If it takes a healthy village to raise a child, what kind of villages are caring for the 80,000 kids in foster care in Canada and the countless families who are one crisis away from becoming part of this statistic? Who is caring for the pregnant mothers in crisis? Who is intervening for the family caught in cycles of poverty, losing everything, including each other? As we look around us, what our villages are craving is belonging. You and I crave this too. God created us for community.
The Church has an important role and biblical mandate to not only be good neighbours but also provide hospitality, restoration, reconciliation and hope to those around us. These outward faith actions, when rooted in love, are easier said than done – not to mention really, really messy.
Messy is, well, messy. And it doesn’t always look or feel right in pristine buildings, orderly worship services, organized strategic plans, black and white theology. It messes with my plans, my comforts, and my sense of spirituality – yet mess calls us into a beautiful struggle towards faithful obedience. Mike Yaconelli, in his book Messy Spirituality, writes “The Church is the place where the incompetent, the unfinished, and even the unhealthy are welcome. I believe Jesus agrees.”
With the rise of government social service needs, a disgraceful past with residential schools and 60’s scoop, and the natural busyness of life, the Church in general has not been adequately aware, equipped or connected to be a trusted prominent leader in our nation for the welfare of our vulnerable children and their families. Yet, caring for the marginalized has always been the DNA of our faith and has proven for thousands of years to be the catalyst and advocate for the unseen; so we simply want to bring the Church back to its roots with meaningful supports, greater awareness, and relevant tools to respond effectively. The challenge is not lost on us.
Here’s the exciting part. We are not just going to philosophize about this, we are going to gather together, equip each other, and roll up our sleeves to get messy. Church leaders, professionals, parents and everyday good neighbors are gathering at the BELONG SUMMIT 2016 in Winnipeg, MB this November 4-5. It is free for the whole family. Check out www.Belong2016.com for more information and to register.
Belong Summit is an unprecedented national faith-based event, bringing together the Christian community, along with some government, helping professionals, and community partners as we explore ways to address child-welfare disparity with effective and informed response. There is something for everyone, because everyone in the church has an important piece to this puzzle.
Key note speakers, Irene and Domingo Garcia from California, share how God restored their messy marriage and gave them 34 children through foster care, 17 of them adopted. Local pastor and foster dad, Thom Dick, challenges the church to seek renewal and purpose in walking with people in their distress. Musicians share their personal stories and songs of what belonging means to them. In addition to general sessions packed with dynamic speakers, music and story, this gathering will host two new documentary screenings with film producer panels, and over 25 workshops in 4 main tracks: Family Care, Church Leadership, Indigenous Awareness, and Global Care.
Family Care sessions will be of interest to parents and professionals involved in foster care, adoption and birth family care. Church Leadership will bring practical tools and meaningful discussions in navigating congregations and ministries through messy opportunities to create belonging. Indigenous Awareness will offer valuable workshops on understanding history, culture and current issues that the Church must wrestle with. Global Care will bring understanding to global child-welfare issues and how to effectively care on a global scale beyond the orphanage.
We hope to see you November 4-5th in Winnipeg. You Belong! Go to www.belong2016.com to register.