Barber, Watkins featured speakers
by Phillips Theological Seminary staff
The church and people of faith have a great responsibility for engaging the conversation about race in the United States, according to speakers at the 2016 Remind & Renew conference. (Audio available for all speakers on the webpage.)
“What would happen if we all got together?” asked the Rev. Dr. William Barber, II. “What if we put away this puny language about ‘left versus right’ and started talking about what’s just?”
Point-by-point, Barber connected decades-long policies of federal, state and local governments that cut funding for public services, including education and health care, to deep seated efforts to maintain control by a white majority. He said when justice-seeking people come together, change will happen.
“The Christian Church is primed to be that voice because we believe that everybody is invited to the table,” Barber said.
“The same people fighting Medicaid expansion and the same people fighting health care for women and the same people fighting the LGBT community and the same people fighting labor rights and the same people fighting public education, the same people fighting voter participation, are the same people. They’re like the Sadducees and Pharisees,” said Barber, pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina and founder of the Moral Monday movement and NAACP North Carolina president.
More than 230 people attended the two-day event at Phillips Seminary in Tulsa, OK. The speakers were asked to address the question, “What is the conversation about race Christians in the U.S. should be having, and how might that conversation contribute to liberty and justice for all?”
During a public keynote address Jan. 13, The Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), said, “After a decade of anti-racism work… we know that racism is race prejudice plus the misuse of power by institutions and individuals to the benefit of white people.”
“We selected the topic for the 2016 Remind & Renew gathering to stoke the conversation about race Christians should be having. The racially charged tragedies in late 2014 and 2015 which preceded the conference have, tragically, continued, which made the conference even more timely and urgent,” said Gary Peluso-Verdend, president of Phillips Seminary.
The Phillips Seminary Alumni Association also honored The Rev. Sheri L. Curry with its Frank H. Marshall Ministerial Excellence Award for 2016 at the conference. Curry, a 2006 graduate of the school, was recognized for her work in bringing worship and life changing classes to those incarcerated in the Tulsa County jail.
Watkins also spoke at First Christian Church in Tulsa, hosted by Revs. Cassie and Michael Riggs.
2017 conference subject announced
The 2017 Remind & Renew conference will feature Phillips Seminary faculty members addressing the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century reshaped the religious and political landscape of Europe and influenced everything from vernacular translations of the Bible to the creation of the parsonage family to how Europeans invaded and colonized peoples and lands.
The Reformation also reshaped what Christianity means and created many new options. Today, scholars and pundits have claimed the world is seeing a New Reformation; the inner and outer forms of church, what it means to practice Christianity and to follow Jesus are changing and often in competition.
What is Christianity? What does it mean to follow the way of Jesus? Should we really speak of Christianities rather than Christianity? What is the meaning of Protestant today other than “Not Roman Catholic” and “Not Orthodox”?