This conference opened with the celebration of the Eucharist in many languages and with much emotion. The preacher was delayed due to problems with flights out of Chicago, so another stepped in a that last minute-- delivering a most powerful sermon. The Presiding Bishop celebrated, flanked at the altar by our own Jamesetta Hammons, Peter Wu from Hawaii, David Bailey from Navajoland and me. Don't ask me why I gave Jamie that much room at the altar -- I don't know why.
For the last few days we have heard various people speak on the theme:
Together, Advancing the Sacred Dream. Every offering was geared to the Five Marks of Mission. This is the "unofficial" photo of us all as we were being organized for a group picture. Over 200 Episcopalians are here -- and we are sharing our stories.
The various plenary sessions were as follows:
1. Building the World We Dream About -- Addressing White Privilege, Internalized Oppression, Racial Justice and Reconciliation, and Capacity Building.
2. Panel Discussion with The Ethnic Missioners on What's Happening Now.
3. To Proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom: New Church Development in Partnership with Ethnic Communities.
4. Presentation, Listening and Discussion by the Task Force to Reimagine the Episcopal Church (TREC).
5. Praxis and Advocacy -- The Intersectionality of Race and Poverty.
6. To Respond to Human Need by Loving Service -- Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Ethnic Community.
Tomorrow we look forward to the last Plenary:
7. Environmental Racism: Activating Environmental Mission with the People of the Land.
There were workshops after many of the plenary sessions under various themes:
1. To Teach, Baptize, and Nurture New Believers: Helping the Church Succeed in Ethnic Ministry and Church Planing and Revitalization.
2. To Transform Unjust Structures of Society: Poverty in Ethnic Communities in the U.S.
3. To Respond to Human Need by Loving Service: Children, Youth and Young Adult Ministry in the Ethnic Community.
And tomorrow we look forward to the final one:
4. To Safeguard the Integrity of Creation and Sustain and Renew the Life of the Earth: Engaging Environmental Mission at the Local Level.
It has been wonderful to catch up with people I met two years ago at the New Community Conference in San Diego. More, it is humbling to hear the stories of the struggle our brothers and sisters in Christ still go through simply because they are people of color. The stories of discrimination, of lack of voice, of being invisible made me cry on more than one occasion during these few days.
I am proud of the group that came from the Diocese of Los Angeles. I am also proud and humbled to be the bishop involved in this ministry for our diocese, one of the most diverse in all the church. While we did not have any of our Hispanic/Latino brothers or sisters with us (there is a conference here in August -- Nuevo Amanecer -- that they are planning on coming to), we were well represented!
I look forward to continue to move beyond conversation about New Community to building the New Community in the Diocese and throughout the Church!
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