I attended the Fall Theological Conference of the Southeastern Iowa Synod last week.
The theme this year was, “Being Public in the name of Jesus.” There were two presenters:
- Rozella H. White
program director for Young Adult Ministry for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
- Rev. Jason Chesnut
ELCA pastor-developer and “co-conspirator” of the Slate Project
In going from private to public and serving in the name of Jesus, they invited us to consider four “movements”:
- leveraging privilege and power
- me to we
- speaking truth despite risk
- listening to voices that disrupt
Jason performed by heart the biblical stories of Esther, the midwives in Exodus, and the Good Samaritan. He invited us into a time of confession with music and an animated timeline of the Atlantic slave trade. He said:
It’s not about feeling guilty. It’s about taking responsibility.
Rozella read a powerful personal reflection on the Charleston massacre and being a black leader in the predominantly white ELCA. She also reflected on Isaiah 58. Later, she asked:
What is the truth of God that bubbles up inside of you, stays with you, and you just can’t let go of? What’s at stake if you speak it? What’s at stake if you don’t?
I returned reinvigorated for ministry at All Saints. This church is doing cool stuff, right along side Rozella, Jason, and their communities–including in partnership with Quad Cities Interfaith and Churches United.
Being public in the name of Jesus has long been core to who and why All Saints is.
Thanks be to God.
Pastor Clark Olson-Smith