At the Mennonite Church USA (MCUSA) bi-annual convention (in Kansas City, MO), Pink Menno will convene a symposium focused on intersectionality. “On the Way: Dis-Covering Diversity” will be held in Pink Menno’s hospitality space in Room 2504B of the convention center, right around the corner from the Grand Ballroom on Level 2.
The symposium will be built on four pillars: queer liberation, trauma healing and resilience, structural power within MCUSA, and resistance to white supremacy. Each pillar will have its own day focused on providing education for participants. These pillars are designed as a starting point to enable participants to continue learning in their everyday lives.
The symposium includes a number of sessions that were rejected as seminar proposals by MCUSA for the official program. “In response to a church that continues to miss the mark in providing spaces to engage in complex and justice-oriented conversations, Pink Menno has the gift of standing in the void,” says organizer Christian Parks, “We know full well that our symposium will just graze the very tip of the iceberg of issues within our changing church, yet we are fully committed to creating accountable space where all are welcome to be full selves empowered by love and genuine curiosity.”
The symposium flows out of collaborative work with Inclusive Pastors, the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC) and Our Stories Untold (OSU).
The first day, July 1st, is titled “On the Way to Queer Liberation.” It will start with a hands-on workshop using role plays to build practical skills for liberating non-violence, led by Tim Nafziger, a reservist with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). The second morning session on Gender 101 will be led by Jennifer Yoder, Communications & Engagement Director for CPT and Pink Menno leader Christian Parks. They will offer an introduction to what gender identity is. In the afternoon, “Engendering Complexity: a Panel on Gender, Identity and Empowerment” will focus on the many ways gender impacts our lived realities. The final two sessions will look specifically at what it means to queer our image of God and our understanding of Christianity through a panel discussion and a presentation entitled “Queer Theology 101” with Kathy Evans.
The second day, July 2nd, is titled “On the Way to Trauma Healing and Resilience.” Two sessions will be led by OSU bloggers and editors Barbra Graber, Rachel Halder, Stephanie Krehbiel, and Hilary Scarsella, and Pink Menno leader Jennifer Yoder. The morning session will be “Exploring the Misunderstandings: Sexualized Violence 101.” The afternoon includes a panel discussion on “What’s to be done about John Howard Yoder?: How the church perpetuates sexualized violence.”
Also starting on Thursday, confidential self-help support groups will be held off-site for survivors of sexualized violence and their loved ones. These groups will be sponsored by OSU and facilitated by leaders from The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). They are specifically for people who have had a sexualized encounter that left them feeling shocked, shamed, or disempowered by anyone inside or outside the church. All genders are welcome.
The third day, July 3rd, is titled “On the Way to Address Structural Power.” It will begin in the morning with a presentation on “Race, Sex, and the Politics of Belonging in the Mennonite Church” with Mennonite scholars Stephanie Krehbiel, Tobin Miller Shearer, and Felipe Hinojosa. In the afternoon a panel discussion on “Who’s got power?” will feature Wendi O’Neal, a cultural worker and racial justice organizer from New Orleans who was fired from her job with Mennonite Central Committee due to embedded heterosexism and white supremacy in the organization.
Our final day, July 4th is titled “Standing in Resistance Against White Supremacy” and will start with a presentation on “Displacing Whiteness” with Jennifer Yoder and Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, Interdisciplinary Queer Scholar of Theology & Ethics. Following that, Jordan Luther and Malcolm Aquinini will lead an hour long “Racism 101” offering an introductory level presentation. In the afternoon, writer and speaker Drew Hart will present on “How Anabaptism failed the Black Church.” Rachel Halder will lead a closing ceremony for the symposium entitled “From Loss to Transformation.”
Along with the symposium, Pink Menno will lead open hymn sings throughout the convention center and co-convene a worship service with the Inclusive Pastors and the Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests (BMC). This worship service, focused around the theme “Bound Together, Together Free”, will be held on Tuesday, June 30th at 5 p.m. and located at Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, across the street from the Convention Center.
The symposium is free, though donations welcome. Registration for the MCUSA convention is required to access the Pink Menno hospitality room.
For more information on all these events including more detailed descriptions and times, please visit http://pinkmenno.org. For press inquiries, contact Christian Parks at [email protected], phone (302) 268-4087.