The following article details my perspective and experience at LDR Weekend. Full disclosure: I am neither Presbyterian nor Reformed. I am of the Pentecostal and Charismatic tradition and therefore must heartily admit my own ignorance of the culture and traditions of Presbyterians and other Reformed believers. My goal isn’t to praise or critique faith traditions that aren’t my own, but to share what I hope will be a unique perspective.
What I Loved
I loved how blackness was centered in virtually every aspect of the conference, and yet the conference organizers managed to graciously and sensitively create space for non-black people of color and white people. Instead of saying, “We built this table. You can’t sit with us,” the conference organizers seemed to say, “We built this table, but everybody eats. We’ll even make sure you get your own table and welcome you to ours as respected guests.”
I was elated to see black women elevated at this conference, not just in word but also in deed. Given some recent controversies, I wasn’t sure if or how women would factor into this gathering. It made me happy that women’s voices were heard and that they could operate in the fullness their gifts as believers.
What the LDR conference did best was to continue the substantive conversations that many are already having. All too often conversation fails to go deeper than a rudimentary understanding of the issue before rushing to “do reconciliation.” A particular shortcoming within my own theological stream is to rush to the Kodak Moment (which usually involves some kind of foot washing ceremony) without fully addressing the issue. It was refreshing to feel centered and to participate in this conversation without feeling like things were said or done to play to White Gaze and stave off White Fragility.
What I Wish Was Different
While I loved the sense of community, the speakers, and the overall strength of the conference, I wrestled with my place as an attendee from a different denominational/theological framework. There were times I felt uncertain of how to move because I wanted to be sure to honor the faith and traditions of the hosting denomination.
Would I have been out of place at the church-planting seminar? Should I have stood when they called for pastors and ministry leaders to stand for prayer? As a black woman in ministry with a pastoral gift and calling, I felt there wasn’t space for my voice or experiences to be spoken to.
To be clear, I did not expect for the LDR conference to speak to my unique set of experiences nor to elevate voices like mine in any way. I knew what I was signing up for when I registered. Yet, attending such a conference and hearing black women speak with such wisdom and boldness made me long for a space that I’ve yet to find in the way I need it.
What Gave Me Life
There were so many moments at LDR that evoked a hearty, “Yass” and holy hand wave that it would probably take another article to tell them all, so I’ll only share the highlights:
- My LDR Church Fan is probably my favorite souvenir from the conference.
- I was thrilled to be in the audience for the Pass the Mic/Truth’s Table Live podcast.
- The live performance of the Truth’s Table theme by Seaux Chill (Nabil Ince) gave me life, but not just life, life more abundantly.
- Two words: Duke Kwon.
I was extraordinarily blessed and refreshed by LDR. Everything about this conference was done in a spirit of excellence. I encourage you to make plans to attend next year. You should do more than plan to attend this conference. If you haven’t already, start listening to the Pass the Mic and Truth’s Table podcasts, join the Pass the Mic Facebook group, and follow the conference presenters on the socials.
What are some life-giving ways in which black people can continue to engage the topic of racial justice? Let’s keep this conversation going.