Monday, November 14, 2016

#Ethnos2016 - Race and the Church

At the last minute, Deanna and I decided to join Ember Guide Amy in attending Ethnos 2016, which was a conference hosted by Freedom Church in Baltimore. The theme of the conference was "Race and the Church" and it seemed like it could not have been more appropriately timed although the gathering had been months in the planning. I loved the posture of the gathering - everyone was there to learn deeply, to listen to those different from themselves and the Gospel was present - we are not perfect but in our imperfection, God has saved us and joins us to work on messy things like race.

Our good friend Jeremy Del Rio was also one of the speakers and he's been a huge fan of our student missions efforts over 15 years now [1, 2, 3] - always good to see Jeremy.

There were around maybe 300-400 people there, mostly church and faith based nonprofit leaders. Lots of ethnic diversity which was awesome - this is one of the capstone defining demographics of the DC/Balt area. Lots of exciting church planting activity in Baltimore which is super interesting too.

Some selected notes - all paraphrased:
Lower East NYC - immigrant core, front line of gentrification, there is a factor of 38 in economic difference - low salary $10K, top salary $380K in the same community.
Luke 4 - proclaim good news to the poor, freedom to the prisoner, sight to the blind
Help me be an answer to someone's prayer today
Kind of prayers we can be answers to - lament, healing, repentance, prophetic
Jeremy Del Rio

Justice is the character of God reflected in His creation especially His people whereby they do what is right and fair and good in all relationships.
The problem of evil works itself out inside the character of God.
No way to get justice right until we get God right.
God is not just because He has to be.
A contracted understanding of God will lead to a contracted understanding of justice.
Real Jesus followers love conviction - they embrace the discipline of the Lord.
South Africa - had a truth and reconciliation committee for post apartheid communities to really heal.
Justice is part of repentance.
Evidence of a repentant heart turns to the poor.
When was the last time you talked about church discipline in the context of justice.
Escapist gospel - disengages the world.
Thabiti Anyabwile
[He spoke at two sessions and his talks were both a huge survey-wide run through the Scriptures on the idea of justice. Really well done.]

Being 'color blind' is a different level of engagement as really seeing ethnic differences. If you don't see what race a person is, you might not really being seeing them.
As an Asian American, I am constantly on the outside, but no one thinks that about Asians.
Race is a social construct.
Stranger danger has caused our children to grow up with a lack of relationships with anyone that is different than us. Deals with healthy versus unhealthy fears.
The Church needs to be back in the public square - one example is influence in public policy.
The US has systematized racism - not random, unpredictable but there are systems and structures to it.
Jenny Yang
[Jenny had a ton of valuable insights - highly recommend attending her stuff in the future. These were all from a panel discussion on race]

We have not recognized that our churches have discipled people into racism.
Relinquish your passive approach to friendship.
[From the panel discussion too but I don't remember who said these statements]

Baltimore has a ton of issues right now and most of the nation is not looking to emulate us. What if the Lord worked something together in this city to show the rest of the world how to truly get along as Christ followers unified in our diversity and really impact our city. - Ethnos Host Dan Hyun
I am a huge fan of cities - global urban migration is one of the most unique things happening in human history right now and missiologically speaking, cities are a big deal. But I've never been a huge fan of Baltimore for various reasons. But what Dan said in that closing statement, man, I could get behind that.

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