I wanted to take a few moments to tell my readers about a conference I've been working on, Slave-Free City Summit. For me the idea of a Slave-Free City started out of my context as pastor.
Theologically speaking, slavery is an all out assault on and complete contempt for the image of God in humanity. When the highest office of mankind, the image of God, is debased to something less than life, an active and tangible response from the Church is, at a very minimum, necessary. If we believe human life is dawned by the image of God, then we must, figure out how to respond to the violence of human slavery. We must be about restoring freedom and dignity to humanity. These ideas created in me a desire to see Austin, Texas, become the first Slave-Free City in the United States, only to be a reproducible model that would take root in other major cities and contexts. I believe this is only possible when we as the church are willing to humbly partner and collaborate with all the different sectors of society to make it as hard as possible for slavery to exist in our neighborhoods and cities. To be a person and community of faith who is for the city, to be a pastor who preaches ultimate freedom in and through Jesus Christ, to be a theologian who understands and knows the constant thread of justice and righteousness that runs deep throughout the pages of our scriptures and not actively respond to the issue of slavery in our city is at the very least inconsistent with who we claim be. I believe, in partnership with local non-profits, government organizations, law enforcement, local business, and education the church can help lead the way to seeing our cities, the cities we love, become Slave-Free!
One of the ways Allies is committed to seeing this dream become a reality is by hosting one of the, if not the most, unique Summits in the United States. Allies is attempting to do something very few have done, and even less have had success doing. The Summit is not a Christian conference, nor an education conference, nor a conference dedicated to social workers and law enforcement only, the Summit is a gathering of people from all sectors of society (just look at their speaker list), coming together under one roof to learn from each other what it will take to build a Slave-Free City. The Summit will address topics such as disruption of unjust systems, race, history, art, faith, immigration, transitional justice, tech, enterprise, business, and other issues that intersect with the problem of human trafficking right here in our back yard.