Come to Fellowship Southwest’s first-ever conference on compassion and social justice and you won’t be asked to wear a lanyard.
That’s perhaps a selling point compared to most conferences plagued by the ever-present plastic nametag holder and fabric lanyard around the neck.
This innovation is just one sign of how Fellowship Southwest hopes to create a more personal experience for a couple of hundred people who attend their Sept. 8-9 gathering in Dallas.
Even the venue is different. Rather than a hotel or conference center or traditional large church, this event will be held at Life in Deep Ellum, a faith community and cultural center with an “unchurchy” vibe, including a welcoming coffee shop and an art gallery at the center of the building. The space is located in a historic neighborhood east of downtown Dallas called Deep Ellum.
And the speakers are progressive Christian influencers most Baptists haven’t heard in person before: Eugene Cho, Alexia Salvatierra, Jemar Tisby, Kaitlin Curtice.
Participants won’t just hear these speakers address the group, they’ll also have opportunities to visit with them and even have dinner with them and workshop leaders.
Publicity for the event explains: “As a network of non-traditional Christians, we acknowledge that compassion and justice work are complementary and equally essential in serving vulnerable communities. Fellowship Southwest wants to connect people of faith, passionate about compassion and justice, to challenge, inspire and empower them to be and do better together for our communities and those we serve.”
Fellowship Southwest leaders say this inaugural event is aimed at “intergenerational, faith and ministry leaders, practitioners, advocates, followers of Christ, unchurched friends, and open-minded individuals who care about social justice issues and how to do compassion through missions and justice through advocacy.”
Topics to be addressed include hunger, indigenous people and lands, immigration, and racial justice.
Basic registration is $99, and college, graduate and seminary students get 50% off.
Anyra Cano, programs and outreach director for Fellowship Southwest, has been a key organizer of the event. She anticipates the benefits to participants will be like what happened recently when the group of pastors serving with Fellowship Southwest along the Texas-Mexico border got together for a retreat.
“It was a heavenly reunion,” she said. “When we finally came together, the pastors and their spouses were filled with great joy. They instantly began sharing stories, experiences, resources, ideas and laughter. It was like old friends who hadn’t seen each other in forever coming together, and no time had passed. However, these were not old friends. They only knew each other through Zoom, WhatsApp, and stories they read about each other. Never had they all been together physically, yet the connection was immediate. They understood each other like no other could.”
Her point: “Connection is why you need this conference. It is how we imagine our time together. Many of us are out there doing works of compassion through missions and works of justice through advocacy. … Your mind, soul and body need to connect with and be affirmed by others doing similar work. You need to be in the same space as others who care, where you don’t have to explain yourself.”
More information and registration are available here.