I’ll never forget the Fall of 2002. It was my first CCDA Conference held at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena, California. Being new to the world of urban ministry I wasn’t sure what to expect, and what I found was well beyond anything I anticipated. There was a sense of family in the CCDA network that was nearly palpable. The Conference was a bit smaller back then, but it was obvious through the camaraderie and hugs in the halls and pews that if you were part of CCDA you were family and this was the family reunion. Having grown up in Christian contexts the family sense wasn’t new necessarily, but what was unique was the diversity of the family. There were Jesus loving hippy types, former felons, business-minded men and women, male and female pastors, people from all ethnic backgrounds, education levels and socioeconomic levels. It’s was (and still remains) a beautiful family portrait!
During the plenaries and workshops I was struck by the passion of Christians who were engaged in bringing Kingdom transformation to their cities and neighborhoods. As a recent seminary graduate with a calling to “missions” and an intercultural ministry degree under my belt, I wondered how I had been in the church my whole life, had been educated to become a “professional minister” and had not learned the things that were being presented at the Conference. I was challenged. My frameworks were being deconstructed and reconstructed, and in it all God was forming in me a love for justice and vulnerable communities right here in the US. I had new eyes with which to see the world and read the Scriptures as I went back home after the Conference (not to mention a whole bunch of questions).
Since that first conference nearly 15 years ago I have grown tremendously in my understanding of the CCD philosophy and God’s heart for justice and the marginalized. I’ve practiced CCD in church contexts and outside of church contexts, both domestically and internationally, and have had the privilege of teaching it to so many along the way. My frameworks continue to be challenged in healthy ways each year at the Conference and growth is ever my companion on the journey. The one thing that is different now versus 15 years ago is that I’m no longer a stranger to the family when I walk in the room. I AM family, this is my family and I’m proud of us. I’m looking forward to our reunion this Fall and I hope to see you there!