA conference, I was able to hear about issues that are important to me like concern for the poor, racial reconciliation and justice for the marginalized. It was refreshing to be at home in an environment where all political preferences were welcomed and the common theme was a commitment to Jesus and to live out the Word of God in our communities.
I wasn't able to stay for the whole conference, but I got a lot out of what I was able to experience. I was able to spend some time with old friends and make some new ones. Some highlights for me were:
- Dr. Soong-Chan Rah's perspective on the changing evangelicalism in the world and the role that people of color are playing in that change. He highlighted the need to address power structures if those of us from the white community want to truly make a lasting difference in urban communities. This quote stood out:
"If you consider yourselves an urban missionary yet have never been mentored by someone from the community you are seeking to reach, then you are not a missionary; you are a colonialist."- Jim Wallis' challenge that although faith is a personal matter, it is never private.
- Dr. John Perkins spending time in the book of I John with us and compellingly demonstrating how our faith in Christ must influence how we interact with others.
- Shane Claiborne, when speaking to the topic of being single and in ministry, commented that the pursuit of Jesus needs to be our ultimate goal (not getting married). He jokingly observed that he doesn't look at Mother Teresa and think "if only she had found a good man."
- Having lunch with Mark Charles, a new friend, and Charles Gilmer. We discussed American history and the relationship between Native and African American communities.
- Dinner with Ted Gandy, who has given most of his adult life to serving urban communities and working among under served people. Several years ago Ted learned that he was of African American heritage. Hearing his story was fascinating.
It was also great to run into former Impact students that we've worked with and other Christian leaders from across the country. If you are looking to become better resourced in learning how to serve the poor or to minister in urban communities, I highly suggest becoming part of CCDA. To learn more, click here.