Globally the threats of terrorism, violence, and environmental challenges continue to shadow our world. Locally, cultural divisions are being exploited for political advantage, whilst poverty and systemic injustice continue to lead to widening equity gaps within our society.
We live in complex and challenging times, but Jesus’ message - Love thy neighbor, is still our greatest call to Worship and Justice.
This magnificient city has both a historic and current focus on justice issues. We love Chicago’s vibrant multiethnic culture of creativity, innovative thinking, and precedent for deploying dynamic Christian leaders. It doesn’t get much better than Chicago in June.
Alma L. Zaragoza-Petty was born and raised in Los Angeles and Acapulco de Juarez, Mexico. The firstborn of three, Alma is the daughter of immigrant parents who were granted amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986.
Alma was inspired and supported by her parents to pursue a higher education and is a first generation high school and college graduate and, having discovered a sincere passion for helping students from first generation and low socioeconomic communities gain access to higher educational institutions, she went onto complete a Ph.D. in Education.
Assisting students with personal backgrounds paralleling her own made her very cognizant of the lack of resources faced by educationally disenfranchised groups. These experiences shaped her commitment to education and intellectual pursuits.
Andy is executive editor of Christianity Today. He serves on the governing boards of Fuller Theological Seminary, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, and Equitas Group, a philanthropic organization focused on ending child exploitation in Haiti and Southeast Asia. He is also a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission’s IJM Institute.
In his new book Strong and Weak: Embracing a Life of Love, Risk and True Flourishing, Andy Crouch continues his compelling exploration of faith and culture.
The Brilliance is made up of duo David Gungor and John Arndt. With the foundation of a lifelong friendship centered on musical collaboration, the two compose an inspired and unique approach to modern songwriting. The Brilliance does not leave the complexity to their instruments only, but with a poignant perspective, the lyrics and melodies capture the listener - inviting them into a life of mindfulness and challenging them to take positive action. Released earlier in 2016, their latest EP ‘See The Love’ is meant as a hopeful protest album based on love, forgiveness, and non-violence. “Listening for the voices of the oppressed, and hearing their stories. Learning to lament with those who are experiencing the violence and pain. And then, learning how to forgive together”.
In 2011, at age 30, Rev. Charlie Edward Dates became the youngest Senior Pastor in Chicago’s Progressive Baptist Church’s rich 95-year history.
In 2002, Rev. Charlie served as an apprentice to Pastor K. Edward Copeland and started his formal, practical training at the New Zion Baptist Church of Rockford, Illinois. In 2006, he began serving as the primary preaching assistant to the Rev. James Meeks, Director of Church Operations and as Pastor of Adult Ministries at the Salem Baptist Church of Chicago.
He successfully defended his disseration for the PhD in Historical Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. His original research focuses on the health of proclamation in late 20th Century Black Church Chicago.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Pastor Charlie has served as an Adjunct Professor at the Moody Bible Institute and currently serves on the Community Advisory Board for the Chicago Fire Department. He is a contributor to the 2014 book Letters To A Birmingham Jail.
Bio Coming Soon!
Harvey Carey is the Founder and Senior Pastor of the Citadel of Faith Covenant Church in Detroit, Michigan. He developed a nationally emulated youth ministry model that has reached thousands of teens in inner-cities across the nation. His inspiring leadership and vision for urban renewal unites people across boundaries of race, age, class and culture.
Jasmin Cardenas is an actress, storyteller, arts educator, and social activist who identifies as Colombian, American and Human. Using Theater of the Oppressed (TO) techniques Jasmin has been working in communities all over Chicago to explore issues of power, conflict, race, struggle and civic engagement. Facilitating workshops for educators, adult community residents and young people in community dialogue, social justice work and devising original performance work has taught Jasmin the power of community in action. She strongly believes that art can move people and communities towards social consciousness. Her work is rooted in the idea that hearing stories can build bridges that offer empathy, understanding and healing. Jasmin has been an award recipient of the Race Bridges Storytelling Fellowship, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and the Chicago Department of Family and Support Services.
Jenny Yang is the Vice President of Advocacy & Policy at World Relief, focusing on advocacy for refugees.
Jenny is co-author of Welcoming the Stranger: Justice, Compassion and Truth in the Immigration Debate; Chair of the Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) Africa Work Group which brings NGOs and government partners together on the protection of African refugees, and was recently named as “50 Women to Watch” by Christianity Today.
Jon Guerra is steadily being recognized as one of today’s most gifted, intellectual and groundbreaking singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalists. Rraised in Wheaton, IL, a salt-of-the-earth Midwestern small town, Jon is a member of Vertical Church Band, as well as an independent artist. Jon’s goal is the ministry of art, believing that artists can love their neighbor as they love themselves, while keeping their finger on the pulse of what makes a good song and what makes good art. “Hopefully I can say beautiful things, sing beautifully and then let the beauty do its work.”
