Last week The Presbytery of Charlotte hosted a national secular conference and we learned many things.
We learned that . . .
- Logistics are important. Like all event planning there are the big decisions (what hotels to book) and there are the tiny decisions (how to arrange the t-shirts.) This event took about three years to plan. A lot can happen in three years.
- Context is more important. When we started planning something very intentionally named “The National White Privilege Conference” almost every bank, hospital, restaurant, and club wanted to be a part of it. That was 2019. In 2022, almost every bank, hospital, restaurant, and club didn’t want anything to do with it. During those three years, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Daunte Wright and several others were killed by police officers while unarmed. Armand Arbery was killed by three men later convicted of hate crimes. The U.S. Capitol was attacked by people who defecated in congressional offices and beat police officers. And over six million people have died of COVID worldwide.
- Exhaustion reigns. People are tired of COVID. People are tired of hearing about racism. (Note: if you happen to have long-COVID or you lost a loved oned to COVID, there’s a different kind of exhaustion. And for those of us who are White People, saying we are “tired of race talk” only highlights our privilege.
- Misinformation also reigns. Yes, we got a little hate mail and it was usually filled with misinformation. My favorite was a complaint about the Presbytery spending $250 million on this conference. (Believe me, if we had $250 million there wouldn’t be an affordable housing problem in Charlotte.)
- Hope reigns most of all. One of the disadvantages of attending this event virtually (and more than twice the participants attended virtually both because of COVID and expense) is that you don’t get the hallway conversations and the lunch meet-ups. You don’t get to have informal conversations with the keynoters and workshop leaders. In those interactions there is enormous hope. People are smiling in spite of the world’s brokenness. There is laughter and it’s not all cynical. There is deep respect and love shown.
Also, everyone should visit the NASCAR Hall of Fame. They were big unexpected supporters.
Why do I work to make conferences like this happen? Because Jesus. I would love to talk with you about it if you are willing.