Reflections on CCDA 2016

I am so grateful that I got to attend the Christian Community Development Association National Conference this past week here in Los Angeles. CCDA is a network of Christians committed to seeing people and communities holistically restored. CCDA’s core principle is that loving our neighbors means caring for all their needs: spiritual, emotional, physical, economic, and social. CCDA is not about charity or handouts, but about partnering with vulnerable communities to help them flourish.
 
Here is a taste of what I experienced at CCDA:
 
Speakers
 
CCDA’s plenary speakers represented a multitude of ethnic backgrounds and disciplines: theologians, pastors, and community activists.
 
Noel Castellanos, the CEO of CCDA, spoke about the long Camino of community development, reflecting on his walk on El Camino Del Inmigrante, a 150 mile pilgrimage from the border of Mexico and California in solidarity with immigrants who are migrating across the world.
 
Brenda Salter McNeil from Seattle Pacific University spoke on the need for new models of reconciliation, and for the church to not sit idly by in the face of injustice.
 
Nikki Toyama-Szeto of IJM commented on finding her unique voice in God’s work as a Japanese-American woman, and she illuminated Isaiah 58’s message of how the work of Shalom in the present can rebuild the past and restore the future.
 
Peter Chin of Rainier Avenue Church talked about his experience of witnessing reconciliation between African Americans and Korean Americans, and the transformative power of Christ to overcome deep-seated animosity.
 
Sandra Van Opstal of Grace and Peace Community reminded us that worship is integral to the work of restoring communities, for it reorients ourselves to the God of the work, not just the work of God.
 
Ched Myers of Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries extolled us to remember the history of Los Angeles, of the ecological history of the floodplain on which the city was built, to the history of the indigenous Tongva people, the Spanish colonization, the Mexican government, and the complex interweaving of different communities in the city.
 
Daniel Hill of River City Community Church called on those of us with privilege to not ask ourselves, “What should I do with my privilege?”, but rather, “Can I see my privilege?”
 
Lina Thompson of Lake Burien Presbyterian Church shared of her struggles as a Samoan-American female pastor of a multi-ethnic church, and that we all need to disciple from a true picture of Jesus.
 
Ben Lowe of Young Evangelicals for Climate Action reminded us that the work of the cross is for the restoration of all things, including all of creation.
 
Ian Danley of Neighborhood Ministries reflected on his family’s experience relocating into a poor community in Phoenix and how he learned to raise up leaders to combat systemic sin.
 
Efrem Smith of World Impact led a study on Paul’s letter to Philemon, and reminded us that the poor, marginalized, and incarcerated are not just stories for our donor letters, but that they have a missional call of their own.
 
Enid Almanzar from American Bible Society shared her story of how the Bible gave her hope when she was living in the housing projects of New York City, and encouraged us to make sure that the word of God is at the center of everything that we do, as we contextualize the word to remove obstacles blocking others from participating.
 
Michael McBride of The Way Christian Center called on us to join in the work of Jesus, who came to set the captives free, and for the church to reclaim its prophetic voice against the injustice of police brutality.
 
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What I find so encouraging about CCDA is that it is a community of people who are deeply committed to Jesus and His work in the world, particularly in poor and vulnerable communities. As I continue to explore my call to serve my city, I am grateful to have this community available to support me.
 
If CCDA sounds interesting to you, let me know and I can connect you to resources to learn more. The next National Conference will be in October 2017 in Detroit!

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