Jim Wallis is president and founder of Sojourners in Washington, DC. a movement committed to “putting faith into action for social justice.” He is a bestselling author, public theologian, national preacher, social activist, and international commentator on ethics and public life. He has just released his latest book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Jim served on President Obama’s first White House Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and as the chair of the Global Agenda Council on Values of the World Economic Forum.
Lisa Sharon Harper takes a faith-rooted approach to advocacy and organizing & has activated people across the U.S. and around the world to address structural and political injustice as an outward demonstration of their personal faith.
Prior to joining Sojourners, Lisa was the founding executive director of New York Faith & Justice — an organization at the hub of a new ecumenical movement to end poverty in New York City. She also organized faith leaders to speak out for immigration reform and organized the South Bronx Conversations for Change, a dialogue-to-change project between police and the community.
Lisa was recognized in 2015 as one of “50 Powerful Women Religious Leaders to Celebrate on International Women’s Day” by the Huffington Post.
Mark Charles is a speaker, writer, and consultant from Fort Defiance, AZ, located on the Navajo Reservation. The son of an American woman (of Dutch heritage) and a Navajo man, Mark seeks to understand the complexities of American history regarding race, culture, and faith in order to help forge a path of healing and reconciliation for the nation. Mark serves on the board of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) and is the Washington DC correspondent and regular columnist for Native News Online.
The Rev. Dr. Michael Louis Pfleger is Senior Pastor of The Faith Community of Saint Sabina on the South Side of Chicago, IL.
Since 1968, Father Pfleger has lived and ministered in the African-American community on both the west and south sides of Chicago. He spent two Summers working in a Native American community in Oklahoma, and did his seminary internship as a Chaplin at Cook County Jail and at Precious Blood Catholic Church, both in Chicago.
Father Pfleger has been widely recognized and profiled for his fight against alcohol and tobacco billboards, drugs, the glorificaton of violence, degradation of women, easy access to guns and racism. He was portrayed in Spike Lee’s recent movie Chi-Raq by John Cusack.
As a minister, Father Pfleger has sought to break down the walls of racism and denominationalism by building unity among all people founded on truth and based on Jesus’ command to love one another. This holy calling has led him to be parent, a preacher, a teacher, a lecturer and an activist.
A Detroit native, Nicole graduated from the University of Michigan and joined Teach For America (TFA) where she taught 5th grade in Compton, CA. Nicole received her doctorate in education from UCLA with a focus on urban education policy and teacher preparation. She joined the national staff of TFA and held several key leadership roles before starting The Expectations Project, an organization committed to working for students everywhere to receive an amazing education, regardless of the zip code they live in, money their parents make, or the color of their skin.
A poet, political activist, husband, father, academic, & emcee. With LA flowing through his veins & armed with a bold message, Propaganda has assembled a body of work that challenges his listeners with every verse & reaches across the spectrum of pop culture. From aggressive battle raps to smooth introspective rhythms, Propaganda's music will cause you to nod your head, but more importantly, it will stretch your mind & heart.
Russell Moore is President of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the moral concerns and public policy entity of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. He is a frequent cultural commentator, an ethicist and theologian by background, and an ordained Southern Baptist minister. Moore is author of several books, including Onward: Engaging the Culture without Losing the Gospel.
Tony Campolo is professor emeritus of sociology at Eastern University, & the founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education. He has written more than 35 books, and is a blogger and co-founder of the Red Letter Christian movement.
In November 2012, Tony Campolo received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Youth Worker’s Convention honouring Tony’s life of ministry and leadership which has left a legacy of encouragement and hope to youth workers and students everywhere.
Reverend Traci D. Blackmon is the Acting Executive Minister of Justice and Witness Ministries for The United Church of Christ. She is also a Pastor at Christ the King United Church of Christ in Florissant, Missouri, where she has served since 2009. Reverend Blackmon previously served as Coordinator of Health, Mind, Body, and Spirit for BJC HealthCare, and as Pastor of Simpson Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Columbia, Missouri. Reverend Blackmon has thirty years of experience in the healthcare industry and served on The Ferguson Commission. She received a B.S. from Birmingham-Southern College and an M.Div. from Eden Theological Seminary. Reverend Blackmon was also recently appointed to the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
As Christians we believe that all children should have access to the resources, opportunities and hope they need to thrive and fulfil their God-given potential. Unfortunately, even though the United States is often described as the Land of Opportunity, 16 million of our nation’s children -- one in five -- grow up living in poverty. Children make up roughly 24% of the U.S. population but comprise 1/3 of our nation’s poor people.
