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G.A. Co-Moderators

Third Conversation on Unity with Difference


Whitworth University 2014

Seeley Mudd Chapel Sanctuary

“Race, Gender, Religious Identities”

Watch the event 'On Demand'.

panel members

Third Conversation on Unity with Difference - Whitworth University 2014 from Office of the General Assembly on Vimeo.

The first Unity with Difference conversation was held on December 2012 at Stony Point Center (New York).
The Second was held on December 2013 at Princeton Theological Seminary (New Jersey).

Twitter:  follow #UnityDiff

Please note: Registration is unnecessary for this event. Attendees will only be responsible for purchasing food if they choose to eat in the cafeteria. However, please contact Margaret Classen, Chapel Office at (509) 777-4345.

panel members

Paper Presenters and Titles

  • Lawrence  Burnley - “Rethinking Academic Excellence: Toward the Construction of an Authentic Commitment to Achieving Unity with Difference
    My paper will explore how core curricula of educational institutions in the U.S. – private, public, secular, and faith-based – reproduces a metanarrative of our historical experience and contemporary reality in a way that perpetuates, reinforces, and advances unearned privilege and false notions of superiority associated with certain identities. The defense and reproduction of this “canon” serves only to thwart efforts at achieving “unity with difference” and sustain oppressive forms of power relations within the church and broader society. I will invite participants to think about ways we can demonstrate a commitment to inclusion with regard to the voices and lenses of groups who have and continue to be marginalized and excluded from the center of the intellectual and ecclesial discourses of our educational and religious institutions.
  • Jose Irizarry - “Signifying Div(i)nity: The practice and ethics  of constructing another””
    Diversity is the condition of human affairs grounded in the singularity and irreducibility of each person.  Difference, we are reminded by cultural critics, is a social construction that claims aspects of that diversity as significations of “otherness”.  This presentation will explore the concepts of hospitality, proximity and natality, as theological tropes that Christian communities can explore as they develop an ethics for addressing cultural and racial difference that promotes unity in the midst of God-given diversity.  In contrast, it will present how Christian communities have practiced a counter-ethics when addressing differences through the deliberate construction of the other by means of “Divine Performance”.  The practices of masking, scripting, and impersonating, will be illustrated as examples of divine performance.
  • Raymond Reyes - “The Gravity and Grace of Divine Different: An Auspicious Orbit and Dance with Productive Discomfort
    A heuristic reflection of lessons learned from soul’s journey in a Mexican/American Indian Male embodiment through the organizational life at a faith-based predominately white institution (PWI).  In doing so, we will explore the spiritual significance of human diversity while gazing through the lens of the principles and practices of Ignatian Pedagogy.  Is it possible to dignify difference by walking the talk of St. Ignatius of Loyola when he invites us to “let your soul hold itself tranquil and peaceful ready to submit to the action of God?”
  • Matilde Moros - “Wade in the Water
    In the era of decolonial theologies, how can a first world church remain on the edge and risk it all for the God of life?  We must first remember who we are, and wade in the troubled waters, before we can be free.  Unity in the midst of difference means embracing the trouble of the living water.
  • Laura Cheifetz - “Power and the Black-White Binary: Forging Authentic Church Identities in the Midst of White Supremacy, Patriarchy, and BeingOther Asian”*”
    Being church together is challenged by the ways in which various church communities and individual church members interact with power based on race and gender, not to mention class status and regional identity. The church, particularly the PC(USA), includes people with diverse capacities for a real conversation. Through exploring the place of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (who in the PC(USA) can check either “Korean” or “Other Asian” for demographic information on some forms) and others dislocated by the black-white binary in church and U.S. society, together we seek a way to move forward toward being a church that allows for complexities of identity and addresses real inequalities.
  • Bridgett Green - “Always a Widow and Never the Judge: Power and Privilege in the Kingdom of God
    In this presentation, we will use Jesus’ telling of the parable of the Widow and the Judge (Luke 18:1-8) to critically reflect on how we, as individuals living in community, are called to dignify difference as partakers in the kingdom of God.  This story offers an understanding of (in)justice as a dynamic process that is maintained through the power of individual and collective (in)actions. Through our exploration, we will discuss being advocates and allies in the pursuit of justice, dignity, and liberation.
  • Terry McGonigal - “The Book of Acts:  A Case Study in the Early Church’s Struggle to Develop Theological and Relational Intercultural Unity with Difference
    The issues of race, gender and ethnicity are categories used by humanity to  create cultures of exclusion.  Every culture has developed criteria which distinguish between “them” and “us.”  At Pentecost God’s Spirit is poured out upon  “all people” (Acts 2:17, Joel 2:28), creating a new kind of community made up of people who simply wanted to be followers of Jesus.   The book of Acts tells the story of how this gospel message about Jesus spread throughout the Roman Empire, constantly challenging and changing the nature of relationships with God and with each other.  This presentation will trace some of the contours of the early church’s struggle to live into the reality of what God’s Spirit was doing, and still is doing, in the community of God’s people called the church.

About the Presenters

Lawrence BurnleyLawrence  Burnley
Assistant Vice President for Diversityand Intercultural Relations and Assistant Professor of History at Whitworth University , Spokane, WA. Read more.



Jose IrizarryJose Irizarry
Director of Cambridge College, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Read more.


Raymond ReyesRaymond Reyes
Associate Academic Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. Read more.


Matilde MorosMatilde Moros
Acting Director of Field Education and Assistant Dean for Special Programs at New Brunswick Theological Seminary, Co-Moderator of the General Assembly Special Committee on the Belhar Confession. Read more.


Laura CheifetzLaura Cheifetz
Executive Director of Church and Public Relations at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Read more.


Bridgett GreeBridgett Green
Acquisitions Editor for Bible at the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and Ph.D. candidate in New Testament at Vanderbilt University. Read more.


Terry McGonigalTerry McGonigal
Dean of Spiritual Life and Director of the Office of Church Engagement, Whitworth University.



*each plenary includes a 30-45 min presentation, followed by a 60-90 min Q&A, engagement from the live and on-line community

March 12

9am – 10am

10am – 10:30am 

10:30am – 10:45am 

10:45am – 12noon 

12noon – 1pm

 1:00pm – 2:45pm

2:45pm – 3:15pm

3:15pm – 5pm


Opening prayer and song, Welcome and introductions by President Beck Taylor and Moderator Neal Presa

Plenary 1 – Lawrence Burnley




Plenary 2: Raymond Reyes


Plenary 3: Matilde Moros

President Beck Taylor Colloquy (optional)

March 13

8:30am – 10:30am

10:30am – 11 am

11:00am – 11:30am

11:30am – 1pm

1:00pm – 2:45pm

2:45pm – 3:15pm

3:15pm – 5pm

Plenary 4: Laura Cheifetz


Community Chapel


Plenary 5: Terry McGonigal


Plenary 6: Bridgett Green

March 14

9:00am – 10:45am

10:45am – 11am

11am – 11:30am

11:30am – 12noon

Plenary 7: Jose Irizarry


All Presenters in Roundtable

Concluding prayer

Still have questions:

Angie Stevens - (888) 728-7228, x5424
Assistant manager to the Stated Clerk and the GA Moderator

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