The first Sabbath of a new year is significant for the black church families in the western Washington region who gather to celebrate unity, reconciliation and new beginnings.
EuGene Lewis, Washington Conference regional ministries director, saw the need for the continued message of unity and reconciliation but was unsure about how to proceed with plans for 2021. The previous Days of Celebration gathering in 2020 was one of a handful of “normal” events before the pandemic shook up traditions. Then, an idea for a virtual program began to germinate.
“By taking Days of Celebration online, this meant more people could connect with the program and we could share with a broader audience,” Lewis says. “We wanted more people to connect with the work of unity and reconciliation so badly needed in our country.”
Renee Mobley, a certified master life coach, chaplain, and marriage and family consultant, began with a Friday night presentation to discuss core feelings about race, Christianity, repentance and revival from the story of Jonah.
“Jonah was called to go to a place where he had a bias,” Mobley notes. “All people have biases. When you seek to find common ground with someone out of your comfort zone you will find it, just like Jonah experienced. By adding value to everyone we come in contact with, we subtract hate.”
Jason O’Rourke, a hospital chaplain, pastor and former U.S. Army Ranger, continued the Sabbath morning program by delving into social justice and social righteousness by looking at themes from Ephesians and the early church.
“Christ has a multiethnic church where all have access to God,” O’Rourke shares. “Within the armor of God, we can stand up, lock shields and be part of someone else’s 360-degree coverage to address the four areas Paul says need to be deconstructed: ethnocentricity, sexism, generationalism and classism.”
Mobley and O’Rourke then teamed up for an afternoon panel discussion on race, racism and the church before a concluding concert with alto Rachel Carr.
“Multicultural churches need to co-exist and find common ground with those who look or think differently,” Mobley says. “We need to pray for each other and for healing in our land.”
“The character of Christ should be reflected in how you live within your culture,” O’Rourke adds. “It takes humility to move forward for the kingdom.”
“We had a healthy conversation on reconciliation that needs to continue,” Lewis says. “These are challenging times in ministry. As Christians, we ought to be one in Christ Jesus in every area of our life.”
Watch archived presentations at youtube.com/washconf.