Mark your calendars now. On Feb. 11 & 12, Antioch Church in Bend, Oregon will be hosting the Justice Conference. I won’t be able to attend because I’ll be in Mobile, Alabama speaking at a womens gathering @ Christ United Methodist Church. So if you are in the Mobile area, come join us there. But if not, and the thought of interacting with speakers like Shane Clayborne, Nicholas Wolterstorff, or Lynne Hybels interests you, go ahead and register for the Justice Conference. It is shaping up to be one of the best conferences of 2011.
Since this is the first time Antioch has sponsored the conference, I asked Pastor Ken Wytsma (yes, the very same fellow in the last chapter of Doublewide) some questions about the conference.
Q: Why this conference?
A: Justice is one of those things that requires sacrifice and sacrificial love. As such, it doesn’t happen naturally (it’s a pretty active sport so to speak). If it doesn’t happen passively, then – if we care about it – we’ll care about opportunities to thump it or put some wind in the sails. Justice, social justice, the social gospel etc. etc – there’s a lot of confusion out there. If we don’t want the baby thrown out with the bathwater, we need to define, redefine, clarify and educate. Being an advocate has much to do with networking – what better way for organizations and individuals to network than at a conference!
Q: Why is it important for Christians to have a global perspective? Don’t we have enough problems just raising and feeding our own families?
A: Short answer: both are important so it’s a false dichotomy. If someone finds excuses globally then they’re probably finding excuses to ignore local issues. If someone is involved in local issues then they’ll probably develop a heart tender enough to care for suffering in all shapes, sizes and places. Lastly, vulnerability increases the less someone has recourse to assistance. Compare the guy panhandling in Bend with civic laws to protect, shelters to stay at, disability to apply for, rich Americans to beg from etc. with the woman being raped by 30 rebel soldiers in the Congo who are hopped up on drugs and just murdered her husband. The greatest injustices deserve the greatest effort – Example: Wilberforce reformed women’s rights, animal rights and other things, but gave his life’s energy to stopping the Atlantic slave trade. In sum, I hope Christians will care enough to help the homeless down the street as well as the women of the Congo.
Q: Do you believe every Christian ought to be an activist?
A: I believe every Christian has a ongoing debt to love one another (Paul’s words not mine). As such, every Christian has a responsibility to give of their excess (time, energy and money) for those less fortunate. Every Christian is commanded to act justly and to love mercy (Micah 6:8). If that means advocate – so be it. If it means faithful servant – so be it. If it means mature Christian – so be it. If it means practicing true religion or being a good Samaritan – so be it.
Q: Bend is a resort/recreational area. Isn’t there something incongruent about holding a Justice conference in America’s playground community?
A: Bend is a resort town, but it is also in the top 5 entrepreneurial towns in the United States. There are more activists, advocates and non-profit startups per capita here than most any other place. Also, doesn’t it sound too commercial to have something so counter-cultural in Chicago or Atlanta? Bend is the most unlikeliest of places – pretty cool
Q: What do you hope people will take away from this conference?
A: Take aways? Hopefully, relationships, opportunities, next steps, resources, conviction, passion and more.
Ready to Register? Click Here.
Still not sure?
Check out Pastor Ken’s sermon about the Justice Project: