The Speaker Series is a place for change makers to spark a thoughtful and often disquieting dialogue about pressing local issues and connect the dots between faith and action. How do certain injustices show up in the East Bay context or history, and what we can do about it in our neighborhoods?
Our hope is for speakers and their organizations to broadcast their message and add to their network of supporters; and for our attendees, that they would deepen their awareness around local social justice issues and access opportunities to get involved with Project Peace partners.
In the past, the event has drawn up to 700 people with speakers such as:
Michael Pollan (author of “Omnivore’s Dilemma”)
Dr. Mark Labberton (President of Fuller Seminary)
Kevin Bales (author of “Disposable People” and founder of “Free the Slaves,” an organization dedicated to eradicating modern day slavery)
Rev. Michael McBride (Director of the LiveFree PICO campaign)
Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil (Pastor & Professor at Seattle Pacific University)
The United States Constitution begins with the inclusive sounding words "We the People", but it can be argued that it has never fully meant "All the People”.
Corrina Gould grounds a history we need to remember rightly in the context of the Bay Area. Mark Charles then examines our national history to understand the depth of the problem, in particular, looking at the racism embedded in founding documents and history rationalized by Christian belief. He concludes with a vision for how these deep and systemic challenges can be addressed. Rev. Sandhya Jha moderates a Q&A, with an optional debrief afterwards led by Mark Charles.
What if our society has already gotten off on the wrong foot when we start with the assumption that there's not enough to go around? Our contemporary economy prioritizes efficiency, profit, and production, but Dr. Michael Barram shares about the implications of God's economy that focuses on need, not gain, and starts from abundance, not scarcity. His talk is followed by a conversation and Q&A with Mary Ellen Azada, Executive Director of Fuller Careers and Personal Development.
What does it looks like for racialized people to lament the stories of others? Featuring the stories of Michael Kim-Eubanks, Sarah Park, and Teressa Coenen, the Lament Project experience is meant to disrupt and create conditions for a pause of deep honesty as we acknowledge truths about our trauma as well as our complicity with racial injustice, and practice of sitting in tension with the narratives of our lives: inhabiting our identity as the people of God while also being Black, White, and Asian.
Why is housing displacement is important to our communities and what difference does a faith commitment makes in the conversation and the work? A panel discussion and Q&A included: Jesse Arreguín, Mayor of Berkeley, Dr. Michael Barram, New Testament Scholar, Economic Justice & Missional Hermeneutics at St. Mary’s College, Rev. Sandhya Jha, Founder & Director of the Oakland Peace Center, former Director of Interfaith Programs at East Bay Housing Organizations, Sam Davis, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at UC Berkeley, and Terrie Light, Executive Director of Berkeley Food & Housing Project.
How are people of faith called to leverage power and privilege to lead in advocating for the common good? Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil used the biblical story of Esther to introduce a model that uses power and privilege for justice and challenge the audience to examine if we, too, may have been born "for such a time as this”. This event also featured an exhibitor fair of local organizations for people to more deeply engage in local justice work.
How have public policies separated the East Bay? How can people of faith be a part of a solution that involves working with the broader community? We explored this topic with a featured keynote by Professor Richard Rothstein and Rev. Ben McBride, followed by a panel discussion and exhibitors’ fair.
How do race and faith intersect? Keynote speakers Dr. Mark Labberton (President of Fuller Theological Seminary) and Rev. Michael McBride (Pastor of The Way Christian Center in Berkeley and Campaign Director of the PICO Lifelines to Healing Campaign) shared their thoughts about this intersection, followed by a panel discussion with local faith leaders and an exhibitors' fair featuring 15 agencies working in the East Bay.
What is the current state of slavery and how can we engage in the movement to finally end it? Dr. Kevin Bales, the world’s leading expert on modern slavery as well as the co-founder of Free the Slaves led this urgent discussion. We partnered with over 35 organizations at our exhibitor fair and were able to donate a portion of the proceeds to New Day for Children, MISSSEY, and Samaritana—each involved in combatting modern day slavery.