Diversity within the Christian community has been a hot topic for years, and the Christian Community Development Association is putting diverse worship into action. This hot topic was witnessed by fifteen students and four staff members at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) Conference in Kansas City on Nov. 10-13, 2021.
The CCD is a Christian-based association that focuses on restoring impoverished communities with a wholistic approach” The association recognizes the church’s neglect and focuses on restoring, listening and creating lasting leadership for their communities. According to the organization’s website, “A new generation of Christians are faced with a question about how they will respond to the troubles of the poor and under-resourced communities today.”
Northwestern College has previously participated in CCDA conferences.
“We try to take a group of students to the conference when we can, especially when it’s somewhere that is drivable,” said Kevin McMahan, Associate Director of Intercultural Development. “It’s great to get students together who are interested in such ministry and offers a unique worship and learning environment that can be transformational.”
The Christian-based conference consisted of Bible studies, plenary sessions, networking, workshops and various sightseeing activities. Sophomore Alyssa Feeley, a self-proclaimed extrovert, exclaimed her amazing take-aways from the plenary sessions, large group worship.
“Everyone at the conference gathered, which was cool because it was diverse,” Feeley said. “It reminded me of what the kingdom of God should look like: very diverse and giving all their glory to God.”
Junior Shaylee Yates got the most out of the small breakout sessions, in which she learned about various non-profits.
“I learned a lot about different kinds of non-profits such as mission statements and the different ways that an individual could help in their own community,” Yates said. “It was fascinating to see the different things that people came up with and how they saw needs in their own community and then filled them.”
The students also enjoyed the lessons they have learned.
“The most important thing that I took away from the conference was to take the time to listen to those who have different stories than you do,” Yates said. “I think that is a very important lesson to learn because as Christians, we are called to help the poor and suffering. The best way to do that is by listening to the needs of the community and using our power to help those who need it most.”
Because of the CCDA’s focus on diversity, a diverse platform of speakers, such as Lenore Three Stars, a Christ-following Lakota woman, and John Perkins, a CCDA founder – were able to inspire the attendees.
Feeley appreciated the words of Terence Lester, whose message focused on God having something special inside of us.
“He spoke with a lot of passion,” Feeley said. “I could tell that what he was saying was really dear to his heart.”
McMahan highly adored the speakers of the plenary sessions, but also enjoyed the worship.
“One of the key features of CCDA plenaries are not just the speakers, but the worship which is so multicultural and spirit filled,” he said.
Feeley and Yates were amazed at the unique opportunity they got to have in Kansas City. “I would recommend it to anyone on campus who desires to learn more about how to develop their community development skills, or simply anyone who wants to learn more about poverty and how to relieve it,” Yates said.
The NW student body will get the opportunity to hear from various CCDA conference speakers this semester, starting with Sandra van Opstal, Dominique Gillard and Angelica Garnett in the following months.