MBMM will be hosting an Intercultural Conference on August 12-13 partnering with various American Baptist organizations including American Baptist Caucuses. There are many subjects American Baptists are uncomfortable discussing in our churches and communities because they are divisive. Racism, sexual orientation, economic justice, sexism, war and peace, the refugee crises, and ecological stewardship are just a handful of subjects that require bold conversations. This conference addresses pertinent issues in practicing multicultural ministry by promoting respectful, honest, and faithful conversations between people who disagree. The participants will be guided by Eric Law’s “Holy Conferencing” approach to have a Conversation Café on these topics moderated by Conversation Chaplains. You will have the opportunity to choose a conversation on any of these topics at the Friday afternoon and Saturday morning sessions.
Join us in bold conversations about even the most divisive matters, yet in a setting that is healthy, open, safe, Christ-centered, and Spirit-led. Learn by example how to allow people to be their whole selves and embody the truth of their witnesses to lovingly engage with others who may disagree. We will create a safe space for people to witness and share their stories. We will learn and unlearn from one another. Our goal is not to come up with a statement but practice bold conversation with truth and grace for us to learn from one another and enrich the practice of multicultural ministries in our community and churches.
A Bold Conversation is a forum that draws participants from as many parts of the community, churches, and theological camps as possible to exchange information face-to-face, share personal stories and experiences, honestly express perspectives, clarify viewpoints, and develop skill sets for having honest and bold conversations on hot button issues. Unlike debate, Bold Conversation emphasizes listening to deepen understanding. Bold Conversation invites discovery. It develops common values and allows participants to express their own interests. It expects that participants will grow in understanding and may decide to act together with common goals. In Bold Conversation, participants can question and reevaluate their assumptions. Through this process, people will learn to work together to improve relations and various theological divides.
What makes for successful Bold Conversation? Effective Bold Conversations will deliver the following:
- Move towards honest conversation to learn from one another rather than continue to express or analyze the problem. An emphasis on personal responsibility moves the discussion away from finger-pointing or naming enemies and towards constructive common action.
- Offering opportunities for new, unexpected partnerships. New partnerships can develop when participants listen carefully and respectfully to each other.
- A search for solutions focuses on the common good as participants are encouraged to broaden their horizons and build relationships outside their comfort zones.
- Aim for a change of heart, not just a change of mind. Bold Conversations go beyond sharing and understanding to transforming participants. While the process begins with the individual, it eventually involves groups and institutions. Ultimately, Bold Conversations can affect how policies are made in our churches and as an American Baptist denomination.
Please save the date on your calendars and look for more information soon on how you can join us at this conference!