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William Barber and Actionable Outcomes, by Ken Meyers
by Ken Meyers, faith formation specialist with Bruce Cole and John Ballenger
William Barber rattled and inspired us in Raleigh during our 2017 Alliance Annual Gathering. Systemic injustice will not heal itself. People of faith must make a voice for the voiceless. But, really, how does a
congregation engage the faithful for actionable outcomes?
Bruce Cole, co-pastor of the new community of faith in Chicago (All Saints Church) and John Ballenger, pastor of Woodbrook Baptist Church in Baltimore joined me in a faithful focus for such a responsible response.
We attended the OMNIA (formerly SCUPE) Leadership Institute in Chicago. Shanta Premawardhana is the president of OMNIA (omnialeadership.com), an Alliance partner. For three days we studied the contextual leadership approach – a method that begins with listening to, learning from, and standing in deep solidarity with people in the margins. Hear now from each of us regarding our take-aways:
The challenge: Succinctly “review” the recent Omnia Leadership Summit. Here goes: “How does a church earn the right to speak and be a transformative presence?” “How does the church become the voice that makes people uncomfortable with how they are?” “You believe a lot of stuff and don’t do a damn thing.” “We don’t lack the resources. We lack the will.” Challenging indeed.
Why do I have to continuously learn the same lesson? People marginalized and oppressed own a worldview lens that is quite different from my white privilege lens. Hearing at OMNIA directly from folks inside the struggle for justice generated an angst and unction never before fused into my spirit. The conference taught a critical contextual method that places one in deep solidarity with people in the margins. May the learning lead to action within our churches and me.
I am grateful for the opportunity
to have had several days with OMNIA through the Alliance,
identifying goals and creating strategies,
for exploring a more powerful leadership
with impressively committed people,
listening to the perspectives of the margins
to become more coherent and relevant—
to become less insular
and more integrated into community—
to be inspired to conspire—
to claim more power for the journey—
and to more fully invest in and enjoy
those on the journey with us—
to become more intentionally active—
in developing strategic relationships—
forging creative alliances
to build community—
becoming a force for good
in the ever-changing specifics of time and place—
to preserve the integrity of Jesus
through that of his followers.
Photo: John Ballenger, Shanta Premawardhana, Ken Meyers and Bruce Cole