Reflections on RC’s Streaming Conference
Just back from a few days at Rochester College’s Streaming conference. It was fantastic, and I hope many of you get to go in the future. Here’s part of what I loved:
1) It was at Rochester College. Since RC is located in a suburb of Detroit (translation: NOT in the Bible belt!), it’s off the radar for many people. But this is a great little Christian school. Under the four years of Rubel Shelly’s presidency (and under the leadership of Provost John Barton), the school has gotten on track financially and has charted some interesting territory in academics. This school has some amazing teachers and programs. For example, if you’re wanting to do some graduate work in theology and missiology, check out this Master’s program in missional leadership.
2) It was thought-provoking. The interdisciplinary study—with Walter Brueggemann and Richard Beck as the resource teachers—was fascinating. Imagine a lively discussion about Richard’s book Unclean: Meditations on Purity, Hospitality, and Mortality with the insights of Brueggemann’s theological framework.
3) It was emotional. Not see-how-many-tears-we-can-bring emotional. But the stirring testimony of Ryan and Jessica Woods filled the room with faith and, well, deep emotion. As Ryan and Jessica served us communion in the final hour of the conference (along with Richard and Jana Beck), there weren’t many dry eyes. Likewise, the singing—sometimes a cappella and sometimes instrumental (led by Caryl and Scott Parker)—was stirring. Especially when combined with the painting of Ro Diaz.
4) It was hopeful. From the Woods’ testimony to Greg Stevenson’s “Confessions of a Recovering Pharisee” to Brueggemann’s insistence in the divine activity of God, it pricked the imagination.
5) It was egalitarian. And it was egalitarian without having to point out, “Hey, look, we’re egalitarian.” It just was. I gave the opening sermon. Sara Barton gave the closing sermon. It just happened.
6) It was ecumenical. Yes, most of us are from Churches of Christ. But there was a wide variety represented. Brueggemann is from the United Church of Christ. (Insert your own joke here.) One panel included a (female) Episcopal priest, a (female) Presbyterian minister, and a Disciples pastor. Like Rochester College, the conference recognized and honored the heritage that most shared—while also appreciating God’s work among other tribes.
Thank you, Mark Love, for your vision and your leadership in this conference. I came away encouraged and strengthened.