On April 10-11, 2015, Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis will host its annual City Ministry Spring Conference. This year’s theme is “Welcome One Another: Racial Identity in Christ.” The Scripture theme for the conference will be Romans 15:5-7.

Greg Perry, associate professor of New Testament, and Dean of Students Mike Higgins are organizing the conference, and this year’s theme stems from events less than 17 miles away in Ferguson, Missouri. In the aftermath of the shooting of Michael Brown and the protests the teen’s death sparked, Higgins and Perry worked to foster conversations between white and black Christians.

“We are realizing in a lot of our panel discussions and events since Ferguson that [black and white Christians] don’t know each other very well. We have made a lot of assumptions about who we are, a lot of which aren’t true,” Perry said.

The conference centers on three goals: creating space for discipleship as renewed image bearers, re-narrating our lives into the narrative of the reconciling Gospel, and worshiping and witnessing together for the work of relationship building.

Conference speakers will address issues related to Paul’s vision for welcoming one another in Christ. Dr. Carl Ellis will discuss how people are created in God’s image, but because of the fall, that image is distorted. The distortion causes us to neglect personal relationships but also makes human systems susceptible to racism and injustice. In his lecture, “The Whole Gospel: John Perkins, African-American Missionary to the White Church,” Dr. Peter Slade will discuss Perkins’ vision for discipling believers in their whole lives and how the Gospel challenges believers to repent in every area of life.

The main themes for Saturday will center on worship, intercultural church planting, and mission, intentionally focusing on the contribution of African-American communities to the church as a whole. Slade will lecture on a theology of intercultural congregational singing, and Michelle Higgins, South City Church director of worship and outreach, will lead intercultural singing with the St. Louis City Mass Choir.

Vince Bantu, Ph.D. candidate at The Catholic University of America, will lecture on the challenges and importance of intercultural church planting. Ellis will also lecture on black Christians involved in global missions and how black Christians have advanced the Great Commission.

The conference will conclude with a panel discussion of young and experienced voices talking about faithfulness and flourishing in St. Louis and other cities.

After the conference’s conclusion Saturday, Higgins and Perry will teach a Saturday-afternoon class on the theologies of the Civil Rights Era.

Perry hopes the conference will create space for attendees to reflect on holistic models of discipleship and the value of worship traditions and liturgies that reflect the diversity in the body of Christ.

“We need to look at our friendships and relations,” Perry said. “Are we building relationships across the lines that our society draws? Because we are united together in Christ.”

The event’s cost is $10 for students and $20 for the public, and registration is required. Events will take place at Rayburn Chapel on the Covenant Seminary campus. To register, please click here.