I look forward to attending the Christian Community Development Association national conference every year. BGU has had a long-term partnership with the CCDA which has yielded many graduates and faculty members who are deeply connected to both organizations. I traveled to Charlotte, North Carolina for this year’s conference - that took place November 2-5, 2022 - with several emerging leaders from my church in Pittsburgh.
The theme of this year’s conference focused on well-being. Followers of Jesus should take care of ourselves… physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Yet, the work of Christian community development on the margins of society often leads to burnout or stress levels that can be too much to handle, leading to health and vocational challenges. The workshops and keynote addresses centered on providing practical methods for self-care and organizational health in the midst of a tumultuous world. I always appreciate the many diverse perspectives that are shared at the conference. I walked away this year with many takeaways.
One of the highlights for me came when BGU graduate, Dr. Kathy Dudley, addressed the large crowd as a keynote speaker and panel facilitator. She shared much about her BGU learning journey, and how that led to tremendous transformational impact locally for her in the Dallas area and also internationally through her work in unifying and equipping leaders in Nigeria and elsewhere. Servant leadership and shalom leadership, two of BGU’s eight perspectives on transformational leadership, really resonated through her story that she shared from the platform. It was also encouraging to see her elevating leaders that she had invested in during her leadership journey.
I bumped into many other BGU graduates and faculty members while I was there. I was particularly inspired by a workshop that I attended that was led by another BGU graduate, Dr. Autumn Swain. She shared about her passion that stemmed from her research at BGU… mainly how leaders can stay healthy in all aspects of their lives while leading during the trying circumstances that many of us are living through. Autumn coaches leaders who then turn around and help the leaders in their own organizations to take care of themselves. I admired her ability to turn her BGU research into a springboard for her current and future work. I was also excited to hear that she is planning to launch a new book soon called The Playground Leader: Life Changing ABCs for the Whole Family. I’ve already preordered my copy.
All in all, I drove away from Charlotte happy with conversations that I had with new potential students, the opportunity to catch up with CCDA friends and partners, and excited about the practical training that I received that I could apply right away in the urban context where I serve as a pastor in Pittsburgh. It was another great CCDA conference!
Dr. Bryan McCabe