There are many reasons to attend the PAD Conference. For many attendees the PAD Conference has made a difference in their lives and for their churches. We hear from inspiring people who have been enriched by attending the PAD Conference
2007...St. Louis, MO...Eye opening, new people and experiences. A chance to learn how to be a successful Christian man of color who is same gender loving...after trying to read and learn this new idea of church and it's ability to be inclusive with practice and community. This PAD conference was my first MCC conference and it opened the door for me to fall more in love with UFMCC and what WE have to offer. It gave me a chance to shake hands with the Elders, meet and personally embrace a same gender loving female Bishop of color… in person… for the first time and to dig deep into a book labeled the Holy Bible.
2010…Washington DC...The city of circled streets and home of the POTUS!!! This conference was a major shift for me. It was the first time I was able to see the White House, enjoy the convenience of public transportation and meet a new set of MCC folk along with reconnecting with my other MCC siblings. Attending the conference this year taught me more about being concretely confident when sharing my journey about my sexuality and spirituality, being transparent when ministering to the community around me and to learn more about the HEro’s and SHEro’s of our movement within the human rights church for all people.
2014…Atlanta, GA…I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences that I have had through the years. I have been attending Resurrection MCC since 2004 and I have grown more in my spirituality in the last 10 years than I ever have before as a young adult same gender loving man of color. Without our People of African Decent conference, I wouldn’t have been able to get to know other people of color who are journeying towards making our world a better place to love God, embrace community and fight on the global level for justice for all people. UFMCC has so much to offer as a radically inclusive denomination and our PAD conference is just the icing on the cake!! Join me in Atlanta!
A Word from Rev. Elder Darlene Garner to Pastors and Church Leadership
- Promote the PAD Conference through your church announcements, newsletter, web page postings, and Facebook using the conference link http://padconference.
- Encourage and sponsor participation of people of African descent and allies from your church.
- Contribute to the Pillar fund.
- Place an ad in the program book.
- Sponsor a conference event.
PAD Conference 2014 – Be The Change – It Starts with You
Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches People of African Descent in MCC is a movement with a movement. As the Moderator of MCC, I am always proud to participate and support the PAD Conference, which is a highlight for so many of us in our triennial cycle of events. I want to acknowledge and thank the team that has been working diligently to finalize the details for this amazing conference: the Convener, Rev. Elder Darlene Garner; the Planning Chair, Rev. Candy Holmes, and her planning team; and the Office of Emerging Ministries staff: Shannon Young and Rev. Vickey Gibbs. If you have never been to a PAD Conference, I want to encourage you to put this on your calendar now, and join my wife Paula and me in Atlanta. The worship, the fellowship, the learning opportunities, and the insights that come from engaging the world through the lens of People of African Descent and allies in MCC is transformative, every time. One of the geniuses of our MCC movement is the way in which we celebrate the beauty and particularity of our cultures and identities. God is surely revealed in those particularities. I have always found the PAD experience to be challenging and inspiring – a place where people do not mince words, or hold back – where courage and honesty are on display, and we are all stretched as we go back to our churches and ministries. And where we play as hard as we work and worship . . . . I remember sermons at PAD like I remember them from General Conference – the special guests, the prophetic word, the connection between MCC and other partner organizations with whom we share this struggle for justice. The sense of being part of changing the world, the Church, history itself. We cannot be the change if we do not risk showing up! It starts with you, your church and community. Make sure your church is well represented at PAD, and that you bring your whole self, your heart, your hopes with you. It does start with you, and you will not be disappointed. I promise!
Impressions from PAD Conference
from Rev. Cedric Harmon, Pastor, City of Refuge, Washington, DC
Empowered and Inspired
by Norma J. Sharp, MCCNY I have been blessed to have attended every PAD conference since 1998. Each one has enriched my life. At MCCNY, our local group Christians of African Descent was born right after that first gathering down Greenbelt way.
The Simple Truth – Rev. Robin Gorsline
I went to my first PAD Conference in 2006 in Tampa. It was one of the richest, most spiritually rewarding experiences of my life. I vowed then not to miss any in the future. So, I was in St. Louis in 2008—even better than the first. I am sometimes asked, “Why do you, Robin, about as WASP as they come, participate in the People of African Descent Conference?’ I have several ways of approaching this, but no matter the words I use, the truth is simple: my life as a pastor, as a Christian, as a U.S. citizen, as a human being, is not complete without Africa and African peoples. I cannot be all God calls me to be if I leave out that part of my life. “But how,” those people ask, “can Africa and African people be part of your life?” I cannot fully answer that, because it is a God thing. I just know it. I know it deep in my bones. And I have known it for a long time, so for many years I have done some things to address the need. I have tried to be an ally to all people of colors. Of course, justice requires us to stand up against prejudice and discrimination. Of course, justice requires that we identify the role of racism in our economic system, in our criminal justice system, in our healthcare system—and do something about it. But at the PAD Conferences, I was invited to go a lot deeper, to connect spiritually in ways I had not known before. At the two PAD conferences, I began to connect to the joy that links me and Africa and African peoples. As a result, I have allowed myself to move forward in being reunited with the totality of my roots—the parts that got left out in my upbringing, the parts that got left out of the hymnals out of which I sang, the parts I did not see in the Bible, the parts I did not want to know about in my church. Some may see this as challenging—hard work—and it can be that at times. There is “stuff” for me to unpack and for which I feel the need to apologize. But the far bigger reality is that claiming the parts of life that were left out is intensely satisfying. Jesus said, I came that you might have life and have it abundantly. Going to PAD is, for me, one of the ways that is coming true.
My Roots – by Mikal Slack
Testimony By Mykal O. Slack, Director of Worship & Clergy Candidate Vision of Hope MCC – Mountville, Reading & York, PA Perhaps you’ve encountered the Tree of Life before and just didn’t know it! Remember Rafiki, the old and wise mandrill from The Lion King, who presents newborn lion cubs to all the animals at Pride Rock? Well, he made his home in one. If you’ve read “The Little Prince,” it’s cited as the tree that could split a small planet into pieces. If you know me, you may have even seen one on my favorite shoulder bag! This Tree of Life, or Baobab (ˈbā-ə-bab) Tree, is truly one of a kind. Also called the bottle tree, or the upside down tree, it can be found in the savannahs of Africa and India and some parts of Australia. It can grow as tall as 98 feet and develop a trunk as wide in diameter as 36 feet. They are considered among the oldest trees on the earth, and every part of the tree can be used to sustain life. In the wet months, water is stored in its thick, fire-resistant trunk for the nine months of dry weather that will follow. The bark is used for cloth and rope, while the leaves can be used as condiments, as well as for their healing powers. And the fruit, also called “monkey bread,” is supposed to be quite tasty. A dear old friend once said that the branches of the baobab reach up toward heaven so that God can give it everything God has to offer, just so the tree can then pass those wonders on to each one of us.