MB youth hear controversial ClaiborneBy Connie Faber and Myra Holmes Christian Leader
SAN ANTONIO, Texas — Shane Claiborne and Paula Simpson-Parry posed a dramatic yet effective contrast as keynote speakers at the U.S. Mennonite Brethren national youth convention.
Simpson-Parry, a minister in Texas, spoke during general sessions April 16-17. Claiborne, co-founder of The Simple Way community in Philadelphia, spoke April 18-19.
Simpson-Parry, a petite and proper Brit, laid out her points deliberately and clearly, while Claiborne, sporting home-made clothes, waist-long dreadlocks and a warm Tennessee drawl, told animated stories.
Though their appearance, demeanor and style couldn’t have been more different, their messages similarly challenged students to a life of Christ-like love.
When the much-anticipated, much-debated Claiborne took the stage, he challenged students to take their faith to new depths. Despite significant controversy before the event surrounding Claiborne’s selection as a speaker, he was well received.
Two groups took advantage of the convention organizers’ offer to provide a meeting place for youth who chose not to hear Claiborne.
Claiborne began his address April 18 with the story of his own faith journey.
“I’m still recovering from my conversion,” he said, adding that following Christ turned his life upside down.
Claiborne told stories of working with lepers in Calcutta, India, learning from a poor child what it means to share, throwing a “kingdom party” in Philadelphia and getting arrested for feeding the homeless.
Christians, he said, should be “holy troublemakers” who are not content with the world as it is but dare to imagine the world as it should be.
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