“Awaken,” the 2019 Santa Barbara Mission Conference, held Feb. 1-2, was appreciated by all who attended. Emcees Jono Shaffer and Brandon Wong got things going Friday evening, leading to worship with the Oceanhills band. Keynote speaker Nikki Toyama-Szeto spoke about awakening to God’s dream of shalom. Following the Friday plenary the attendees enjoyed a reception, when they could converse and mingle with conference presenters.
Saturday morning began with a plenary session: more worship led by Jono, Brandon, and the band. Keynote speaker Jonathon Wilson-Hartgrove, recalling America's history of slavery, spoke about waking up to our troubling past. The morning breakout period included Marlene Wall on global education and God’s kingdom, Refugio Sanchez on Latino culture, Richard Hayner on reaching the unreached with the gospel, and Jeff Shaffer and Rita McGaw addressing the problem of human trafficking.
Everyone received a box lunch from Three Pickles Deli. Some attended the optional lunchtime workshop on the ministries of crisis and care in the aftermath of shootings, fires, and floods, all of which are painfully familiar to residents of Southern and Central California. Others had lunch at table, conversing with friends or processing what they had heard from the speakers and workshop leaders.
Following lunch Nikki spoke again. This time her topic was God’s love made visible through priests, prophets, and purveyors. The afternoon breakout periods included Dan McNerney on Christians relating to Muslims, Robert Chao Romero on migration as grace, a theological exploration, David Goss leading a panel on local mission opportunities, and Ruben and Holly Gil on living a missional lifestyle.
In the final plenary session Jonathan spoke about beloved community as mission, interacting with Nikki as he did. With help from the worship band the two keynotes led the attendees in prayer, in hearing God’s call to mission, and they ended with a charge and blessing.