Annual Conference moderator Tim McElwee is sponsoring a series of four online “Shalom Conversations” in webinar format. Each will feature a set of panelists who will engage in conversation based on their own personal backgrounds and experiences of the church.
“I describe these sessions as something like a group of friends sitting around a table having coffee and sharing conversation,” McElwee said. “Those in the gallery could be understood as other friends, within earshot, and listening in to the conversation with permission.”
The webinars will not be recorded, so those who are interested should set aside time to register and log in on the following schedule:
Please pray… For the Shalom Conversations, the moderator, the panelists, the co-facilitators, and all others who are helping with these events, that they may be held in love and care as they share vulnerably with each other and the church.
— Thursday, May 18, 8-9 p.m. (Eastern time) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_oOIcTSRKSlyJ-KVcrMXp0w
— Thursday, May 25, 9-10 p.m. (Eastern time) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FxZtfMfaSoa-NC1j-439Rg
— Sunday, May 28, 7-8 p.m. (Eastern time) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_ikHwp4HrRIaHJtXkXN9ijw
— Wednesday, June 14, 9-10 p.m. (Eastern time) https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_FbMYLLL4Q_G6Q5MYtN3PCQ
McElwee envisions the conversations as opportunities for the church as a whole to “gain a greater sense of our spiritual health as a faith community, especially as it pertains to the experiences of sisters and brothers who have sometimes been under-valued or even marginalized within the church.”
He hopes the series will be well received as an invitation to listen with love and to resolve to take action to “bring more justice and love into our churches and our world.”
Being a guest observer at the Mennonite Church-USA special delegate assembly last May brought the inspiration. “I was so inspired by their discussions concerning their proposed Resolution for Repentance and Transformation regarding the violence against LGBTQ+ members of their church,” McElwee said. “In small groups, and in larger settings, two of the key questions they discussed were: what are the benefits of learning about others’ lived experiences as they pertain to the resolution? and what are the unintended consequences when we don’t build the capacity to understand others’ lived experiences? Many people made it clear that these discussions played a key role in better understanding the dire need to transform their relationships with one another.”
— Katie Shaw Thompson, pastor of Highland Avenue Church of the Brethren in Elgin, Ill.
— Josih Hostetler, a former board member for Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBTQ Interests
— Selma Gamboa, pastor of Hispanic Ministries at Lancaster (Pa.) Church of the Brethren
— Mark Pickens, an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren and field associate with the Anabaptist Disabilities Network
— Jessie Houff (she/her), communications manager and adjunct faculty at Wesley Theological Seminary
— Carol Lindquist, a retired school administrator and lay leader in the church
— Irv Heishman, co-pastor of West Charleston Church of the Brethren in Tipp City, Ohio, and a board member for On Earth Peace
— Amy Gall Ritchie, associate pastor for pastoral care and Christian education at Manchester Church of the Brethren in North Manchester, Ind.
— Wendy McFadden, publisher of Brethren Press and communications for the Church of the Brethren
— Robert Jackson, national championship-level fast pitch softball umpire
— Gimbiya Kettering, mother/writer/activist
Co-facilitating the conversations are Anna Lisa Gross, who pastors Beacon Heights Church of the Brethren in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Samuel Sarpiya, who was moderator of the 2018 Annual Conference. They will provide an orientation session prior to each conversation as well as a debriefing session afterward.
Conference director Rhonda Pittman Gingrich is involved in organizing the events.
For more information about the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference, go to www.brethren.org/ac.
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