(A shared reflection, by Elizabeth and Ivy)
The CCDA . . .
This was my second year attending the Christian Community Development conference and I know going forward it will be perpetually marked off on my calendar – it is a time where I am at once refreshed and catalyzed. The CCDA is a great organization that connects community organizers and organizations and provides resources, both practical and substantive, to activists, aspiring activists, churches and more.
I’ve been doing some form of faith-based justice work most of my adult life and running the Boston Faith & Justice Network for almost ten years. In order to do this work in any kind of sustained and sustainable way you need networks, resources and people alongside, up ahead and behind you. At the CCDA conference I feel like I get all of that. We spend time in community worshiping, studying the Bible and getting to know each other. We also learn from others about the how, why and what of this work. It’s a catalyzing and refreshing time! The theme this year revolved around truth and love – the foundational verse was –
Love and Truth meet in the street.
Psalm 85:10(a) (MSG)
We considered together how to stand in and for truth while being characterized and directed by our love for God and our neighbor. It wasn’t so much about balancing the two but recognizing how vital they both are and that they are not opposed or even entirely different things.
It brought me back to one of BFJN’s foundational principles (and verses):
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God
Micah 6:8 (NIV)
I am reminded that as followers of Jesus we are called to lives of justice and mercy, truth and love. They are connected and complimentary – standing up for what is right and speaking truth (to power and everywhere) are a manifestation of the love and hesed (translated mercy in Micah 6:8) the loving kindness which God shows us, his people.
What a blessing it was to be in Covington, Kentucky (Cincinnati) this year for the CCDA conference. As a first time attendee, I am so incredibly grateful. In reflection, I am not sure where to even begin. A similar feeling as to what arose each day when deciding the course of my day and which workshops to attend between the plenary sessions.
Having the opportunity to attend the Pre-Session led by World Impact allowed me to realize the undeniable presence of God very early on in the conference. This organizational leadership session began with the importance of personal growth, stressing that “God cares more about who you are, than what you do” and “performance without presence leads to burnout [or what I like to call ‘compassion fatigue’]”. I knew I was in the right place, at the right time – as I needed this reminder. The work of justice is not an easy one, and sometimes with such passionate and dedicated hearts, being reminded we are human beings, not human doings is important.
The time spent at CCDA was inspiring, thought-provoking, refreshing and so much more. Each morning or early-evening, spending time in praise and worship I could not help but think, “this is what Heaven looks like” when seeing the diversity of God’s beloved children rejoicing in the room.
There were many “gems” as I like to call them that I am holding onto from CCDA, and so I will leave them here for you to meditate on:
- God’s peace is not based on circumstances or outcomes, but on His character and presence – and is beyond anything we can explain.
- If there is a fruit bearing season, then there’s also a non-fruit bearing season. And during those seasons you are still prospering. Don’t give up when you don’t see the fruit.
- Who are you and where are you from? If you don’t know the answer to those questions, you’ll never know where you’re going.
- Truth without love kills, and love without truth lies.
- Truths are facts in their proper context, truth and scripture taken out of context is weaponization.
- God doesn’t need degrees, doesn’t need connections, doesn’t need money, he needs a surrendered heart.
- We work from cannot see in the morning to cannot see in the night, it wears the spirit down.
- Our worth is not based on what we can produce. We can not bootstrap our way out of mental health experiences.
- Prayer: Help me to walk in your power Lord, and not my own. | Meditation Scripture: I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 1:18-20.