LOS ANGELES – Organizers of a three-day conference plan to host leading pastors, ministry and community leaders, including Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, New York, as they discuss what it means to embrace Los Angeles and help meet its needs.
Keller, seen in a video on the "Together LA" website, says, "We're bringing Christian leaders together from all over Los Angeles to ask and answer one question: What does it mean to love your city?"
The event, scheduled for February 26-28, will include ministry practitioners presenting interactive sessions that "engage the realities of loving our city," organizers announced on Friday. Workshops and panel discussions will cover topics such as mercy ministry, systemic injustice, ethnic and class conflict, faith and work, social and culture changes and challenges, church health and church collaborations.
"We are doing this for at least four reasons," Keller said. "The first reason is that cities are important. The world population is moving into cities faster than the church is moving into cities and if you want to have an influence on how human life is lived in the world, if you want to reach the unreached peoples of the world you need to go to cities.
"Secondly, L.A. is important. L.A. is not only one of the two or three cultural capitals of the world, the two or three cities that most effect what people actually see on their screens and take into their minds and hearts culturally, but of course, it is one of the key cities on the Pacific Rim. It's one of the most important cities in the world."
Keller said the third reason is because it's important to hear from the rising leadership of Los Angeles churches and Christianity in general.
"I've been asked from the outside to come in, but every other leader is going to be a rising leader from Los Angeles – both experienced leaders, some of whom have been there for many, many years, [and] new people that have come in and brought in new ministries recently," he said. "You are going to learn from each other. There needs to be a place where we can be much wiser together than we would have been otherwise."
He adds, "Lastly, to reach a city takes a great variety of different kinds of ministries. You do need church planting, of course, you also need church renewal. You need ministries of mercy and of justice, reaching out to the poor and needy populations. You need to find ways of integrating faith and work. There's a variety of things that have to happen and no one person is an expert on all of them."
Keller concludes, "Another reason we have to come together, not just pastors but ministry leaders coming together in Los Angeles, resourcing each other [and] becoming a learning community. It's a very exciting prospect."
Organizer Tommy Lee told The Christian Post that speakers for Together LA include Bishop Charles Blake, Dr. Barry Corey, Mark Labberton, Mayor Aja Brown, Efrem Smith, Caitlin Crosby, Tim Chaddick, Albert Tate, Larry Acosta, La Verne Tolbert, Michael Mata, Tom Hughes, Father Greg Boyle, and many more.
Lee said that although planning for the conference began 13 months ago, it has only been recently that more event promotion has taken place because the core group of leaders needed to hear from pastors and leaders coming from a variety of ethnic groups and learn how to connect with them.
For more information, go to www.togetherla.net or email firstname.lastname@example.org.