By Erika Clary
Join us for the New and Renew Virtual Conference, May 13-15. We will be exploring the theme “The Reward of Risk,” guided by many terrific workshop presenters and keynote speakers. Two workshop presenters for the event are Maria-José “Coté” Soerens and Darryl Williamson.
Soerens is a church planter in Seattle, Wash., where she is nurturing a faith community rooted in the South Park neighborhood where she lives. Born in Chile, she came to the US at the age of 25 and has since started a number of initiatives in the private and nonprofit sector. Her favorite is Resistencia Coffee, a neighborhood-owned and -operated coffee shop at the heart of South Park.
She also is a co-founder of Cultivate South Park, a neighbor-led asset-based community development group dedicated to identifying, connecting, and celebrating the gifts of South Park residents to co-create a more equitable community. There, she serves as part of the Urban Fresh Food Collective and the South Park Arts and Culture Collective. She also serves on the city of Seattle’s Equitable Development Initiative advisory board and the Cultural Space Agency Council, both focused on increasing access to community-controlled spaces for communities of color in Seattle.
Soerens’ workshop is titled “Trusting God, Trusting Neighbors: Mobilizing Power and Assets in the Neighborhood.” She writes: “Despite our best intentions for missional engagement, congregations can sometimes have an awkward relationship with the communities where we worship and serve.” Her workshop will explore practical ways to engage communities in liberating, collaborative, and generative ways that build belonging and common mission.
Williamson has been lead pastor of the Living Faith Bible Fellowship in Tampa, Fla., since January 2010. He helped transition the church from a primarily middle-aged African American membership to a multicultural, multiethnic, multigenerational congregation. He is active with three organizations whose ministries focus on seeing the gospel advance in marginalized communities in the US and abroad. He leads Arise City and is on the board of the Crete Collective and the Underground Network.
He also serves on the Leadership Council of the Gospel Coalition. He has a gospel-centered concern for spiritual formation, racial reconciliation, restorative justice, faith-work economics, ethics and theology, and church history. He has contributed to two books: 12 Faithful Men: Portraits of Faithful Endurance in Pastoral Ministry, and All Are Welcome: Toward a Multi-Everything Church.
Williamson will be presenting a workshop titled “The Promise of Church in Hard Places,” which will address why establishing churches in neglected communities will not only bring spiritual and holistic restoration to those neighborhoods, but also will usher in a mission movement in cities across the national landscape. In his workshop, the vision of the Crete Collective will be presented.
Worried that you will be unable to attend live sessions? Those who register will have access to recordings of all sessions and workshops until Dec. 15. Ministers who want continuing education units (CEUs) will receive a form to mark either attendance at live sessions or recordings to earn up to 2.0 units.
Registration costs $79, plus $10 for continuing education credit, and includes access to recordings of worship, sermons, and workshops. Register and find out more at www.brethren.org/discipleshipmin/newandrenew.
— Erika Clary is working temporarily for the Church of the Brethren Discipleship Ministries until starting a Brethren Volunteer Service (BVS) position as coordinator for National Youth Conference 2022.
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