By Dr. Peggy Griffin
The newly formed NSBC Outreach Ministry organized the October 28th panel discussion on the “Liberating Church”. The idea spiraled from the 2018 Martin Luther King Weekend Teach-In. Dr. Nancy Bedford from Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary was our guest theologian. Pastor Rony Reyes and Lupe, a member of the Hispanic congregation, were the other panelists. Pastor Michael Ware was the panel moderator, and Pastor Kathryn Ray was the translator.
The evocative discussion followed a luncheon that had a selection of delightful tastes from several Spanish speaking countries around the world. The food and table discussions helped tune the ears of listeners to grasp meaningful content coming from the in-depth panel dialogue. This physical nourishment was preceded by spiritual sustenance in the sermon of Pastor Michael in the morning service. He reminded us that “It is not what we have, but what we share.” The total worship experience on that day involved sharing substance, ideas, sentiments, and action strategies.
One could sense the desperation of the travelers on the bridge between the borders of Guatemala and Mexico as Pastor Rony explained that he too had crossed that bridge. He shared some history that built a case for the advantage of admitting the Caravan travelers into the United States. He spoke of “the law of proximity” in which human nature compels individuals to seek the closest and most convenient way to escape from oppression. Lupe confirmed his statements as she shared her own story of finding refuge in the United States. She made the situation real for us. She emphasized the fact that people are coming with willing hands to work and make positive contributions to this country and to society at large.
Dr. Bedford stated that “God is no respecter of borders.” Peripheries and confines are constructions that are usually centered around aspirations for power and economic gain. She gave us the charge to put out truth narratives by collecting and disseminating testimonies of history. Christian education includes presenting history in the proper perspective and reaching beyond borders.
The panel discussion was more than informative. The question & answer period revealed that participants were ready to act on the ideas triggered during the discussion. From the outcome of this event, members of North Shore Baptist church can watch for some positive new initiatives. Several members signed up for the formation of an Immigration Task Force. The Outreach Ministry is working on ways to collect and publicize the rich narratives in the congregations. We have renewed inspiration in planning for our 2019 MLK Teach-in.
Pastor Michael began the panel discussion with reference to a triune plan for action that emerged in the Adventures in Learning Sermon Talk Back. These actions are: 1. Write to legislators to advocate desired changes. 2. Watch our words. Use “us” language rather than words that cause division. 3. Use the power of the vote to bring positive change.
Days have passed since the discussion of the Habits of a Liberating Church in Community, but the spirit and desire for action are rising from incubation.