Recorded on May 3 – Dr. Matthew Whitaker (Guest Speaker)
Dr. Whitaker is Foundation Professor of History and the founding director of the Center for the Study of Race and Democracy, winner of the 2014 Arizona Diversity Leadership Alliance Inclusive Workplace Award. He earned a BA in sociology and a BA in history at Arizona State University, where he also completed an MA in United States history. Whitaker earned a PhD in history, with honors, at Michigan State University. He specializes in U.S. history, African American history and life, civil rights, race relations, social movements and social movements. Whitaker is the editor of three books, including Hurricane Katrina: America’s Unnatural Disaster, and he is the author of Race Work: The Rise of Civil Rights in the Urban West. His new book is Peace Be Still: Modern Black America from World War II to Barack Obama winner of Tufts University’s Center for the study of Race and Democracy’s Bayard Rustin Book Award. He has also authored a number of award- winning journal articles, numerous encyclopedia essays, and over 20 opinion pieces. Whitaker has won over 30 awards for his research, teaching, and service, and has given motivational speeches and lectured in nations throughout the world, including Australia, Canada, China, Czech Republic, England, Ghana, Ireland and Liberia. His commentaries have been featured on CNN, NPR, PBS, WVON, KEMET, and other media outlets.
Recorded on April 26, 2015 @ 10:00am
Guest Speaker Stephanie Parra – Stephanie is the Board Member for Phoenix Union High School District’s Governing Board in Ward 3. Stephanie is an educator committed to improving public schools in Arizona. A first generation American citizen, Stephanie was born and raised in Yuma, AZ and is a product of Arizona public schools. She is passionate about ensuring every student in Arizona receives an excellent education and is adequately prepared to succeed in college, career and life. As one of the first in her family to attend college, Stephanie understands the power of a great education. Stephanie holds a Bachelor of Science in Justice Studies, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and a Master of Education in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Arizona State University. Stephanie is currently the Executive Director for the T.W. Lewis Foundation overseeing the Foundation’s annual giving budget with a focus on education, children and families.
This is a guest post from City Square Church member, Tiffany Brown
The morning of April 12 was a morning of celebration. The City Square logo received a colorful Phoenix Pride Parade-worthy makeover and our t-shirts served as symbols of alliance and solidarity. Lisa and Everett Van Aller showed up with a wagon of supplies, City Square-stickered candy to hand out, and baby Elliott in tow – clearly the cutest member of our group. We broke bread and took communion in a Phoenix park-and-ride lot before joining the masses of feathers, leather, glitter, and happiness ready to walk – no, strut down 3rd Street.
Ben and Teneia Eichelberger saved the day, morphing a mic stand into a banner holder. Sam Richard served as our unofficial hype man, handing out candy, running the lines giving high fives, and “getting low” to the club music that poured out of the double-decker bus in front of us. We all made jokes about the possibility of getting lung cancer from the smog billowing out of said bus, but made those jokes while smiling and still committed to walk, our health be damned! I passed out blue feather boas and participated in a dance party or five on the sidelines of the Phoenix Pride Parade as we walked for equality and understanding.
But I dreaded the last quarter of a mile of the parade, that wide, slow turn onto Indian School, because that’s where anti-gay protesters were set up, shouting hurtful rhetoric through megaphones, boasting neon signs that proclaimed people would go to hell, simply for falling in love. The church-affiliated demonstrators quoted Leviticus between their hateful slurs, trying to make scripture stick to rainbow balloons and furry go-go boots. It all seemed so strange against the backdrop of even louder dance music, its volume strategic, trying to drown out the hate.
Our group stood there for awhile in front of the protesters, holding the City Square banner high, taking a stand and showing these picketers that there is place for all of us in religion, faith, love, and peace, because these concepts are not independent of each other, but rather intertwined pieces of a meaningful life, a life everyone should be allowed without prejudice or judgment.
I thought to myself, What are these protesters experiencing? And seriously, what do they hope to gain?
Looking back, I would imagine they were feeling frustration, anxiety, and intolerance?all of those troublesome emotions you generally experience when trying to convince someone that you’re definitively right?simply because your paradigms don’t match up.
