A conference addressing systemic racism in the church.
October 7–10, 2019
In the beginning, God breathed on humankind to animate our existence.
Our breath is our life-force, but the air we breathe can restore our life or kill us. We are living in a world where the sins of racism infect the very air we breathe. What happens when we pay attention to how much breath we give to scarcity, competition, and fear? What happens when we choose to focus our breath on giving oxygen to liberate our imaginations for a world where the air is full of abundance, hope, and equity?
In October of 2019, Montreat Conference Center will host CoInspire, the second in a series of conferences addressing systemic racism in the church. Our first conference, DisGrace, lived in lament for the ways in which the sins of racism thwart individual people and institutions, infecting congregations and denominations with death-dealing dehumanization. CoInspire will examine ways that we, as members of Christ’s body, might co-inspire one another to liberate imagination for new ways of being, and examine ways we can conspire to eviscerate the racism within our churches.
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Rev. Traci Blackmon – Preacher
Rev. Traci Blackmon is the executive minister of justice & local church ministries for The United Church of Christ and senior pastor of Christ The King United Church of Christ in Florissant, MO.
Initially ordained in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Rev. Blackmon served in various ministry capacities for nine years prior to becoming ordained in the United Church of Christ, and was installed as the first woman and 18th pastor in the 162 year history of Christ The King United Church of Christ.
A featured voice with many regional, national, and international media outlets and a frequent contributor to print publications, Rev. Blackmon's communal leadership and work in the aftermath of the killing of Michael Brown, Jr. in Ferguson, MO, has gained her both national and international recognition and audiences from the White House to the Carter Center to the Vatican. She was appointed to the Ferguson Commission by Governor Jay Nixon and to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships for the White House by President Barack H. Obama. Rev. Blackmon toured the nation proclaiming the need for a moral revival with the Rev. Dr. William Barber of Moral Mondays and Repairer of the Breech; the Rev. Dr. James Forbes of The Drum Major Institute and pastor emeritus of The Riverside Church in New York; and Sister Simone Campbell of Nuns on the Bus.
Rev. Blackmon is a co-author of the newly released White Privilege curriculum through the United Church of Christ and has received awards and recognitions, including The White House President’s Volunteer Service Award; 2015 Ebony Magazine Power 100; NAACP Rosa Parks Award; The United Church of Christ Antoinette Brown Leadership Award, among numerous others.
Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis – Keynoter
The Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis is an ordained minister with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the director of the Kairos Center for Rights, Religions, and Social Justice at Union Theological Seminary, and the co-chair of the Poor People's Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. She has spent the past two decades organizing amongst the poor and dispossessed in the United States and recently published Always with Us?: What Jesus Really Said about the Poor and Revive Us Again: Vision and Action in Moral Organizing.
In 2018, alongside the Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, Theoharis helped to launch the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival. Over the coming years, the campaign will organize poor people across race, religion, geography, political party, and other so-called lines of division to fuel a moral revolution of values in the country. Theoharis has been recognized for her work by many national bodies, including the Presbyterian Church, Brooklyn for Peace, the New York Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the 2018 Politico Magazine Top 50 list of “thinkers, doers and visionaries who are driving American politics and policy.”
Rev. Lis Valle-Ruiz – Key Leader
Rev. Lis Valle-Ruiz is an assistant professor of homiletics at McCormick Theological Seminary. She is a candidate for the PhD in homiletics and liturgics at Vanderbilt University, where she has also studied gender and sexuality. Her dissertation, “The Body as Preacher: Prophetic Performance as Disruptive Preaching,” explores ways in which prophetic preaching as a performance event challenges oppressive systems. Rev. Valle has researched the theology of the sermons of Latina clergy and is also the author of “Toward Postcolonial Liturgical Preaching: Drawing on the Pre-Columbian Caribbean Religion of the Taínos.” Homiletic Online Journal, 2015.
Dr. Raj Nadella – Key Leader
Dr. Nadella is the Samuel A. Cartledge Associate professor of New Testament, effective July 1, 2019, currently an associate professor of New Testament. His research and teaching interests include Bakhtin and Biblical studies and postcolonial readings of the New Testament, especially the parables of Jesus. Additionally, his research focuses on New Testament perspectives on the issues of economic justice and their ethical and theological implications for the Church and society today.
Dr. Jennifer Harvey – Key Leader
Dr. Harvey is professor of religion at Drake University where her courses focus on encounters of religion and ethics with race, gender, activism, politics, spirituality, justice, and any other aspect of social life in which religiosity decides to "show up." Dr. Harvey's most recent book Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation has led to her engagement as a speaker and workshop leader with faith communities and academic audiences around the nation. She is also the author of Whiteness and Morality: Pursuing Racial Justice through Reparations and Sovereignty and a co-editor of Disrupting White Supremacy: White People on What We Need To Do. Her recent publications include work on contemporary reparations movements in Protestant traditions, queer articulations of Christian traditions, and Native-Colonial dialogues on issues of environmental justice.
