Drum Majors Re-cap

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?

5 Responses to “Drum Majors Re-cap”

  1. benjamin malick Says:

    First, let me say that I was really challenged by this conference. After hearing both Metzger and Perkins speak at previous gatherings, I first thought that these talks would be more of the same. Been there, done that, now give me something new, something fresh and glossy. Has anyone else ever felt like that before?

    The truth is often times we really need to hear these things more than once. Not just as individuals, but hearing them together as a community is essential for change. I left the conference reminded just how important it is to keep the conversation going. Throughout the scriptures “remembering” plays such an important role in evoking change and keeping one in-tune along the journey. It’s the never-ending beat of the drum (God’s heart) that keeps us going, pressing on toward bringing the Kingdom to earth.

    The next step for me to move beyond the present state of my heart is to cultivate the art of listening. Listening to God, listening to my Christian community, and listening to my neighbors. Let them who have ears listen.

  2. Ross Halbach Says:

    I can certainly relate with you Ben. My brain automatically shuts off as soon as I begin to think I heard something I previously learned. It’s so arrogant. The funny thing is, even after sitting in Dr. Metzger’s class for three years now, I still learn something new everytime I go. And Dr. Perkins never ceases to amaze me with the way he can redemptively approach people from across the political and theological spectrum.

    Personally, I was blown away by the interactions that took place on Friday. We saw the question Kelsi posed being worked out right before our eyes. “How do we get beyond the brokenness, the individualism, the segregation, the gentrification . . .” This conference was the church moving from turf wars to collaborative harmonies. The Church of Portland is on the move, and it is moving to the beat of a different drum, as Ben so aptly stated: to the beat of God’s heart.

    May we continue to cohere as one in our collaborative efforts to manifest God’s love. For if we do, we will continue to make sweet harmonies that shall reverberates beyond our church walls. In doing such, I am excited to be just one drummer among many.

  3. Heather Minton Says:

    I also deeply appreciated the conference. It was my first chance to hear Dr. Perkins speak, and I was impressed by his inclusiveness and his compassion (not to mention his enthusiasm).

    I have to admit, though, that I came away from the conference with many of the same questions that often haunt me. And the main question was…what happens now?

    There is a lot of talk going around about new ways to engage within both the church and the world, and it’s all good and necessary. But along with that talk comes several buzzwords… We often hear of paradigm shifts, of the importance of story, and the need to move beyond our comfort zones. But how does this actually happen?

    I have often found myself feeling guilty for not DOING more, for not being more radical in living my life. And yet, I know that my value does not come from what I do. My value solely comes from Christ living in me. And I have experienced, even in my home church here in Portland, the paradigm shifts, the move from my comfort zone.

    When I first began attending my home church, I remember walking in the doors and saying, “Jesus, seriously? THIS is where I am supposed to be?” And a year later, I’m still there, and I LOVE my church. And yet, I still feel the need for more.

    So I suppose my question is, how do we know, or trust, or believe, that the paradigm doesn’t just shift continuously without a point of rest; that the story has a redemptive goal in sight, and that we don’t begin a pattern of running from every place that may be home because we fear the idea of comfort?

  4. Rachel O'Brien Says:

    I sat in a cool hallway, chatting with a fellow seminary student about his ministry teaching ex offenders life skills. Soon, another student joined us. A pastor came in and sat down, minutes later Dr. Perkins joined us. We gathered a haphazard group, just talking, chatting, sharing about what our churches and ministries were doing, ways that God was moving. The hallway was lined on either side with pews and soon there were ten of us and then fifteen. We decided to pray for the coming conference. We bowed our heads, my silly twenty five year old blonde head next to Perkins, and to my right, a church leader and next to her her husband, and around the cirle all these different heads, different minds were quieted. All the different classes and backgrounds, cultures, colors and traditions, together we all bowed our heads for Him. The prayer began slow and steady, calm and quiet, it roared into joy and intensity, our words seemed of one voice, of one purpose, my small voice, Cooky’s strong wise voice, Metzgers voice, Perkins’ voice. I wondered why is this so powerful, why don’t we live here all the time, in this chilly church hallway praying for our country for our churches, for our very soul to be bowed, bowed continually to Him? Someone said amen and we stood up. Who would have thought that we would see the day when I would bow my head with a black man in a church hallway and pray for truth, love and justice to reign. Me, who hated the church and hated pews and thought prayer was passive. I did not see that coming. That was my favorite part.

  5. Ronaldo A. Sison Says:

    It was a very redemptive event.
    During the first day, Dr. Perkins responded to a question/ concern raised, that Christians know the issues about community development networking but what was needed was action on the issue. He stated that it was- and i believe still is- necessary to continue on engaging the issue because that is how we not only ventilate it but redemptively and constructively find the ways and means to deal with the issues of community development within the spheres of biblical truth, justice and freedom. We need to talk about Reconciliation, Redistribution and Relocation and must needs to talk about it at length, often.
    Truly, i agree with his response and wholeheartedly say “Amen”, May it always be!
    How is it that as a people, we allow politicians to debate and argue issues in their legislative processes and then, we refuse to involve our theologies- and our churches- with discussing and threshing out issues, as an evangelical community? Such an attitude, albeit a cavalier one, only allows for two things: a continuing naivette, or ignorance, on how to realistically and practically engage our society and the culture of our day; and/ or two, a continuing apathy and indifference to minster to and bandage the wounds of “the least of these”, a la The Samaritan With Extraordinary Mercy (Dr. Metzger’s take).
    I found how liberating and freeing it was to go beyond the paradigm of “Give me a fish and i will eat for a day; teach me how to fish and I will eat for a lifetime”. Dr. Perkins said, “No, let me share ownership of the pond”. Not only will the poor, the disenfranchised, the underprivileged eat for a lifetime but there will be enough to go around for the others who are much less fortunate. Dr. Metzger’s slide of an icon of a non-Caucasian Jesus feeding the multitudes with that non-white boy with the loaves and the fishes was really powerful.

Leave a Reply