A North St. Louis congregation is hosting its 3rd Annual Beloved Community Conference October 27 – 30 to equip people of faith to work toward Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of peace and justice.
Saint John’s United Church of Christ (UCC), located at 4136 N. Grand Blvd., is partnering in this year’s effort to mobilize faith communities to reduce youth violence with the theme Suffer the Children: Mobilizing Hope in Schools and Streets.
The gathering will include an open forum style “sacred conversation,” organizing training for faith leaders, a holy hip-hop concert for youth, Kingian non-violence training for teens, free community health screening and culminating community worship.
The Rev. Adam Taylor, vice president of Advocacy for World Vision, USA, a Christian humanitarian organization focused on helping children in poverty, will visit from Washington, D.C. to kick off the conference and facilitate the faith leaders’ institute.
Taylor previously served as a White House Fellow in the White House Office of Cabinet Affairs and Public Engagement. He was formerly the Senior Political Director at Sojourners, where he was responsible for leading the organization's advocacy, coalition building and constituency outreach. He is the author of Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post Civil Rights Generation.
The conference will launch 6 p.m. Thursday with a reception and 7 p.m. “Sacred Conversation on Youth Violence” featuring reflections of faith and action from FBI Special Agent Matthew Brummond, Municipal Court Judge Roberta Hitts and Taylor as a keynote. Music will be provided by the Cathedral Choir of Washington Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church.
On Friday, the Faith Leaders’ Institute will begin at 9 a.m. led by Taylor. The workshop will equip faith leaders to use community organizing strategy and their own theological foundations to address the challenge of youth violence. The day session will break for lunch with Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce. Later on Friday, the entire community is invited for a free 6 p.m. reception and 7 p.m. concert with P-Dub and the Youth, Fly and Saved Movement.
Saturday morning sessions will begin at 9 a.m. Reverend David Gerth, executive director of Metropolitan Congregations United, will discuss local advocacy efforts to organize churches at the intersection of education, health and youth violence. Charles Alphin Jr. of Building Life Foundations will train teens in Kingian Non-Violence strategies. From 10 a.m.-2 p.m., the church is hosting its annual community health fair. Free health screenings, flu shots, physicals, prizes and a healthy lunch will await all participants.
The weekend will close with Sunday’s 10:30 a.m. Community Worship Celebration with the Rev. C.J. Duvall Jr. of Theressa Hoover United Methodist Church in Little Rock, Arkansas preaching. Duvall is returning to the Fairgrounds neighborhood where is father led the Fifth Baptist Church for many years.
All events are free and open to the public. Institutes and meals do require registration. For more information on registration, call 314-570-1901 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.