Tuesday, June 17, 2014

SITD 2014 Dallas - Meet Ft Lauderdale!

It's time to meet a few more people!  I don't like sitting in the same spot during conferences, so I invaded a different table today where I met two new friends up from Florida.  I couldn't help but notice that Phil was already complaining about the Dallas heat -- It's barely touched 90, so it's not even hot yet!  But being a Los Angeles basin semi-native for 20 years before locating to Kansas... yeah, I get it.

Phil Letizia's a great guy -- he's got a daughter with Down Syndrome.  Some might say those two things are not necessarily co-relates, but us pastor-dads of daughters with DS, well, we are a rare breed.  My daughter turns 12 this week, while his is still in infancy.  I had a rare-moment of self-recognition -- Now I know what I must have looked like, showing up at a National Organization of Disability (NOD) That All May Worship Conference 10 years ago, surprised that my seminary training had not prepared me for this chapter of fatherhood, much less ministry.  As Rev. Dr. Helen Betenbaugh said yesterday, these are moments of liminality.

Phil & Ed at SITD 2014 Dallas
Another reason to like Phil is his call to church planting with the EPC (Evangelical Presbyterian - think Tim Keller).  As he realizes the team around him, undoubtedly the community of believers he leads will have compassion (not pity) as a core value; I guarantee they will seek to enter in and create authentic relationships with those who have disabilities as well as others typically disenfranchised by the church.  I look forward to hearing his reports of the trans-formative and liberating power of the gospel narrative in his congregation.

Ed Copeland serves with Hope South Florida -- the leading provider of entry point services for the homeless in Broward County.  With a coalition of 53 churches, their aim is to provide housing and community, providing hope and restoration to broken families. Studies have repeatedly shown that a large percentage of the homeless population have either visible or hidden disabilities.  Families caught in this oppressive cycle tend to have children at risk for increased learning disabilities due to poor nutrition and living conditions.  While the categories of the poor and the disabled are not a singularity, the overlap cannot be ignored. You can learn more about Hope South Florida's model here. Thanks to both of you for your service to His church!

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen!  (Eph. 3.20-21 ESV)

#SITD #TheologyDisability