The gospel calls for justice and unity in the body of Christ. We must respond.
The body of Christ is called as one new family, one body, with one Lord and one Spirit. However, we are not experiencing this unity. The events, tragedies and controversies around us expose deep divisions in the church. Some call for justice, while others long for unity. We share the essentials of the Christian faith, but we see things differently on the ground.
Too often, our divisions fall along racial, ethnic and gender lines that reflect the world's divisions more than the unity of the Spirit. Political and secular frameworks prevent us from engaging issues like poverty and racial justice faithfully, which leaves the most vulnerable without help and deprives the entire body of the richness of community.
- How do we address divisions among Christians through a gospel lens without surrendering to secular or political ideologies?
- How do we heal wounds from the past and embody the hope of the gospel?
- How can churches move toward multiethnic congregations or partnerships?
The gospel of Jesus Christ provides a way to reframe these conversations and move forward if we're willing to engage each other with open hearts and listen to those who are often the most marginalized.
What to Expect
The Talking Points leadership team is hosting a three-part conversation on the centrality of both justice and unity in the church. Through biblically, historically and practically grounded conversations, each conference event will seek to:
- Explore the biblical theology of justice and unity as inherent to the gospel and central to the identity and mission of the church.
- Apply that theology to concrete areas of injustice, e,g., racial and gender inequity.
- Give voice to the ways our communities are suffering due to injustice or marginalization in these areas (see conference-specific focuses below).
- Discern how God is calling us to seek justice and unity in our respective contexts.
- Facilitate restorative relationships between ministry leaders from different cultural contexts and the communities they serve.
The Church is where God's already-and-not-yet kingdom is experienced, so our response to racial, ethnic, gender and other divisions must be approached from a distinctly kingdom- and gospel-centered framework. We invite you to join us in this conversation.
Three Conferences. Three Leadership Luncheons.
Each of three conferences in 2018-19 will explore the theology of justice and unity in Scripture and look at specific areas of marginalization. They will be followed by luncheons for leaders who want to engage in deeper, transparent learning and intimate, restorative relationships. More information on these luncheons will be given at the conferences.
By "marginalization," we are simply referring to those who are not in positions of greatest influence, whose voices are muted and whose suffering is often left unaddressed. In his book "Generous Justice," Tim Keller writes that biblical justice is "care for the vulnerable" and "right relationships." That's our goal with this series.
- Spring 2018 Conference (Focus: The Black/African-American Experience)—Thursday, April 26, 2018
- Fall 2018 Conference (Focus: The Hispanic/Latino(a) Experience)—Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2018
- Spring 2019 Conference (Focus: Women in the Church)—March/April 2019
We recognize that there are other equally-worthy and urgent areas of marginalization (e.g., Native American, Asian, Arab/Middle-Eastern, special needs, victims of human trafficking and so many others). We're just scratching the surface. In planning this series, we chose three areas where we felt we could speak authentically and effectively, from a context of authentic, intimate relationships that would lead to systemic change (i.e. structural changes in the institutions where we live, work and play). We hope to continue growing as an institution so that we can transform our organizational culture and continue to focus on others areas as well.
We have pulled together a team of GRTS staff and alumni to plan and lead the Justice + Unity series. The team includes Denise Evans, Julian Guzman, Artie Lindsay, and Darrell Yoder.