May 2008
May News from The Ekklesia Project

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Gathering Facts
Meet The EP
From the Editor
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Crossing the Divide:
Race, Racism and the Body of Christ.
July 7-9, 2008. DePaul University

Neeki BeyAs always at the upcoming Summer Gathering we plan to worship together hopefully and expectantly.  And we have reason to hope. At our opening worship James Lewis will offer a sermon from Galatians 2:11-14 entitled "Doing and Speaking the Truth in the Face of Division." We can also eagerly anticipate the gifts of Neeki Bey (right) from CityChurch in Dallas who will lead our music on the first day, and conclude our evening by leading a hymn sing. Neeki Bey is a minister and musician whose work is centered around uniting a divided Church through song and worship.

One of our most important tasks will be to describe the problem of the racial divide of the Church faithfully, so that we can rightly confess and so that we can take stock of the gifts we have been given to cross the divide. To that end we are grateful for Rodney Sadler and Mikael Broadway, professors, friends and formerly fellow church members who have given their lives to thinking faithfully about race.

On Tuesday our own Victor Hinojosa will help us account for some of the factors that divide the Church by race. He has done important follow-up research to the findings of Michael Emerson and Christian Smith in Divided By Faith. Also, EP founder Kelly Johnson will lead us in a working plenary around the topic of "Racism as an Ecclesial Vice." She will get us started, and we will take the opportunity to work together, ask one another questions and explore the ecclesial dimensions of race and racism.

Tuesday will be the day in which we can choose from a variety of important workshops on Reading Scripture Together, Worship, Immigration, White Privilege and a look at the work of the Christian Community Development Association. On Tuesday evening we will hear from two congregations who are attempting faithfully to cross the divide of race: Nueva Vida/ New Life Church in Norristown, PA and The Rock Church from Chicago's Austin Community.

Michelle Lloyd-PaigeWe also anticipate the gifts of Michelle Lloyd-Paige (right), professor of sociology and Dean for Multicultural Affairs at Calvin College. She has given her life to a ministry of reconciliation and encouragement, and she will offer our closing sermon from Second Corinthians 4: "We Have This Treasure in Earthly Vessels."

All around us there is evidence of fatigue around the topic of race and racism. While many seem tired of thinking about it, a host of others do not have the privilege of ignoring it. We approach this gathering with the hope that the Church has inexhaustible resources of grace, given to allow us to cross the divide in Christian unity. We invite you to pray for this gathering and to invite friends to join us. For more information on our presenters, please visit the Gathering page on the EP website.

Gathering Facts
Everything you need to know about Gathering 2008
July 7-9, at DePaul University in Chicago
3 registration packages are available (which include registration, housing, and meals):
Registration for commuters - $70
Double room - $200
Single room - $295
Financial assistance is available for persons with need. Contact Brent Laytham for this, or with any other questions or concerns.
Register online at our website by logging in, then navigating to the registration page. Remember, anyone registered by June 1 will be entered in a drawing to receive a $100 book voucher with one of our booksellers (Baker/Brazos, Wipf & Stock/Cascade, and Doulos Christi).
Meet The EP:
Delta Community Christian Church

Delta Community Christian Church, a community committed to being the Church in Lansing, Michigan, was born in the summer of 2001 as part of a house church called Solomon's Porch.  By autumn of that year, the original group had divided with the intention of establishing a network of house churches and bearing witness to their community in diverse ways.  Since that time, DCC has continued to grow and to branch out within the Lansing area.  They are a congregation committed to radical discipleship and to serving the world in which they live.  Because the congregation has no paid staff and minimal possessions, they are able to devote their financial resources and time to missions, outreach, and meeting the needs of those around them.  For the past three years, DCC has been a consistent presence at the EP summer gathering, bringing 9 or 10 of their members each year.  They feel a kinship with EP because of shared convictions and commitments, and view the gathering as a beneficial time for bonding among their community and making new friendships with like-minded Christians from diverse places and faith traditions.  Look for the group from DCC this summer at the gathering.

From the Editor

Certainly the planning committee had no idea that race would be the focus of a new national conversation by the time of our Gathering: it is what my young emergent church friends call "a God Thing."  The Gathering is always rich in content, but quite frankly I would attend even if our topic were "Needlepoint for Jesus" just to be with cherished friends and to share in our rich Ekklesia Project hospitality.  Nancy Bullock sent a note that echoes my feelings:

"Every year in Chicago in July, I have made new, and rekindled old, 'subversive friendships'.  And each year, our plenary and breakout sessions provide concrete tools for individuals and congregations to grow in Christ.  How has racism affected our lives?  How does the Gospel challenge us to address the power dynamics in interracial encounters? What can we do to orient ourselves toward working to dismantle racism? How can we follow Christ's call to seek and serve Christ in every person?  I am excited to explore the answers to these questions at our 2008, 'Crossing the Divide: Race, Racism, and the Body of Christ'."

See you at the Gathering!

John McFadden

Brent Laytham
The Ekklesia Project
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