From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ECUMENICAL STUDENT CONFERENCE SPEAKERS URGE
05 May 1996 07:32:52
95001 ECUMENICAL STUDENT CONFERENCE SPEAKERS URGE
SPIRITUAL COMMITMENT, ACTIVISM
By Julian Shipp
ST. LOUIS--They came from backgrounds as diverse as the faces in
the crowd they addressed here, but all seemed united on their
journey to understanding God and the spiritual desire that has
become their life's passion.
Who were they? Edwina Gateley, the Rev. James Forbes, the
Rev. Tex Sample, the Rev. Ida L. Johnson and Rita Nakashima Brock -
- five featured speakers at an ecumenical, college and university
student conference titled "Celebrate: Gathering at the Crossroads"
Dec. 28 through Jan. 1.
The opening sermon, "Your Project and the Power to See It
Through," was delivered by Forbes, pastor of the Riverside Church,
a 2,400-member interdenominational church in New York City.
Forbes urged his audience to make it their purpose or
"project" as he called it, to carry out the work of Jesus Christ.
He said this can be accomplished by understanding what restraining
forces assault Christians, by taking care of the physical body, by
not being afraid to make mistakes, by affirming and believing in
the strength of individual uniqueness and by acknowledging the
power of the Holy Spirit.
"You can't be a decent Christian without a project," Forbes
said. "I propose that Jesus Christ...is one who had a project and
figured out how, even in the midst of all the negativity, to get
his project through."
Gateley, the keynote speaker, recalled her struggle to be true
to Christ's gospel which ultimately led her to Uganda in 1964 as
a Catholic lay missionary. Motivated by her experiences in Uganda,
she founded the Volunteer Missionary Movement in 1969, which now
involves more than 1,000 missionaries worldwide.
A British Catholic laywoman and an internationally known
speaker, writer and poet, Gateley, also ministered to women in
alleys, bars and brothels in Chicago and founded Genesis House -
-a safe house and rehabilitation center for prostitutes -- in 1984.
"No one comes into the world with negative thoughts and dreams
of being a drug dealer, drug addict, hooker or prostitute," Gateley
said. She encouraged listeners to continue moving towards holiness
and wholeness regardless of societal or personal obstacles.
"God does not play games," Gateley said. "God will never fail
you if you are faithful to the journey. We are responsible for the
wealth of God (in our lives) and for our (spiritual) projects."
Brock, who served as Bible study leader, told listeners that
although the birth of Jesus is a joyous occasion, it did not come
without violence and suffering -- specifically the murder of
hundreds of male children in and around Bethlehem by King Herod in
an attempt to kill the Christ child.
Brock said the deprivation and violence surrounding Jesus'
birth is similar to the lives of many American children today who
also are threatened by poverty and violence.
"Our world today slays the innocent every day," Brock said.
"And if the new U.S. Congress has its way, a quarter of American
children in poverty will probably become more than a quarter, as
programs to feed infants and children shrink."
Brock who holds the endowed chair in the Humanities at Hamline
University in St. Paul, Minn., has lectured and taught in several
areas, including women's studies, feminist theology and
contemporary religious issues.
An award-winning author, Brock also serves on the editorial
board of the "Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion" and the
board of directors for overseas ministry of the Christian Church
(Disciple of Christ).
Also leading Bible study was the Rev. Ida L. Johnson, African
American missioner for the Episcopal Diocese of California (San
Francisco area). She is coordinator of the Neighborhood
Afterschool Program based in Oakland, Calif., which provides
tutoring, homework help, music, crafts and computers for elementary
As Jesus was tested by Satan after fasting 40 days and nights,
Johnson said, all Christians face temptation and must be especially
careful not to fall for what she described as "the illusion of
self-sufficiency" personified by "the American Dream."
"What has become so important in our lives that God has become
marginalized?" Johnson asked. "Is it someone, something or even our
religion that has minimized our relationship with God?"
The closing sermon was delivered by Sample, professor of
church and society at Saint Paul School of Theology. A well-known
speaker and author, Sample has been widely published in national
journals and magazines.
"Celebrate: Gathering at the Crossroads," was the second
national student gathering initiated by the Council for Ecumenical
Student Christian Ministry (CESCM). Formed in 1987, CESCM was
created to help build student leadership and strengthen the
ecumenical vision and global understanding of American student
# # #
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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