You may have heard that Central Christian Church is being given the opportunity to host a new worshipping community beginning this fall. It is an exciting time for all of us together. We will certainly have opportunities to learn and grow along the way, and might not get it right every time. While this is very exciting, there are aspects of it that have raised some concerns for a few folks – mostly around the idea of separating or segregating out this community and their voices from the rest of Central, and whether other people who don’t look like the leadership of The Gathering will be welcome. Fair questions. I’ll let those leaders speak for themselves (as is only fair), and… Here’s what I understand.
One way I am thinking and talking about The Gathering is this...
I am a straight, white, middle-aged, middle class male with masters and doctoral degrees, but our worship service is open to all people regardless of how closely they do or don’t match my demographic profile, as is our whole church programming (at least that’s our hope).
That said, not everyone connects with my preaching or leadership style or approach to scripture and theology, so Central benefits by having multiple perspectives elevated from within our campus. Not that those perspectives are in contradiction or competition, but that they are varying facets of the same beautiful gem stone. Likewise, our regular worship style at 11am on Sundays in the sanctuary does not speak to every spiritual longing. Only as we see and hear the many facets do we become aware and appreciative of the breadth and depth of the beauty of God's creation and kingdom, as they emerge both in the church and the wider world.
Perhaps more importantly, Central Christian Church is being given an opportunity to open space in which under represented voices of life and faith may be seen and heard. These are voices which have been explicitly silenced and excluded from theological conversation and spiritual leadership in the DFW area. Our partnership with The Gathering provides an alternate witness that all voices of light, hope, love and faith are valued and deserving of a place in our community.
Most importantly, Irie, Kamilah and Yvette are three leaders whom God has called and is empowering with a vision for a new ministry, a new worship gathering that will proclaim an inclusive, life-affirming Gospel with voices poised to reach those who have not yet heard and understood that the Good News is for them.
And just as Central seeks to be, while the conveners and initiating leaders of this community are African American Women, they seek that the Holy Spirit would create and a wonderfully diverse worshipping community that reaches people who have yet to experience the full embrace of God's redeeming love.
I believe we will continue to stretch for the more helpful ways to think and talk about what God is seeking to do among us in this new day.
I'll let these women describe their vision for The Gathering in their own words which you can