A Big Tent celebration filled with worship, music, conversation, and prayer is in store for those attending the Convocation for Communities of Color sponsored by Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries (RE&WIM).
The pre-conference event begins at noon Wednesday, July 31 and concludes at 1 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1. It’ll be held in the Lord Baltimore Hotel in Baltimore.
Using the theme, “Seeing Red: Movements to Wholeness,” the convocation will focus on the voices of people of color in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and their collective journey to wholeness.
“The gathering will provide a safe place for communities of color within the PC(USA) to have a forum to uplift our laments, our woes, our concerns, our united as well as our individual struggles and experiences within our denomination,” said the Rev. Shanea Leonard, associate for Gender and Racial Justice. “The convocation allows us to champion our triumphs while examining our laments and our places of pain. Far too often in this denomination we are not afforded those collective spaces and opportunities as a whole, so this event is looking to provide that space.”
Leonard says the Scripture for the convocation’s foundation is Luke 8:43-48 which describes the woman suffering with the issue of blood and her efforts to make it through the crowd to touch the fringe of Jesus’ clothing and the resulting immediate healing.
“In some ways,” said Leonard, “many communities of color, whether it’s Asian, Hispanic/Latino-a, Black, Korean, African, Ingenious people and many others have places within our experiences that have caused us pain and disconnect within our own collective Big Tent within the denomination. We want to bring those issue up and bring them to the foot of Jesus in the same manner as the woman in the story.”
The first day of the convocation will focus on discussing those issues and sharing those stories, deepening relationships and moving by the leading of the Spirit. Leonard says that will occur in a variety of ways, including worship service and a sermon by the co-moderator of the 223rd General Assembly, Ruling Elder Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri.
On the second day, Aug. 1, the group will move toward wholeness and healing. “We will be looking at ways in which we can walk together as we collectively try to mend the wounds and allow the Holy Spirit to lead us to a point of wholeness,” said Leonard.
Recording artist Warren Cooper will provide a variety of music throughout the event. Participants are encouraged to wear red attire to the Heritage Dinner and celebration on July 31. Leonard says the original purpose of the gathering was to acknowledge and uplift individual cultures that make us who we are.
Registration fee for the event is $100 and covers the cost of the convocation and all meals on both days.
“It is my hope,” Leonard said, “that people will walk away from this event knowing that they are affirmed in the fact that someone hears their cry and that someone hears their suffering.”
“I also want them to know that they are not going through any of the things that they have gone through or are going through alone, and that they have siblings within the body that care about their struggles and their experiences and that someone is here to walk alongside of them,” Leonard said. “And secondly, once that acknowledgement is there, I hope there will be deepened relationships across cultural lines and within cultural groups so that we can build collective and cohesive racial ethnic groups.”
Registration is now open for the Convocation for People of Color and other Big Tent activities. For more information on the convocation, email Leonard: firstname.lastname@example.org.