Two months from today we’ll be gathered for the CenterPeace Conference! It’s hard to believe that it’s been four years since we were able to be together in-person – and yet we’re so grateful for the technology that allowed us to connect virtually in 2020. But we missed the comfort of hugs and the reassurance of smiles, the fellowship over cookies and conversation around meals, and just simply sharing physical space that all of us humans need. Imagining seeing all of you again – and meeting all the new friends who are coming – well, that just gets me excited!
Over the next two months I’ll be writing here, on the CenterPeace Blog, about what’s in store for us at the 2022 Conference. Hopefully this will help newcomers know what to expect and feel more comfortable. And hopefully for all of us, when you hear more of the “inside scoop” of what’s going on in and around the conference, we’ll be even more anxious to come together! Soooo much is happening that you won’t want to miss!
Let’s start with the very heart of the conference – the theme, “A Place At the Table,” and the passage of Scripture that inspired it, Luke 14 – the Parable of the Great Banquet:
“One of the dinner guests, on hearing this, said to him, ‘Blessed is anyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!’ Then Jesus said to him, ‘Someone gave a great dinner and invited many. At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land, and I must go out and see it; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please accept my regrets.’ Another said, ‘I have just been married, and therefore I cannot come.’ So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ And the slave said, ‘Sir, what you ordered has been done, and there is still room.’ Then the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the roads and lanes, and compel people to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’ ”Luke 14:15-24, NRSV updated
Since the beginnings of CenterPeace, asking God to lay the foundation of a ministry that would open conversation about faith and sexuality in churches and families across the globe, our ultimate concern was to follow the teachings of Jesus. To keep Jesus at the Center – for without him at the Center, there is no Peace. The very name of CenterPeace reminds us that Jesus always has – and always will – remain at the center of everything we do.
And this passage from Luke’s gospel presents a core tenet of Jesus’s life and teachings – welcoming people who were on the margins, typically excluded by religious folk. Jesus didn’t stop with a simple welcome, radical as that might have been in his day. He didn’t just “allow” outsiders to be in his presence – he fully embraced them and extended the invitation to work right alongside him.
Jesus made room for everyone.
He included everybody.
Nobody was left out.
For people who have been ostracized from church, from family, this passage is good news. Because this Word demonstrates God’s desire to find all of us who have felt left out – who have, in fact, been left out – and reassure us that we have “a place at the table,” too.
Join us on November 3 – 5, 2022, in Dallas, Texas, at Wilshire Baptist, an open and affirming church, as we unpack more around this radical hospitality of Jesus, particularly as it relates to LGBTQ+ Christians. The conference is for LGBTQ+ Christians and our families, church leaders, and allies. The conference is a safe place for anyone seeking to resolve conflict around faith and sexuality. Whether you plan to attend in-person or virtually, sign up now at centerpeace.net/conference. And subscribe to the blog to keep up with the latest conference news!
It’s gonna be good, y’all!
Looking forward to my second in-person CenterPeace Conference. Looking, as always, for my theology to be challenged and my heart to remain compassionate toward the LGBTQ community.