When Wy Plummer invited one African-American seminarian to Chattanooga, Tennessee, to see a multiethnic PCA congregation, he had no idea the weekend would turn into an annual event attracting hundreds of men and women in Reformed denominations.
The event is now called Leadership and Development Resource (LDR), a weekend for African -Americans to see that they have a place in Reformed denominations. Since blacks are usually the minority in a PCA church, many feel as though they need to hide their ethnic culture in order to fit in at church, Plummer said.
But LDR helps African-Americans see that they do not need to lose their culture in order to belong in the PCA, and, in fact, the church is strengthened when members bring different cultures to church.
“My hope is that the next generation will see the PCA as home. And we can take this robust theology and mix it with our culture and have a revival,” Plummer said.
Where Faith and Culture Go Together
In 2011, Plummer was recruiting an African-American student attending Covenant Seminary, but the student was hesitant because he assumed that Presbyterian churches were far too formal and would not be hospitable to his culture. Plummer invited the student to visit New City Fellowship in Chattanooga and see a different side of the PCA. The student agreed and even brought along a few friends.
When Plummer told Randy Nabors about the visit, Nabors — then pastor of New City Fellowship — suggested that they invite minority students from all the major Reformed seminaries. Twelve students gathered to worship together and discuss the experience of being African-American in a predominantly white denomination.
One of the students, Jemar Tisby, suggested they repeat the event the following year. In 2012, 45 students attended the event hosted by Reformed Theological Seminary and Redeemer Church, a multicultural church plant in Jackson, Mississippi. Since 2015 the event has been in St. Louis co-hosted by Covenant Theological Seminary, and in 2016 more than 400 people attended.
Supporting Each Other
Now Plummer works with Tisby and Michelle Higgins to organize the annual gatherings. As LDR attracts more people, Higgins wants to equip teams to host regional LDR gatherings.
Plummer believes that LDR is playing a key role in creating diversity in the PCA. It gives Reformed African-American leaders the chance to address a national audience. For whites who attend, it is a place to learn about how African-Americans preach, pray, and worship.
While LDR is designed by and for African-Americans, it welcomes financial and prayer ministry partners. The LDR leadership tries to keep the weekend’s costs low to encourage attendance, and they always need churches to help underwrite the conference expenses.
“LDR is proof you don’t have to give up culture to embrace biblical theology. It shows that the Gospel speaks to the beauty of the heritage of each land,” Higgins said.
Registration for the 2017 conference began April 1. For more information or to financially support LDR, email LDRWeekend@gmail.com.