The CCDA conference was held in October in the Renaissance Center in downtown Detroit. That made it easier for many Canadians for make the trip.
It was clear that the US is struggling with many harsh undercurrents relating to immigration, social justice, minority discrimination and concerns about further political challenges and upheavals. But there were many parallels to challenges in Canada, and many excellent presenters.
Some of the insightful and uplifting moments included:
– John Perkins and the early morning Bible studies, which were very well attended.
– Maggie had helped as a volunteer at the conference, and was amazed at how friendly and compassionate people were. She moderated a session in which people were so engaged in talking and sharing that the people in the next room couldn’t hear their own speaker. She said she saw people really showing that they are vulnerable.
– The Go and Sees showed that Detroit Christian leaders and volunteers are very active and helping in their communities, often in very wholistic ways including housing and community gardens.
– There was a strong thread of mindful joy: to choose to see the good (despite the circumstances) and to not be focused on mere happiness.
– A powerful symbolic act was told in the story of Pennsylvanian families beating guns into garden tools.
– Paying attention to the “back of the room” viewpoint was presented by Michelle Higgins: leaders are at the front of the room, and sometimes lose the perspective and experiences of the people far from the podium.
– Look for the cracks in the system. That is where the pain is.
– Being careful to not burn out from the deluge of social media coverage. A person cannot care about everything and be effective.
– As an example of churches working together, pastor Chris Brooks helped form a group of 4 pastors (2 white and 2 black) with a goal of repenting for the isolation that their parishes participated in, and the need for “the whole church to take the whole gospel to the world.” That group of 4 pastors has grown to 500.
– Sister Simone had a funny yet insightful quote: all the members of the church body are important, including the stomach acid. She encouraged us to broaden our understanding of ways that people can help. She was funny, earnest and determined, and transcended the age difference wonderfully. She really connected with people, and made it clear that Christians need to be activists for positive change.
Following up on the CCDA conference, Churches Together London will be putting together an evening event, on Thursday, April 26th, 2018 to highlight local challenges and successes being met by area Christians. We look forward to seeing you there!