14th Annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium to Welcome Dr. Soong-Chan Rah as Keynote Speaker


MACON – Mercer University's 14th annual Building the Beloved Community Symposium will welcome as keynote speaker the Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. The symposium will focus on the theme “The Voice of Faith in the Cry for Racial Justice.”

 “We will be challenged by Dr. Rah's visionary thinking about how faith communities can have a fresh voice in the struggle for racial justice and harmony,” said Dr. John Marson Dunaway, professor emeritus of French and interdisciplinary studies and founder of the symposium.

The symposium, to be held Feb. 6-7 on the Macon campus, begins with a banquet on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Presidents Dining Room inside the University Center, featuring Dr. Rah's first keynote address, titled “The Need for Lament in Changing Times.” The banquet will also include music by the Central High School chorus, directed by Isaac Gibson.

Antonie Walker, pastor of Grace Corner Church in Macon, will be featured speaker for breakfast on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. in the fellowship hall of Centenary United Methodist Church.

Dr. Rah will deliver his second keynote address, titled “Hearing All the Voices through Lament,” on Wednesday at 10 a.m. in Penfield Hall, with breakout sessions and a light lunch to follow.

Admission to all sessions is free and open to the public. Reservations are required for meals and must be made by contacting Trish Dunaway at (478) 475-9506 or trishdunaway3@gmail.com by Feb. 2.

Prior to joining the faculty of North Park Theological Seminary, Dr. Rah served as founding senior pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic, urban ministry-focused church committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context.

Additionally, he was part of a church planting team in the Washington D.C. area, worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston, and mobilized CCFC to plant two additional churches.

He currently serves on the board of Catalyst Leadership Center and Sojourners/Call to Renewal. He has been an active member of the Boston Ten-Point Coalition, an urban ministry working with at-risk youth, and is a founding member of the Boston Fellowship of Asian-American Ministers.

He has served as plenary speaker at the 2003 Urbana Student Missions Conference, the 2005 Summer Institute for Asian American Ministry and Theology, the 2006 Congress on Urban Ministry, the 2007 ECC Midwinter Conference, the 2007 Urban Youth Workers Institute Conference and the 2008 Christian Community Development Association National Conference.

Dr. Rah earned his B.A. in political science and history/sociology from Columbia University, M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Th.M. from Harvard University and D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.

He is a contributor author to Growing Healthy Asian-American Churches and has authored the book The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity, as well as numerous journal articles.

He, his wife, Sue, who teaches special education, and their two children, Annah and Elijah, live in Chicago.

Dr. Dunaway founded the Building the Beloved Community Symposium in 2005 as a way to help the church demonstrate unity through collaboration across denominational and racial boundaries based on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s concept of the “beloved community.”