Practicing Our Values
Once again we are starting to discuss the kingdom values that we want to under gird the conference. We are still grappling with the dilemmas this raises for us especially as it leads to difficult decisions at times – like choosing to shape the conference around our values rather than opting for what is the cheapest way to do things. And with the tight budget we have that is not always an easy decision. However it does encourage us all to use our creativity and imagination to consider new ways to do things.
First we want this conference to reflect our concerns for the marginalized. A number of the workshops should highlight this but we also want it to be reflected in other aspects of the conference – like serving fair trade tea and coffee. Reflecting this value in how we provide meals is a little more challenging. We don’t want to do box lunches – that would create a mountain of waste for us to get rid of – not at all good for the environment (and environmental concern is another one of our strong values). We have thought of getting a group like Heroes (a program that helps people reclaim their lives by teaching them to be chefs) to do our lunches again but that does not seem to be practical this time. So we are investigating other options. If you have any ideas we would love to hear from you.
Second we want to raise concerns about environmental issues. We plan to use bags that are made from recycled materials again and will use the same recycled plastic mugs we used forte last conference. The plan is that each person gets one mug to last them through the conference – no paper & certainly no styrofoam. The idea is to cut down on the mountain of waste that normally occurs at an event like this.
However we would like to challenge participants to show concern for their environment in other ways too. When Shane Claiborne travels he asks people at his destination to cut back on their driving in order to save the amount of fuel that would be required to jet him from home to that destination. Maybe that is something that all of us should consider doing. At the least we want to encourage participants to car pool, walk or bicycle or use public transport as much as possible.
Third we want to emphasize the concept of Biblical wholeness and the values of God’s shalom kingdom. We want to enable participants to connect to resources that enable them to develop rhythms of wholeness for their lives and communities. We also hope that participants will create their own models of life and ministry that reflect God’s rhythms of wholeness. I teach a class on cross cultural adaptation and one of the questions I like to ask is – what will the culture of the kingdom of God look like? Most of us have no idea. We believe that at the centre will be the values of love and compassion, justice for the poor, concern for those at the margins and freedom from oppression. I think a lot of people will get a shock when they enter the kingdom of God because it will be a real cross cultural experience for them.
Examining our values and grappling with the implications for our lives is so important for all of us but it is never easy and has consequences for everything we do – even for our participation in conferences. Would appreciate any comments you may have on what other values we should seek to represent and how we can represent these effectively during our conference.
Shalom – Christine