Some additional thoughts on Urbana part 1

I've been wanting to write more about Urbana for a while now but never really knew where to begin.  Then I came across an article that articulated better than I can what I wanted to say: "Do large Christian Conferences Really Make a Difference?"  Before going to Urbana, I would have easily responded with "I seriously doubt it."  How I  smiled when I read the first couple of paragraphs in this article describing large conferences as I have felt much the same after attending a large variety of them myself.  But, like the author, I found what I experienced at Urbana to be so different in many ways.

The two areas I was most wonderfully surprised and encouraged by were:

  • The Diversity.  Women and persons of color were everywhere; speaking from the platform, leading worship and as attendees.  As a woman who has been wounded by the patriarchy of so much of evangelicalism and who also misses the multi-culturalness of being in Ghana, being part of such diversity was an incredible blessing to me.  When the worship team led us in singing Jehovah-Jireh the first night (a song we learned and sang often in Ghana) I was thrilled beyond words!
  • A Prophetic Moment.  Although I have hear this term batted around for years now (and in my opinion, somewhat overused) I had never to my knowledge experienced such an event.  When Michelle Higgins walked up to the platform singing a spiritual, I was overjoyed that I was going to hear a woman of color speak but what happened next was mind blowing...and of course, has stirred up some controversy since.  It was amazing to experience how her words played out among attendees over the next several days of the conference and how they have continued to affect and challenge me.  I invite you to watch her talk yourself;    

(If what you saw in this video spoke to you, I have a couple of book recommendations for you that have inspired me and are helping me as I ask God what's next for me:

Roadmap to Reconciliation; Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice  by Brenda Salter McNeil

The Next Evangelicalism-Freeing the church from Western Cultural Captivity  by Soong-Chan Rah

Next week I'll write about a very different aspect of Urbana.  Thanks for reading my thoughts; I would welcome any questions or thoughts you might like to share after reading this.



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