Atlanta Day 3 — Too Many Notes

This morning began with our drive to the center with a coffee and diet coke breakfast.

I am going to say upfront that today’s post will not be as detailed as yesterday’s. It took almost 1,000 words to describe yesterday’s one session — taken from 3 pages of notes. Today we had 3 session yielding 8 pages of notes, and that does not include the Al Gore luncheon where I did not take any notes. So this post will be much more condensed if I want to make it to bed before midnight. If you have any questions or want more details, just leave comments and I will try to respond.

Let’s start, shall we?

The first speaker today was Tony Campolo (Professor Emeritus, Eastern University and Founder of the Evangelical Association for Promotion of Education). Anyone who has heard Tony preach knows the man has fire, and today was no exception. He says the things we do not want to here. He preaches the gospel with the voice of the prophets … the voice of God.

– We are called to preach Christ, but which Christ do we preach?

– We have created a cultural diety. We want a WASP Jesus.

– Christ comes to challenge. Christ of scripture calls us to live radical lives.

– Christ said come follow me. Do you want to be a disciple? Then DO IT! Take up that cross. Don’t half do it. Don’t do the comfortable parts. You need to DO IT if your are going to DO IT.

– Ain’t nothing wrong with makin’ lots of money…just don’t keep it. Don’t be the rich man. Give to Lazarus.

– Commit to radical obedience.

– Do we think that Christ was just kidding?

– We need a sacrificial church. To live out the calling of God that the kingdom is at hand.

– Christ is waiting for us in those who want/need to be confronted.

– Christ is in us. Earthly Christ was just one man, but Risen Christ is in all believers.

– We are losing this generation because we have made Christianity too easy. This generation wants to do something.

– Go serve the poor. There will be poor always, so be with the poor always.

– Go and be the church. The church of the resurrection. Go preach the gospel news.

Naw Blooming Night Zan (Joint Secretary, Karen Women’s Organization). She is a Karen woman who still lives in Thailand in the camps. She gave a testimony about the plight of the Karen. Some of the stats were just heart-wrentching. If I understood correctly nearly 50% of Karen women have been raped by the Burmese army. The army is under direct orders to rape any women, and shoot to kill any man. Through all that horror, she still sees God present. In the children helping the parents. In the seed ministry scholarship that supports many students.

Her organization has 2 reports out, Shattering Silences and State of Terror. These are reports on the conditions of the Karen people. She charged us to go and tell of the Karen plight. Praying is not sufficient. We must do something. Be a voice. I want to try to get the reports.

Marian Wright Edleman (Founder, Children’s Defense Fund)

– Opened with Bonhoffer quote: “The test of a society is how it treats its children.”

– Gave a litany of stats on the plight of children in the US.

– Why are we more worried about getting gold, silver or bronze in the olympics, but do not care that we are in the bottom half of caring for our children?

– Need to name and change the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.

– Church ought to be locomotive not the caboose in leading this change.

– How do we do this?

– Confront and stop adult hyprocisy.

– Stop letting kids raise themselves.

– Parents! TAKE RESPONSIBILITY!

– Open the doors of churches and schools as safe places.

– WE are what is wrong with our children.

– We need to find our prophetic voice.

– We do not have a money problem in this country we have a priority problem.

Next up was the Al Gore luncheon. All I can say was AMAZING. If you have seen An Inconvenient Truth much of the data presented was form that, but he tailored it to fit in with his brothers and sisters in Christ. The climate crisis we face is the trumpets from the mountains. We are hearing the cries in the wilderness. We are facing the moral problem of our lifetimes. I recommend you go to climatecrisis.net for more data. I would like to say, and it has been said before, had the man who was on that stage today been the man running for president in 2000, I think the world would be in a totally different place right now. This man had fire, and being in front of baptist, he let it go. He was preaching the word. He was a prophet. God say the world and said it was good. It is our Godly duty to care for it. We are created in God’s image, and the earth was created for us (who are in God’s image). What does it say about how we view God if we destroy God’s gift to us?

Next up was the first Special Interest Session.  I went to one on recovering from natural disasters and Mae went to one on ending the cycles of poverty.  I was most moved by a natural disaster I did not think of.  The cost of grain.  I have been thinking a lot lately on the ethics of the food I eat, so this came at a good time.  Because of higher demand (population, biofuels, etc.) the price of grain has climbed exponentially, and many can not afford it.  We are in the midst of a perfect storm of hunger.  One way to help combat this is via sustainable farming practices.  Support your local CSA (consumer supported agriculture), know where your food comes from and how it was grown.  Try to avoid industrial farms, as they not only destroy local economies, but the environment.  There is no care for the land in these industrial farms.  The nutrients of the food grown on them is diminished because of poor farming practices.

Wow this is getting long.  I will try to be brief.

Tonight’s session was on Diversity and we had guests in the congregation.  The head of the National Council of Churches, A Methodist Bishop, an Iman, a Rabbi, a Monsignor, a Presb. Minister, and the former president of the Baptist World Aliance.

Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell (Pastor of 1st Baptist of Decatur, GA) preached on love.  How we need to find the face of love in all we do.  Zaccheus and the woman at the well were 2 examples of those changed by the face of love, Christ.  (she said a lot more, but it is getting late, and my mind is starting to fade.  Ask questions…you will get answers)

John Grisham (the author) spoke and worked on the question of how did Baptists get such a bad wrap.  (BTW the guy was hilarious.)  One reason is that for so long so many baptists have worked so hard to exclude so many.  They were proudly intolerant.   How do we stop being on the defensive.  3 answers …

1. We must truly respect diversity.  All are one in Christ.  Sexual idendity, race, gender…it does not matter.

2. Stay out of Politics.  Our mission is to preach teaching and service.  We can be good citizens, but treat politics like Saturday college football.

3. Spend as much time on the streets as in the church.  Help the poor, sick and hungry.

– We can not pick and choose our neighbors, so just love them all.

All in all a  good day.  Long. These are 12 hour + days.

Good night.

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