Author John Pattison has written a wonderful article entitled Reconciled Diversity which had very kind things to say about the Inhabit Conference and our parish vision as it relates to this subject. In the face of so many conferences where this issue does not even seem to be on the radar, it is refreshing to participate in a gathering where there is so much space for different voices. Yet, we are a long ways to go in the task of breaking long-held barriers to diversity and dialogue between communities in the US. We are inspired by leaders like Harvey Drake, Alexia Salvatierra, and Christena Cleveland or networks such as Transform and CCDA, who have built diverse tables that foster reconciliation. As they have shown us, true diversity is the result of Spirit-led intentionality, and it is an ongoing task.
The forces behind homogeneity in our church communities, such as discrimination, privilege, and inequality, demand holistic efforts based on tireless presence and practice. There is no short-cut or a cookie cutter solution to be offered and consumed. The spirit of the Inhabit Conference is to offer a platform where faithful neighborhood practitioners from every corner of the world can contribute ideas and experiences that can counteract the forces of our unjust world. As John Pattison, I am also looking forward to hearing the on-the-ground wisdom that comes from participants at the Inhabit Conference. We hope many of you will join us, and that together we can contribute to a better dialogue between diverse communities.
Maria Jose Soerens (Coté) migrated from Chile and is a mental health counselor and advocate for undocumented immigrants in Seattle, Washington. Coté is currently working on her doctorate at the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies researching suffering and spirituality from the perspective of immigrant women affected by violence. She lives in the Wallingford neighborhood of Seattle.