Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Was Impressed

I actually have a few minutes on the plane from Nashville so I will catch up on my blog. I made my usual yearly trek to the annual Churches of Christ Scholar’s Conference. This year it was held at David Lipscomb University in Nashville. I had only been to Nashville once (1992) with Lori but have never seen the campus. I came to present papers on Male Violence (for my book next year—Am I Sleeping With the Enemy?), Poverty, Displacement, and our work with Dignity Village, and the final paper on a Hebrew text in Proverbs. As usual it is a blast spending time researching, writing, and presenting papers with colleagues and discussing their papers as well.

I was struck by the campus when I got there on Thursday. Very nice—beautiful to say the least. I stayed in a dorm room and enjoyed it. The school is doing about 50 million dollars work of renovations on the campus. We heard great lectures by former Senator Bill Frist (who is a heart surgeon and spends months in Africa doing surgery and fighting AIDS). He shared with us that the US has invested the most money and research of any country in the world to fight AIDS. Of the 25 medical advancements against AIDS the US is responsible for 23 of them. I heard James Wallis (of Sojourners) talk the next night about global poverty and the responsibility Christians have to address this. I was blown away. They were great speeches—yet given in the context of a university spending 50+ million dollars on buildings on the campus. The campus is inviting and gives the impression that people take pride in their school. However, it seemed odd to hear the messages I was hearing while looking around.

Then I heard Randy Lowrey, the president of DLU speak. He shared with us that the school plans in the next 24 months to double the salaries of the lowest paid staff and provide all of them with health insurance. He discussed how the current insurance program was taking money out of the lowest paid staff salaries—so the school is building a school of pharmacy, clinic, and nursing program to provide a clinic for all employees. This clinic will be free. In addition the clinic will provide free medical care for the county residents near the school. Wow! That’s awesome. That’s something out of Shane Clairborne’s Irresistible Revolution. I came away impressed not only by the buildings but the hearts of the leaders at the school.

David Fleer put on a great conference full of social justice discussions which reminded me that the churches of Christ are embracing the ministry of Jesus. Not all of our churches are focused on worship issues and doctrinal arguments. More and more are focusing on people and ministries that free the oppressed.

I am impressed!

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