Put it on your calendar now and go to wvumc.org to register for the 2017 Bishop’s Summit on Diversity and Inclusion, at Cedar Lakes, near Ripley, WV beginning at noon, October 6 and running through 3:30 pm on October 7! You will not want to miss this training on intercultural competency. The theme this year is “Building Holy Relationships Across Cultures and Abilities.” This Summit will focus on becoming more culturally competent as we engage with and provide ministries that are culturally relevant; paying particular attention to working with and including people with different-abilities.
Every man, woman, and child is created out of and holds within them the spark of the Divine. God sent God’s son, Christ, into the world to remind the world of God’s blessing and God’s love for each person, so that the world might have life and have life abundantly. Today, the Christian Church exists for the purpose of extending this message in all places to all people without restriction.
As I think of the most recent events where violence has been visited upon people in this country, it continues to be evident that we need opportunities that build awareness, that nurture relationship among a wide variety of people, and that encourage education in ways that help us to see people as people instead of seeing people as objects. To see people as people instead of as objects changes our relationships and alters our behavior.
As followers of Christ, we believe that all people are created in the image of God, and are therefore not objects, not things, but part of the human community. Intentional work and attention on becoming more interculturally competent as well as study of Christian Scripture, calls those of us who identify as Christ followers to take an active and prayerful part in ending all expressions violence and hatred by building healthy, respectful relationships that recognize the sacred value of all people and to participate together in acts of justice and peace.
This year’s Summit will offer participants the opportunity to consider ways of being bridge builders between the church and people of differing cultures, including people with differing abilities and mental health challenges. Part of bridge building involves an examination of the power of language. We will look at how the use of language can build or destroy relationships. We will examine a broad definition of what has been called disability, going beyond the physical and what is observable.
We will look at the issue of persons with differing abilities across cultural understandings. One session will provide participants with a better understanding of the different lenses by which different cultural groups understand and respond to people with disabilities, as well as, take time for participants to discover their own worldview of people with disabilities, including those with mental health challenges. Of course, we will be looking at developing action plans or steps that can be taken back in our local congregations and communities.
Don’t wait. Register now. We need to intentionally build our own capacity for reaching all people for Christ! We need to stop the mental, physical, and emotional violence that takes place in our communities. We need to better be the Body of Christ!
Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball