Friday, June 19, 2009

We DO talk about religion in public

They used to say that you should never talk about politics, religion or sex in polite company; no longer. There's an amazing series of community conversations going on monthly at the Levine Museum of the New South that serves as a complement to the museum's exhibit “Changing Places: From Black and White to Technicolor.”

Last week's topic was “Keeping the Faith: Making Room in the Pews," a panel discussion. As education sponsor for the exhibit, UNC Charlotte is hosting a community conversation every third Wednesday of the month through February 2010. The conversations are designed to take a deeper look at issues raised by the exhibit.

Panelists for “Keeping the Faith” were Sean McCloud, associate professor at UNC Charlotte; Jorge Prado, pastor of Spanish and Caring Ministries, Calvary Church; and Bruce Marcey, lead pastor of Warehouse 242. Maria Hanlin, executive director of Mecklenburg Ministries, moderated the talk.

Some of what we learned:

* Charlotte has a much more diverse faith community that many realize. Once homogeneous churches such as Calvary are now heavily integrated yet also tailor services to peopel from other cultures and with other first languages
* Non-traditional churches such as Warehouse 242 and Watershed are serving congregations that draw heavily from young people; these churches are typically less focused on building up the "kingdom on earth" -- large capital projects and such -- and more focused on outreach.

McCloud, who teaches courses in American religions and religion and culture, is the author of “Making the American Religious Fringe: Exotics, Subversives and Journalists, 1955-93” and “Divine Hierarchies: Class in American Religion and Religious Studies.”

Prado is responsible for preaching, teaching and guiding the Spanish-speaking members of Calvary Church and develops cross-cultural ministries for international members.

Marcey is leader of a vibrant church community that meets in a warehouse on Wilkinson Boulevard. Not afraid to think outside the box, this community of people engages the arts, music and small groups in a bold and nontraditional way in order to better explore faith.

Community Conversations are free and open to the public.

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