Rev. Dr. Christine J. Hong – Key Leader
Rev. Dr. Christine J. Hong is assistant professor of educational ministry at Columbia Theological Seminary. Her research interest includes Asian American studies, child and adolescent behavior and development, and immigrant communities, church history, post-colonial studies, and systematic theology.
Rev. Dr. Rodney Sadler – Key Leader
Rev. Dr. Sadler is associate professor of Bible at Union Theological Seminary. His teaching experience includes courses in biblical languages, Old and New Testament interpretation, wisdom literature in the Bible, the history and religion of ancient Israel, and African American biblical interpretation. His first authored book, Can A Cushite Change His Skin? An Examination of Race, Ethnicity, and Othering in the Hebrew Bible, was published in 2005. He frequently lectures within the church and community on race in the Bible, African American biblical interpretation, the image of Jesus, biblical archaeology, and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Dr. Lisa Dellinger – Key Leader
Dr. Lisa Dellinger (Chickasaw and Mexican American) received her MDiv with high honors from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK. She served as a pastor with the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of the United Methodist Church from 2015-2017. She successfully defended her dissertation, “Reclaiming Indigenous and Christian Narrative Epistemologies: Refusing US Settler Colonialism’s Theological Anthropology of Sin,” at Garrett-Evangelical Seminary in Evanston, IL, and will graduate in May of 2020. Dr. Dellinger is a contributor to the book, Coming Full Circle: Constructing Native Christian Theology writing the chapter, “Sin - Ambiguity and Complexity and the Sin of Not Conforming.”
Dr. Tony McNeill – Music Leader
Dr. Tony McNeill currently serves as interim choral director at Texas Southern University (TSU). Prior to coming to TSU in 2017, Dr. McNeill served almost five years as the director of worship and the arts at Atlanta’s Historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, “America’s Freedom Church.”
Eric Wall – Music Leader
Eric Wall is assistant professor of sacred music and dean of the chapel at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary and has served as the conference center musician at Montreat Conference Center since 2011.
Rev. Marissa Galván-Valle – Music Leader
Marissa is the director of language resources at Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and is also the pastor at Beechmont Presbyterian Church, an intercultural congregation in Louisville, KY.
Planning Team –
Jessica Vasquez Torres, Carol Steele, Denise Anderson, Shawna Bowman, Alex McNeill, Ashley-Ann Masters, Ruth-Aimee Belonni-Rosario Govens, Christine Hong, Mindy McGarrah Sharp, Amantha Barbee, Wende Ballew, T Gonzales, Lindsey Anderson, and Tanner Pickett
Check back for more leadership announcements!
Rates & Registration
Special Group Incentive for the CoInspire Conference!
When you bring your spouse or a friend – or a whole group of friends – with you to this conference, take advantage of our special group incentive rate. The first registration from a church group or presbytery team will be at the full comprehensive or commuter rate. Any additional registrations (all the friends and colleagues who come with you!) from the same church group or presbytery team will be reduced by $25 per registration. Two or more people constitute a group, and there is no limit to the number of people in your group who may take advantage of this offer. (When registering online, you may use the “Comments” section to notify the registrar of any additional people in your group. Some discounts may be applied separately by the registrar.)
Comprehensive rates below include conference fee, room in Assembly Inn or the Winsborough (Monday through Wednesday night), meals in the Galax Dining Room (Monday supper through Thursday breakfast), plus a $3 community services fee per adult for public services provided by the Town and the fire district. Rooms are assigned on a first come, first served basis. Rooms in Assembly Inn have either private baths or connecting baths. Rooms in the Winsborough have mostly connecting baths. Room check-in AFTER 3:00 pm on Monday. Room check-out BEFORE 11:00 am on Thursday.
After August 26, 2019, these rates will increase by $75.
- $472.50 single occupancy
- $650.00 double occupancy (includes “group” discount)
- $322.50 single occupancy
- $500.00 double occupancy (includes “group” discount)
Meals for Children:
- $84.50 for children 12-15
- $42.25 for children ages 5-11
- no charge for children under 5
Commuter rates below include the conference fee plus a $3 community services fee per person for public services provided by the Town and the fire district. Rate does not include housing or meals.
Conference Only Rate:
- On/before August 26: $118 per person ($211 with spouse)
- After August 26: $193 per person ($286 with spouse)
- Daily Rate – $75 per person/per day (when registering online, enter “daily rate” and the date you wish to attend in the “Comments” section)
Meals for Commuters:
Please check out the Black Mountain Chamber of Commerce as well as our Business Patrons for a list of restaurants in Black Mountain.