I asked myself more questions are I watched them scream and taunt everyone who walked past, trying desperately to be heard.
What good can be found in tearing down others instead of trying to understand them? What good can be found in condemning love in a world that desperately needs all the love it can get? What would these protesters feel when they went home that night?
I suddenly, and gratefully, realized that I would never know the answers to these questions, because City Square is a faith community that would never dream of being on the other side of the barricades.
Instead, we’re a faith community built on the values of acceptance, equality, love, and compassion – a community that doesn’t need a megaphone to be heard – a community willing to walk a mile in another person’s stilettos to show our unity and alliance – a community that accepts every single person trying to figure out this exhausting, joyful, fleeting moment in the sun called life.
And that’s when I felt true pride that day, walking away from the shouts of misunderstanding and unhappiness, leaving it behind and moving forward with my brothers and sisters in faith toward the light.
Recorded on April 19, 2015 @ 10:00 am guest speaker Dale Fredrickson.
Dale lives in Denver, CO and is currently the Associate Pastor at St. Andrew United Methodist Church and pastor of The Wildflower Gathering, an innovative worship gathering created around art and story. Dale’s calling is to use words in ways that invite people into the awe-inspiring adventure of discipleship. Words chosen carefully and delivered effectively, words painting pictures of hope and of the wonders of a world wowed with love—God’s love. Words that encourage, edify, educate, and empower people to become all that God has created them to be. Explore Dale’s work and original poetry at dalefredrickson.com.
In keeping with our series on moral courage, Adam Smith blessed City Square with his hauntingly beautiful tenor voice and acoustic guitar as he sang about courage in finding himself. For more information about his music, visit adamsmithmusicart.com. His latest album, So Simple Now, is an all-acoustic autobiographical exploration of his life and is certainly worth checking out.
By: Kara Kahnke
Theresa Thomas has been part of City Square from the beginning. Her friend Allison invited her to a book study group that Pastor Brian had started. Eventually, the small book club helped Pastor Brian and Pastor Rob realize that there was a greater need in Phoenix. What began as a book club grew into City Square Church.
Theresa said she couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. She grew up Chaldean or Iraqian Catholic, which is similar to Roman Catholicism. Although allied with the Roman Catholic pope, they have a different leader. Theresa noted that Catholicism was heavily ingrained in her culture growing up.
Theresa said she never quite felt at home in a Catholic church. In college, she began attending a non-denominational church, which helped her feel like she was better able to build an individual relationship with God. City Square has helped her continue this pattern. “You build your relationship with God, and you’re going to do that with people who are also building a relationship with God,” she said.
In fact, the people are what Theresa enjoys most about City Square. “Everyone here is just so genuine,” she said. “They are genuinely excited to see me inside or outside of church. They’re not one thing on paper and a different thing in person.”
Theresa said she loves that City Square sometimes pushes her out of her comfort zone. She has a big personality that helped Brian and Rob recognize her natural leadership qualities. She currently serves as the Chair of the Leadership Committee, which means she helps by directing meetings and bringing issues to a vote.
Theresa wants other people to know that City Square is a church that leads by example. “It’s a church that’s giving Christianity a good name again,” she said, noting that the church always follows through on its mission in a positive way. She is happy and proud to share City Square with others. Most importantly, Theresa knows that she will always feel accepted at City Square. “The church recognizes that whoever I am is enough.”
Recorded on April 12, 2015 – Rev. Brian Kemp-Schlemmer
What Does it mean to stand up for what you believe in? To stand up for God’s call for justice, mercy, forgiveness, and compassion when it’s not the popular thing to do? “Moral courage” is a concept found throughout the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and calls us to a risky form of love and action to do what is right.
Recorded on March 15th @ 10:00 am – 11:15 am:
Pastor Brian Kemp-Schlemmer on “The Spiritual Practice of Submission”
Whether you’ve never had it, you’ve lost it, or you live with it every day, belief can be a fickle thing. Join us through the season of Lent (2/18-3/29) as we explore the practices that move us forward on our journey of faith when we’re not sure what we believe.
March 29th – Rob Rynders