by Emiliana Martin
It was a beautiful Saturday morning when nearly 30 participants attended the Truth and Reconciliation Summit last month at Crossroads Church located in Palo Alto, Calif. Worship was simple, i.e., led by a joyful voice, a worship leader with a heart to praise and worship our Father. He led us to the sweet spot. By the time we were done, our hearts were set, and Holy Spirit was ready to minister.
We started by setting some basic ground rules for courageous conversations. I felt everyone understood what we were addressing, and it would not be easy. After the events of Charlottesville, VA, it was important to frame context and boundaries within which we interacted. We kept it simple. The ground rules were:
- Assume positive intent;
- Engage in dialogue—not debate;
- Demonstrate cultural humility—hold yourself and others accountable to do same;
- Be open, transparent and willing to admit mistakes;
- Embrace power of humble listening; and
- Create trusting and safe spaces where a little bit of discomfort is okay.
We were blessed with attendees who were united in Christ and represented a diverse cross-section of Silicon Valley. I noticed White, Black, Hispanic and Asian believers. However, the tension associated with this tough topic was evident.
After Nicole Dickens gave us a brief overview of her August 2017 Passion Talks presentation, we broke up into groups to develop a shared understanding, produce a concrete statement of the spiritual roots of our division and how we could counter those with the Spirit of God’s Kingdom. My group was focused on the Fall in the Garden of Eden in that the temptation was whether God meant what He said, i.e., doubt/fear, pride, idolatry. One member came up with the solution to our statement, which was straight out of Ephesians 5:1-4. Once read aloud, there was instant agreement among us. We were blown away at how Jesus showed up and inspired. Each group had a chance to share their response.
Next, we brainstormed and developed actions to which we could commit. We then squeezed our ideas onto sticky notes and stuck on a wall for everyone to see. From there we began to sort ideas into groups. The most encouraging part was those who wanted to start small-group discussions within their circle of influence was the largest group. I believe intimacy and a safe place can produce the greatest results. What better way to edify the body than to speak face to face. My sense was these small groups would be the primary catalyst for real change. They are scheduled to meet by the end of February where they’ll begin to hammer out details then bring small groups to fruition.
As we celebrated over a wonderful meal, groups shared what they wanted to do. I and a few similar aspirations were also discussed. Before we left, we had communion. I strongly felt His presence and pleasure with us. After communion, I felt as if our hearts of stone were on the altar and we were being transformed. Great things were, in fact, happening. Never before had I attended a conference with 10 minutes of worship before each breakout session. It provided an atmosphere that ensured we stayed full of the Holy Spirit during our passionate discussions.
I left encouraged, excited and hopeful. I can’t wait to see how all this plays out. To God be the glory, honor, dominion and power!
If you’d like to be a part of the ongoing discussion, please join us at our initial small group meeting on February 28th. Sign ups are here.