Continuing education units (CEU's) are available for this conference.
We have limited scholarships available for program fee only.
Cancellations must be received by August 26 in order to receive a full refund less a $25 service charge. Cancellations received after August 26 but on or before September 30 will receive a 50% refund of the conference fee and payments made toward room and meal charges (if applicable) less $40. No refunds will be issued after September 30. All requests must be in writing and received via email, fax, or U.S. mail.
Contact the Registrar
If you have any questions about the registration process, please email the registrar at SusanA@montreat.org or call 828.419.9829.
Other Housing Options
You may also choose to stay in a privately-owned facility or cottage. Montreat Conference Center is not responsible for the rental of these properties or the condition of the premises. Arrangements must be made by the renter, directly with the property owner/manager or realtor. You may request a private cottage list by emailing the conference registrar at email@example.com.
Meals for Commuters
Child Care Information
Child care is available for this conference for an additional charge. Pre-registration will be required. Enrollment is limited. The cost is $150 for the first child, and $75 for each additional child. If you have questions about registering for child care, email the registrar at SusanA@montreat.org. If you have general questions about the child care program, please email the child care coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Monday, October 7
3:00-4:00 pm - Registration and Check-In
4:00-4:30 pm - Welcome and Orientation to the Values of CoInspire
4:45-6:00 pm - Preparing for Engagement
6:00-7:00 pm - Dinner
7:30 pm - Opening Worship
8:45-9:45 pm - Union Seminary Reception
9:45-11:00 pm - Late Night Activities
Tuesday, October 8
6:45 am - Getting Grounded (options for beginning your day)
7:30-8:30 am - Breakfast
8:20-9:10 am - Exhibit Space Open
9:10-10:50 am - Plenary I: Morning Prayers & Cannon's Canon Panel Discussion I
10:50-11:15 am - Break
11:15 am-12:30 pm - Digging Deeper Conversation Spaces
12:30-1:30 pm - Lunch
2:00-2:30 pm - Afternoon Prayers
2:30-3:45 pm - Plenary II: Eviscerating Racism Keynote with Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis
4:00-5:30 pm - Action Sessions
6:00-7:00 pm - Dinner
7:30 pm - Worship
9:00-10:00 pm - Columbia Theological Seminary Reception
Wednesday, October 9
6:45 am - Getting Grounded (options for beginning your day)
7:30-8:30 am - Breakfast
8:30 am - Morning Prayers
9:00 am - Plenary III: Viewing of the documentary Flint: The Poisoning of an American City
10:30 am - Q&A with David Barnhart and Greg Timmons
10:50-11:15 am - Transition Break
11:00 am - Cannon's Canon Panel Discussion II: Liberating Imagination
12:30-1:30 pm - Lunch
2:00-2:30 pm - Afternoon Prayers
2:30-4:00 pm - Action Sessions
4:00-4:30 pm - Break
4:30-5:45 pm - Organizing/Networking Regionally to Act
6:00-7:15 pm - Dinner
7:30-9:00 pm - Closing Worship
9:00-10:30 pm - Joyful Celebration, Liberating Imagination
Thursday, October 10
7:30-8:30 am - Conference Ends with Breakfast
Check-in/Check-out for Housing
- Housing Check-in: Monday, October 7, 2019 AFTER 3:00 pm
- Housing Check-out: Thursday, October 10, 2019 BEFORE 11:00 am
Evening Reception Sponsors:
Monday Night: Union Presbyterian Seminary
Tuesday Night: Columbia Theological Seminary
Become a Sponsor
In the Kingdom of God, our liberation is bound together with all others. We cannot live as one body in Christ as long as the sin of racism is commonplace in our communities, our institutions, and our lives. It’s not enough for us to live in isolation in our churches, waiting for the storm to pass.
To “conspire” is to “breathe with” another; as the church conspires to eviscerate racism, we must think about what it means to truly breathe with one another, even as we acknowledge that people of different races experience racism differently and have different roles to play in this work.
This is the second in a series of conferences addressing systemic racism in the church. Our first conference, DisGrace, drew nearly 400 participants seeking to have this conversation.
If you are part of an organization or group that participates in this work either directly or by resourcing others, we invite you to participate in our resource area. We will have times each day for participants to explore different resources in continuing this work.
Come to Co-Inspire with us.
- Place: Montreat Conference Center, Anderson Auditorium Lobby
- Dates: Load-in will be from 10a to 3p on 10.7. Load-out will begin after 7p on 10.9 (designated exhibit times to be determined)
- Cost: $350/ table- covers one commuter registration, booth fee, and sponsorship notification on our website and event app. * Scholarships available upon request
Interested in participating? Email Tanner Pickett