The Rev. Cameron Robinson is Associate Pastor at Village Church Greenville in Greenville, South Carolina. We picked his brain about diversity, ways to move the missional conversation forward, and what living the Gospel looks like in his everyday life.
I’m a cradle Reformed Episcopalian. Multiple generations of my family, both maternal and paternal, have worshipped as Reformed Episcopalians. My home diocese is unique in that it is infused with my culture rooted in African American and African spiritual expression. Hymns sung as spirituals have a way of getting past the trivial and moving straight to the heart of who we are and what we need.
What I like about being part of the Telos Collective
I enjoy hearing about ministry in different parts of the world. I enjoy most that we may not be in the same region, but we share Anglicanism and a desire to reach our communities and cultures with the Gospel. We each have a passion centered on the Gospel and this expression of the Christian faith. It’s great to be in community!
What the gospel looks like through my lens
The Good News is that we have the ultimate example of sacrificial love in Jesus Christ. Sometimes it’s easy to maintain homogeneous worship spaces and not enter the alleys of the inner-city or the back road of the country. The Gospel requires us to leave the protection of comfort and engage the needs of our community, even if it’s scary. Catechesis will come, but a food pantry or after school tutoring may be the first need outside our doors.
Personally, I know there are children and adults who attend churches and have below average literacy skills. Some barely made it through grade school and some struggle presently. The church has to take an active role in mediating the crisis of illiteracy. If the church steps up to the plate and begins to aid struggling schools and school systems, the community will immediately gain! If we say we are here to serve, what better opportunity than the local school? Churches have embraced organizations like LittleFreeLibrary.org and various other forms of educational outreach. I live with a great passion for education and the gospel prompts me to work with the least of these. Unfortunately, many of them have been failed by the school systems. I look forward to seeing the church work as a solution to this problem as we baptize believers and teach others how to spell Jesus.
How we can move forward with the conversation
The way we move forward is to refocus our purpose on the community and think less about our four walls. Forward progress will require that we walk out of our front doors and engage the restlessness so prevalent in our communities, as well as the growing divide between cultures in our country. The conversation cannot be purely theological with rhetoric used to appease our insecurities, but we need to spend time talking to each other about the real needs in our communities and collectively create new solutions to those problems. Once we establish a cohort of solution-oriented people, we may find it infectious.
The hardest part of the Intersection Conference
The most challenging aspect of the conference was the frustration associated with “not quite getting there…” We spent most of our time trying to prove how much we understood about God, as opposed to actually engaging the image of God in each of us.
The best part of the Intersection Conference
On the last day, I had the pleasure of eating breakfast with three other people, and in that moment I realized I was experiencing the true gift of Anglicanism; I experienced diversity of worship and culture tied together through an understanding of liturgy, Word, and Sacrament. That experience made my trip! We talked through various definitions of minority (Woman Anglican, New Anglican, Black Anglican, Armenian Anglican), and I had immense hope for the future.
Sometimes church is a safety net and we gather with like-minded people, not to grow, but to protect ourselves from being challenged. At this table, I was fully heard as a Black Anglican who hopes for a world where multi-cultural worship is normative. We fully heard the experience of our brother who is Armenian and Anglican and we also heard from our sister, navigating the turbulence of call in our commune. Our brother listened and shared as he felt comfortable while listening to our stories. What a time of worship as we gathered around the table! I can’t express how powerful and refreshing that moment was for me, even after stepping into the ocean of the West coast as a native of the East Coast! Sharing that meal gave me hope for our growing province.
I walked away with an understanding of “Faithful Presence” that I appreciated, and I also appreciated the challenge of understanding my TELOS as a pastor and leader. David [Fitch] shared with me that my passion is to translate and help those who don’t understand gain clarity; I appreciated that lesson. My greatest gift was from a cohort member who shared a word with me after hearing about my family. His example of pastoring even at a conference, to a complete stranger, is what I hope future conferences will be like. I hope the future is similar to the praying session we experienced at the end.
Who I’d like to take to coffee
I would take Bishop Hunter! He stated that we need more diversity and I completely agree. There needs to be a larger conversation about the trajectory of the church and our support and understanding of Black and Brown people IN the United States of America as well as in the world. Not only would this conversation be helpful for the Telos Collective, but it would be helpful as we attempt to engage a culture not too concerned with Christ, but more concerned with lifting up self. If we really want to reach the world, let’s make sure the world and our immediate community is welcome in our church.
What a day it will be when we look into the congregation and see a sea of faces representing all people, all worshiping the Triune God. That’s a mission I’m on board with!
Connect with Cameron on Twitter at @ArthurCameron_.