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Jesus Christ and the ‘Dividing Wall’: Race and God’s Mission

W. Don McClure Lecture Series is free and available online four Wednesday evenings in October

by Tammy Warren | Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — How does racial injustice and racism in the United States impact our engagement in God’s mission in the world?

The Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM) of the Presbyterian Mission Agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a sponsor of the 2020 W. Don McClure Lectures and WMI Month of Mission Series. The annual lectures, hosted by the World Mission Initiative and Continuing Education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, will focus on the theme, “Jesus Christ and the ‘Dividing Wall’: Race and God’s Mission.”

These free lectures will be held in a virtual online venue on four Wednesday evenings in October. The lectures are open to all, but registration is required. A connection link will be provided to all registrants closer to each event. Register for the McClure Lecture series here.

Each presentation will include a question-and- answer time, as well as a half-hour discussion in congregational groups. American Sign Language interpretation will be provided at all sessions.

the Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove

Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Unlearning the Habits of Slaveholder Religion
The Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Baptist minister, author and speaker. He and his wife, Leah, founded Rutba House, a Christian community and house of hospitality in Durham, North Carolina.

Oct. 14, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Journey to Reconciliation
The Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, Professor of Reconciliation Studies at Seattle Pacific University. She is an author, speaker, and thought leader with more than 30 years of experience in the ministry of reconciliation.

the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil

Oct. 21, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Where Do We Go from Here?
A conversation with the Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil and the Rev. Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove on their own stories of learning about systemic racism.

Oct. 28, 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time
Keys for Allies to Use Their Superpowers: The Role of Vulnerability and Compassion in Anti-Racism Effectiveness
Dr. David Campt, a national expert in the areas of inclusion and equity, cultural competence and intergroup dialogue. Campt has more than 25 years of experience in bringing compassion and vulnerability into highly charged conversations, especially conversations around race. His clients include The White House, the National Park Service and international organizations around the world.

Dr. David Campt

“Many of our churches, and within our churches and campus ministries, are in very different places about race,” said the Rev. Dr. Hunter Farrell, director of the World Mission Initiative at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. “Some come looking to know how to begin the conversation about race in their college or campus ministry or church, and others are looking for tools to move into action. They’re tired of studying the next book about racism.” Farrell said the presenters will have tools for both groups.

In addition to these plenary presentations, pre-recorded workshops can be accessed and used by participating churches and individuals in the future to go deeper in the intersection of racial justice and God’s mission.
Workshop speakers will include Ebralie Mwizerwa, co-founder of Legacy Mission Village, who will speak on the topic of “Reclaiming Christian Faith in an Age of Deadly Difference.” Mwizerwa’s story about healing the wounds of genocide in Rwanda is described in the 2018 movie, “Beautifully Broken.” Mwizerwa and the Rev. Patrice Fowler-Searcy, associate pastor of mission at East Liberty Presbyterian Church and board president of East Liberty Development Inc., will discuss “Bridging the Gap: The Story of a Mainline Church, Legacy and New Residents in a City Neighborhood.” Additional recorded workshop presentations will include Brenda Salter McNeil, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, Juan Sarmiento and a workshop by urban missioner Tony Igwe and Farrell on “Decolonizing Mission.”

The Rev. Todd Leach, associate pastor of missions at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh, has been serving in his call for more than 12 years. He said his ministry has never been more challenging than it is at this moment.

“COVID-19 prevents us from gathering as we desire, yet the Spirit is certainly present in our communities,” Leach said. “The heavy veil of systemic racism has been lifted, exposing what has been unseen and perhaps ignored for far too long. If you are like me, or like our congregation, you are attempting to catch up and discern the Spirit’s movement in a continued effort to educate and equip ourselves to interrupt such racism.”

Shadyside Presbyterian will be joining in this year’s McClure Lectures and learning from those a few steps ahead, and “gathering alongside those who are discerning how each and all of us are to join the Spirit’s movement,” as Leach put it.

Learn more about the lecture series and register here.

The W. Don McClure Lectures honor the Rev. Dr. W. Don McClure, a 1934 graduate of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, who served as a missionary in Africa for nearly 50 years. McClure’s years in Africa spanned dugout canoes to jet boats, in an arc through Sudan and Ethiopia equal to the distance between Pittsburgh and Dallas. After retirement he continued as a volunteer at Gode, Ethiopia, until guerrillas killed him on March 27, 1977. McClure’s life story is told in “Adventure in Africa: From Khartoum to Addis Ababa in Five Decades (1990),” written by Charles B. Partee, P.C. Rossin Professor Emeritus of Church History at the seminary.

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