The 2-day “Drum Majors for Love, Truth and Justice” conference on November 20-21st led by civil rights leader Dr. John M. Perkins and Dr. Metzger addressed various issues to inform, encourage and challenge church leaders towards a theology of engagement, holistic participation in the gospel and redemptive reconciliation. Perkins, Metzger and the community leaders who joined them for panel discussions offered meaningful reflections that helped those gathered to keep marching forward to the beat of a different drum in community development work. We are witnessing today the need to break through social comfort zones and develop true community that takes us beyond simple acts of charity and affinity groups.
In the first session entitled “The Need of the Hour,” Metzger and Perkins discussed the need for raising up leaders and churches whose concern for the poor far outweigh their own self-concern. In the second session, Dr. Metzger challenged us with the statement that, “none of us are free if one of us is chained” (referencing a Lynyrd Skynyrd song). We have a hard time sensing that we are bound up together in solidarity with one another for good or for ill. In the third session, Perkins addressed the three r’s of his community development model: relocation, reconciliation and redistribution. The second day of talks focused on spiritual formation and building a network of ministry and service partnerships where the church of the greater Portland-Metro area learns how to work with others toward helping people in community own the pond together.
This all requires a genuine paradigm shift. Right now, we live in a culture that tells us to congregate with those we like. We are often encouraged to sacrifice little and gain much. We are sometimes told to take back America and take out our enemies. But the gospel paints a different picture. And it is one that we, facing 21st century challenges, are called to respond to and participate in. Christ has called us to join him in his grand narrative of identifying with “the least of these.” But how do we get beyond the brokenness, the individualism, the segregation, the gentrification to respond holistically and redemptively, struggling for solidarity with others through our union with Christ Jesus?