Whether we’re talking about hunger and nutritional disparities, educational inequality, or the opportunity gap, there really are two Americas, where situation a child is born into results in radically different experiences and outcomes, usually along lines of race and class. Access to nutritious food, quality education and other social and community interventions affect our ability to actually end poverty in our communities.
Why should a child’s zip code determine their destiny? You have the power to make a difference.
Throughout the Scriptures, God speaks of our purpose to rebuild, restore and renew all that is broken (Isaiah 61). When we work to end childhood poverty and meet the real needs of children in our communities we partner in God’s work to remove the barriers that impede the flourishing God intended for all people.
The Poverty in America stream will be a highly interactive day addressing innovative solutions to the root causes of childhood poverty. This stream is for justice seekers from all sectors: local pastors, non-profit and business leaders, students, academics, government officials, and others. We will gather together to wrestle through questions of how Christians can faithfully address childhood poverty. Attendees will learn theological foundations for advocacy, experience briefings and panel discussions on child poverty from national experts, network together and strategize practical tools to take action.
Discover your role in this significant time in our national story. Now more then ever, we need to explore the complicated world of racial bias, systemic and institutional conflict, and sectarianism.
Learn more about Middle East Refugee Crisis and understand how the Church can be a key agent of hope and compassion in this complex humanitarian crisis. The 2016 Refugee stream focus areas will include both context in the Middle East and Refugee resettlement in the US.
Unleashing Justice: Organizing Social Justice Ministries in Churches
This track will offer panel discussions and training sessions designed to introduce congregations to the basics of faith-based organizing principles and practices. The core issues related to mass criminalization, mass incarceration, criminal justice reform, peacemaking and other systemic reform will ground our trainings sessions and discussions.
Participants can expect to be introduced to: A Theology of Resistance; Social Justice using the Body, the Ballot and the Buck; LIVE FREE & Let My People Vote.
Invited Trainers include: Rev. Michael McBride, Rev. Michael Ray Mathews, Rahiel Tesfamariam, Onleilove Alston, Rev. Ben McBride, Lucy McBath, Troy Jackson
Human trafficking is one of the fastest growing criminal activities in the U.S. and around the world. Regardless of whether we accept it or not, labor and sex trafficking touches us all. But there is hope! People of faith are demanding the end to modern-day slavery. Join us to learn how you too can address the root causes of trafficking and prevent this atrocity. In this track, we will dive deeper into the issue, hear from experts who serve on the frontlines – both locally and internationally - and walk away with tools and strategies to impact your community and around the world.
By addressing root causes of injustice and freeing people from legal burdens, this track will provide training to build collaborative networks addressing legal, social and spiritual needs. Participants will learn how to assess needs, build on assets, form a team, and understand legal issues and resources. Perfect for individuals who want to do justice, lawyers who need support, and church leaders who want to have a kingdom impact. Engage in interactive discussions with legal-aid leaders, including Bruce Strom, CEO of Gospel Justice Initiative, author of Gospel Justice, and leaders from Administer Justice and Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic.
Spend the day at World Relief Chicago, a local refugee resettlement agency. Get a firsthand look into the refugee resettlement process by participating in World Relief Chicago's original refugee simulation. Participants will also spend an hour interacting directly with refugee and immigrant students in our onsite English as a Second Language classes.
Chicago Neighborhood Initiatives is a neighborhood-based community development organization whose mission is to strengthen Chicago area low- to moderate-income communities by collaborating with neighborhood stakeholders on community development efforts, acting as a developer and resource that supports economic development and neighborhood revitalization, and coordinating capital and resources to support community projects. Spend the day in the historic Chicago Pullman District, recently established as a district as a National Monument within the National Park System, seeing firsthand the work of CNI.
The area code 60624 was recently named Chicago’s most distressed zip code by the Economic Innovation Group’s “Distressed Communities Index”. In the heart of that zip code in the East Garfield Park community on Chicago's west side, Breakthrough Urban Ministries serves as a beacon of community hope. Operating out of five sparkling facilities, Breakthrough serves as a community hub, bringing people together to build strong networks of support around children and their families and those caught in the cycle of poverty and homelessness. Spend the day having a tour of Breakthrough's campus, and learning from Executive Director, Arloa Sutter, and her leadership team about Breakthrough's strategy for community transformation and lessons learned along the way.
By The Hand Club For Kids provides children who live in high-risk, inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago with after-school programs that emphasize academic excellence while nurturing the whole child—mind, body and soul. Spend the day at By The Hand having hands on experience in how these programs are developed and operated.