By Eva Stimson
More than 70 Christian communicators gathered in St. Louis, Mo., April 20, for the opening of the 2016 annual convention of the Associated Church Press. The organization marked its 100th anniversary by returning to the city where it was launched a century ago by a group of religious journalists.
“This is a homecoming of sorts for you,” said opening worship speaker Rev. Monica Jefferson, a St. Louis native who is pastor of St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Florissant, Mo. “I thank God for your coming home. Welcome home!”
Jefferson invited ACP members to travel with her on her “life journey,” from growing up in a family of 10 children to confirmation in the church to becoming one of the first African American female leaders in her denomination. Taking as her text 2 Corinthians 5:20, she challenged listeners to be “ambassadors of Christ” and to spread a message of reconciliation
“Ambassadors go to places where they must learn, and maybe be the only person there who is like them,” she said. “And sometimes it’s not the safest assignment.”
Jefferson’s church is near Ferguson, where 18-year-old Michael Brown, an African American, was shot and killed by a white police officer in August 2014. She told about standing on the street and praying with other clergy in the hours following the shooting, She said people began to come up to them, some in tears.
“Our mission field is to create community in Jesus Christ,” she said. “We are called to be wherever people are.”
This may mean moving out of our comfort zone—for example, for some it may mean learning to use texting and social media to reach out to people and bring them together.
“What an exciting time this is for communicators,” she concluded. “We have all kinds of ways to reach people for Christ.”