The Importance of the Public Church

 

Reflections by Louis Tillman

The church has come a long way since 1985 when we were established.

Yet, we still have a long ways to go.

In the Public Church class, I noticed a strong need for us a seminarians to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to each and every person that we encounter no matter what social location or context they derive from. We may be the only “walking bible” that they will encounter in their lives.

As an African-American young adult, I have always wrestled with the various systemic issues and questions that seem to be consistently swept under the rug when they are addressed from the individuals of the areas in which we visited. These are as the prophetic Howard Thurman would identify, people with their “backs against the wall”; and in my own conceptualization I would identify them as people with their “backs behind the bars.”

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The thought-provoking questions that I can’t help but raise to all audiences include the following:

When and how do we transform oppression into liberation?

 

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What oppression are we continuously seeing on an everyday basis?

How do we break these cycles of oppression?

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Is liberation ever found in certain areas of the oppressed?

How do we bring liberation to the oppressed through our ministry?

The Public Church class taught from Dr. Perry and Dr. Pickett is a critical element of the curriculum that is forcing our up incoming leaders of the church to think contextually and strive to become culturally competent for the adventures in ministry that God will deliver to them unexpectedly at their doorstep. I would strongly urge all ELCA seminaries to take an approach in this direction for their emerging leaders because it is a positive first step into the model of public church and accompaniment.

 

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Pictures by Trybal 1

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