On Saturday, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro, TN served as a satellite location for the Values in Action 2018 conference sponsored by the Trinity Institute in New York City. The church charged on $20, which included a continental breakfast and catered lunch. The speakers included:
- Most Rev. Michael B. Curry: Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church since 2015, first African American presiding bishop.
- Michelle Alexander: civil rights lawyer, advocate, legal scholar, and best-selling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness.
- Pádraig Ó Tuama: poet and theologian based in Belfast, Ireland. Teaches religion, storytelling, and conflict transformation.
- Rev. Elizabeth M. Edman: Episcopal priest, political strategist, and author of Queer Virtue: What LGBTQ People Know About Life and Love and How It Can Revitalize Christianity.
- Jose Antonio Vargas: Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker and founder of Define American, a non-profit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America.
- Deirdre Good: Theologian in Residence at Trinity Church Wall Street, formerly served as Academic Dean at General Theological Seminary and Interim Associate Academic Dean at Drew Theological School.
- Adnan A. Zulfiqar: legal scholar, educator, strategist, Assistant Professor of Law at Rutgers Law School, a Truman National Security Fellow, and a member of the Urbane Development Collaborative.
- Rabbi Andrea L. Weiss, PhD: Associate Professor of Bible at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and Campaign Coordinator for “American Values Religious Voices: 100 Days. 100 Letters.”
- Rev. Winnie Varghese: Priest and Director of Justice and Reconciliation at Trinity Church Wall Street.
- The Rev. Dr. Mark Francisco Bozzuti-Jones: Priest & Director for Core Values & Latin America & Caribbean Relations at Trinity Church Wall Street.
The schedule included reflection group sessions, which allowed participants to discuss and process the message of and the information provided by each speaker before moving on to the next speaker.
I’m still processing the powerful messages I took with me. It may be a week or two before I can fully articulate everything I’m thinking and feeling about this profound experience. As usual, the Holy Spirit guided me to what I needed at a time that I needed it. Here are a just few of my takeaways:
- Dissent is an American value.
- Conversation is critical to changing culture.
- You should value the story enough to tell the whole truth.
- Disruptions are a necessary part of growth and development.
- You aren’t wrong to want what you want when you want to do go in the world.
St. Paul’s intends to be a satellite location for this conference again next year. I encourage you to participate if you can. As a writer and seeker of social justice, this yearly conference will be a MUST on my calendar moving forward!