Reflections on the BCM New England 2016 Spring Conference
On the weekend of February 5th-6th, 2016 Black Campus Ministries New England held its yearly Conference, this year themed: “Still I Rise: The Hope of Christ in the Midst of Darkness”. This year was our biggest conference (300 students) – fitting for its 25th anniversary. Throughout the weekend students and staff were encouraged to think about how Jesus, through the Kingdom He initiated, offers for all black people the opportunity to rise in a way that is unique, one that empowers all to rise over the manifold forms of oppression we experience due to the ravaging effects of sin in this world. We’re thankful that this Kingdom has no end, and that in it oppression and crying are no more. Praise God for its expansion.
As our semesters move on from the weekend, God insists that we hold onto the salient work God was doing in us while at Morning Star Baptist Church. It is the fervent hope of the BCM Staff and me that all the attendees walked away with a precious nugget or two that y’all can cultivate on your campuses.
Through the panel (watch a replay of the panel HERE), seminars, keynotes, and worship, we wanted to give students an understanding of their identities in Christ – as ones beautifully and uniquely formed, regardless of what the world says – as well as their calls from God to be intentionally building on the mission Jesus initiated while He walked this Earth. While identity and mission are distinct, they are inextricably linked. We rise over the pain that comes when our worth and humanity are assaulted, but we also rise by taking up the mantle God has for us (as was the case with Jeremiah, the prophet we studied together).
The conference was certainly not meant to be exhaustive, but rather a Launchpad for further exploration into all we discussed (be it for understanding theological differences of Christianity and Islam, continuing to heal from sexual assault, or speaking up as a prophetic black woman in the Church). I really hope that you felt somewhat unfulfilled or unsatisfied by the conference. The conference was meant to unseat and challenge as well as encourage and enliven. On the other hand, if the conference was able to give you everything you needed then perhaps you need to dream bigger with God! The disciples were constantly having the horizons be expanded. May yours also be.
Let the conference serve as a booster into deeper explorations with God and others about your identity and calling, about Jesus the ever-present hope on which you can call in your beautiful dark body and/or in the midst of your dark circumstances. The world is waiting for black people to challenge all kinds of status quo, from gender stereotypes to classist ideologies to political rhetoric that leaves the underbelly of society untouched. We BCM Staff look forward to seeing what comes of your time with us during that short weekend. May your fruit be thirty, sixty, and hundred times what was sown.
Julian Reid is the InterVarsity BCM NE Regional Coordinator and staff leader at Yale University.