Sunday, 7 June 2015

Dr. Cornel West

So I was going to do blog posts in real time about the Justice Conference and my time in Chicago but things got a little hectic. You see there was so much to think about and absorb that I was just enjoying the moment. As we all should.

The Justice Conference opened with worship (which was mostly praise songs which I didn't know). Then we heard from a black spoken word artist, Malcolm London. Then Dr. Cornel West.

Dr. West is an old school well educated black preacher and theologian in the line of Martin Luther King Jr. He was awesome! He challenged us to be bold followers of Jesus. He encouraged us to draw on the faith of those who came before us for passion and humility.

He said Justice is what love looks like in public and tenderness is what Justice looks like in private.

His words were only part of his delivery. It was like the Holy Spirit was contorting his body as he spoke. He leaned on the pulpit, crouched beside it, leaned back. And (most impressively from a United Church of Canada point of view) he spoke of justice not only for black people but for all people of color, gay and lesbians, Transgender, economically disadvantaged, etc. etc.

A great talk to set the stage for the rest of the conference. Oh and did I mention he was arrested at the protests in Ferguson Missouri when the peaceful protests happened around the death of Michael Brown? A great man.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Willow Creek Care Center

Spent the afternoon at the Willow Creek Community Church, one of the biggest churches in the USA. It certainly was big and swanky. It reminded me of a huge showhome or corporate headquarters. But the really amazing thing is that the church did research on the local community, found that poor and struggling people were being pushed out of urban Chicago because of gentrification and were ending up in apartments blocks away from affluent subdivisions.

Now Willow Creek has built a food bank that looks better than any Sobeys in Canada. Why? Because the dignity of their guests (they don't call them clients) is their primary value.

Money is cool but what is more rare is following your articulated values.

The Justice Conference

I'm at the Justice Conference display floor, waiting for my pre conference event on activism in suburban churches. There are red curtains everywhere dividing book tables from kiosks on justice driven church organizations. There are booths to promote justice against human trafficking, poverty and for development work and fair trade. I'll definitely be visiting the book tables later!

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Leaving on a Jet Plane

Well I am at the Saskatoon airport waiting for a flight to Calgary and a transfer to Chicago for the Justice Conference  (
I'm going to try to let you know what the conference is all about as I experience it. I don't really know what to expect except for being more energized for the outreach part of my position at St. Martin's! Talk to you more from the Windy City!