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Sat, Jun 04



Trouble the Water

Hosted by the Building Bridges Team - Keynote Speaker Rev Dr Albert Starr

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Time & Location

Jun 04, 2022, 9:00 AM – 12:30 PM


About the Event

Keynote Speaker Rev Dr Albert Starr - Jesus raises a question, “ Do you want to get well?”     Without question, racism is toxic and poisons the body politic and even the body of Christ in ways that all too often go undiagnosed and unattended.

We will gather around the Pool of Bethesda and watch for messengers of mercy to “ Trouble the Water”.

Workshops by:

  • Dr Helen Davis on White Privilege
  • Rev Lamont Wells - African Descent Lutheran Association
  • Phil Morice Brubaker - Theology and Social Justice
  • Shedya Brown - Community Organizing


People of African Descent: Recognition, Justice and Development - 10:30am

Presented by Rev Lamont Anthony Wells

In December 2013, The United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution 68/237 declaring 2014-2024- International Decade for People of African Descent (IDPAD).  The ELCA's African Descent Lutheran Association has embraced this declaration for the Decade and has created a unique platform that emphasises the important contribution made by people of African descent to every society, and promotes concrete measures to stop discrimination and promote their full inclusion. This workshop indentifies the objectives of IDPAD and will educate, encourage, and train the participants on the United Nation's mechanisms that local communities can advocate and implement in support of racial reconciliation.

Understanding White Privilege - 10:30am

Presented by Dr Helen Davis

I'm sure that you've heard the term "white privilege," but what does it mean? It doesn't mean that white people automatically have an easy life, or that they don't also suffer from other types of oppression. It does mean that white people in our culture do not experience systemic unfairness specifically because of their race. I'll explain white privilege, give concrete examples with evidence, explain why it matters to understand white privilege, talk about how race-based privilege intersects with other kinds of privilege, and then talk about some ways that people can be aware of their privilege and use it to create and support change and welcome everyone into our congregations.

Community Organizing for Justice & Liberation - 11:30am

Presented by Shayda Brown In this workshop, we will discuss how shifting power and strengthening community organizing infrastructure will be required for a just and liberated future. Sheyda will help attendees understand meaningful community engagement practices to incorporate in their daily lives.

Theology, Identity, and Race - 11:30am

Participants will explore the connections between a church body's identity/theology and its social/racial context. Be prepared for guided discussion about Lutheran and congregational identity. Those who come with an understanding of White privilege and systemic racism will be best equipped for the discussion.

Presenters Bios

Sheyda Brown is an Iranian-American political organizer and strategist who works with communities to build collective power to influence people and systems. She is currently the Deputy Director at the Terence Crutcher Foundation. She works in tandem with communities of color to organize resources and people in Oklahoma to fight against white supremacist racial violence and envision a racially equitable future. She began her organizing career following Hurricane Harvey, specializing in disaster organizing within communities of color in Houston, TX. In her previous philanthropy and current organizing and activism work, she elevates marginalized voices to reclaim their power and influence. She is a 2021 New Leaders Council fellow, 2022 Aspen Healthy Communities Fellow, and holds a Master of Social Work.

Phil Morice Brubaker has been an antiracism trainer and consultant for over 20 years with Roots of Justice and its predecessor. His antiracism experience includes developing and facilitating multiracial workshops, organizing and facilitating white caucus/affinity groups, policy assessment and development, communications auditing, speaking engagements on white privilege, and logistics and technical support. Phil holds degrees from Messiah College (BA 1994) and Duke University Divinity School (MTS 2002), and is comfortable communicating with secular audiences as well as the range of Christian audiences from Evangelical to liberal Mainline. Phil lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with his spouse and their two teenage children. He enjoys gardening, home food preservation, hiking, and visiting wild places.

Dr. Helen H. Davis is an Associate Professor of English at Wilkes University and is a Council member at St. Paul's Lutheran Church in Mountain Top, PA. She helped establish the Wilkes University Council on Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity and served as founding Co-chair. Dr. Davis is also a member of the Executive Committee for the International Society for the Study of Narrative, and co-chairs the Society's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She founded and coordinates the LGBTQ+ Awareness and Safe Space Ally programs at Wilkes University, and also leads workshops at King's College, Misericordia University, and other institutions. She was awarded the University's "Diversity Leader Faculty Award" in 2011, the "Multiculturalism Award" in 2012, the inaugural "President's Award for Diversity" in 2016, the "Outstanding Advisor Award" in 2018, and was named the University's "Teacher of the Year" in 2019. She was a member of the "Trouble the Water" planning committee for the NEPA ELCA synod, is a member of the NEPA ELCA Synod's "We Love" planning committee, and she has presented workshops for the Synod, her mission district, and at individual churches.

Pastor Albert Starr, Jr served as Director for churchwide ELCA Ethnic Specific, Multicultural Ministries and Racial Justice Team from 2015 to 2021. He initially came to the team and the churchwide organization as Program Director for African Descent Ministries in March of 2009. Prior to accepting the call to the Chicago office, Rev. Starr served as pastor of Ascension Lutheran Church in the Crenshaw District of Los Angeles, California from Sept. of 1982

until March of 2009. Together with his wife, Judith, Pastor Starr studied at the Makumira Theological College near Arusha Tanzania, East Africa as a part of completing the Master of Divinity degree from Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio. Rev. Starr was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity in 2009. His call to ministry has always included a strong notion of serving God by serving God’s people. As a pastor /teacher he takes great delight and special joy in helping to lift up and engage the gifts and talents of people of African descent and others, celebrating their capacity for building a stronger church and a better world to the glory of God through Jesus Christ.

Rev. Lamont Anthony Wells is the Program Director for Campus Ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (LuMin). LuMin is a network of inclusive faith-based and service communities on and near campuses at over 240 colleges and universities across the country. He is also the current National President of the African Descent Lutheran Association (ELCA). He is a 2021 United Nations Fellow which denotes him as an international human rights activist. He earned a Professional Certification in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion from Cornell University. As a professionally trained coach, he effectively helps individuals, groups, and organizations to unlock their potential and maximize their own performance. Pastor Wells is a member of the National Honor Society of Theta Phi and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.  Along with his years of service, he has received numerous honors and awards signifying his spirit of excellence, including his induction into the prestigious Board of Distinguished Preachers at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. A dynamic speaker and prophetic preacher, Rev. Wells is frequently called to address organizations, churches, conferences, convocations, retreats, and workshops in various public, social, and ecumenical communities. His prophetic message of ecumenism and social justice motivates him as a leader, team builder, and community organizer.

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