Apparently what I thought was obvious is not so obvious. Several of my brothers in reading my last post have suggested that I was referring to the fact that the Directory of Reformed Conferences did not include the Miami Pastors Conference or the New Life Bible Conference. Admittedly, these are glaring omissions, but I must give Challies the benefit of the doubt that he would not know about these conferences unless someone informed him. So while these are obvious omissions to us, they are probably less obvious to the vast majority of Challies' readers. Nevertheless, I am still of the mind that there is yet something missing, or better yet, someone(s) missing from these listings that should be obvious to all of Challies' readers. The missing element is the presence of Reformed African-American preachers at these conferences.
I am much appreciative of the conversations that Reformed evangelicals, churches, and denominations are having concerning the rightness and God-glorifying aspects of racial harmony and diversity. I do believe that there is much sincerity and genuineness in the voices and motives of the majority of these Reformed leaders. However, I must say that there can be no harmonization without representation. Until these Reformed organizations and leaders are serious about diversity, not just in their conference attendees but also in their conference speakers, their pronouncements of racial harmony and diversity are little more than an attempt to integrate their pews but leave their pulpits unchanged. Integrating the pew feels good because is soothes the conscience. Integrating the pulpit is the greater challenge because it challenges the heart. Teaching African-Americans is not a problem. Learning from and sitting at the feet of African-Americans, well, that has been a different story.
Looking at the list of conferences as they are constituted currently, the only known African-American speaker is Voddie Baucham, listed on the platform for The Pastor's Conference sponsored by Truth for Life. Admittedly, these list are not complete and there may be more African-Americans listed before the final rostrum of speakers is given. In fact, if recent history is any indication, I am quite confident that at least John Piper and the folks at Desiring God will have at least one African-American among their conferences' plenary speakers. I do commend Piper and Desiring God for being intentional in this regard. Nevertheless, the initial absence of Reformed African-American speakers has caused me once again to iterate the need for Reformed African-Americans to be proactive in devising conferences that speak with our voices, to our concerns (see post La Cosa Nostra part 1, part 2).
So, when my brothers say that the list is missing conferences sponsored by African-Americans, they are actually on the right track. The omission should underline for us the need to continue to develop our own conference tracks while actively participating in the tracks of our Reformed brothers and sisters of a lighter hue, and inviting them to do the same. One day questions of diversity and harmony will belong to former things. One day our conferences and platforms will be so diversified that the question will be if any could recall a time when they were not that way. One day true harmonization will be realized because we see true representation. Until then let us continue to raise the issue while also not neglecting those who have never attended a conference currently on Challies' list, namely the vast majority of African-Americans.