By Cate Monaghan
Communications Director, CA-NV Annual Conference
After concerns about shared facilities were raised during a General Commission on Religion and Race review of the California-Nevada Annual Conference in January, 2010, and legislation aimed at addressing those concerns was passed by the Annual Conference Session in June, GCORR has scheduled a Churchwide event near to home that can be a valuable resource for Cal-Nevada clergy, lay leaders, and congregations.
Early registration begins December 15 for GCORR's Cross-Racial/Cross-Cultural Event, "Facing the Future," May 15-18, 2011 in Los Angeles.
At Cal-Nevada's Annual Conference Session this year, members adopted Item 29, "Resolution Supporting Shared Facilities Through Cultural Competency Training," calling for the Conference to "develop and make available … joint cultural competency training for the clergy and local church lay leadership in shared facilities" beginning in 2011. Clergy and congregations currently in shared facility appointments must take the training before the 2012 ACS.
The resolution also stipulates that such training shall be a condition for approval of future shared facility arrangements.
"This legislation is specifically aimed at increasing the cross-cultural and cross-racial competency of the pastors and relevant leadership in the congregations," says Lucia Ann ("Shan") McSpadden, coordinator of international student support at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley and a member of the Conference Commission on Religion and Race, in a GCORR article, "Rules of the House." McSpadden says, "The assumption would be that if people become more conscious of what's needed in order to work together across cultural values and language and racial ethnic histories, with respect and awareness, that it would enable more effective addressing of some of these issues. But the intention of the legislation is not to sit down and pound out rules for 'this is how we're going to do things in this church.'"
Rules of the House also includes interviews with a number of Cal-Nevada pastors dealing with shared facility issues.
While GCORR's "Facing the Future" event in Los Angeles is not a substitute for the Conference training mandated by Item 29, it can be useful to leaders and congregations struggling with the dynamics of shared facilities. "It is a journey," McSpadden says. "I'm not naïve enough to think that a one-day event will make effective cross-cultural communicators. Our hope is that by giving some beginning tools, people can increase their competency as they work together."
"Facing the Future" will involve bishops, district superintendents, local church leaders, Conference leaders, pastors and their spouses, and more in discussion of ways to resource and train leaders, create communities, and help identify and address racism, sexism, and cultural bias experienced in cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments.
Check gcorr.org for registration details in the coming weeks.