By Moira Cullings
GRANDVIEW, Mo. — People from over 40 countries and a variety of faith backgrounds came together Oct. 24-26 for Kairos 2017 — a unity and revival conference at Forerunner School of Ministry here.
“There were several purposes of this gathering,” said Deacon Dana Nearmyer, director of evangelization for the archdiocese and master of ceremonies for a portion of the event.
The anniversaries of the Ecumenical Charismatic Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, the Catholic charismatic renewal, the Messianic Movement and the Protestant Reformation were just a few.
“It [comes from] the command of Christ that even if we don’t all worship in the same house, at least we would be children that aren’t warring with each other,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, was one of several speakers at the event.
“There’s something about us,” said Cardinal DiNardo. “We want unity, we pray for it, we’d love to have it — and we still fight.”
Discussing how to overcome differences and work together was a major theme of the entire event, said Deacon Nearmyer.
“The kind of unity this conference talked about was that we have faith in Jesus and [in] the basic message of Jesus,” he said.
“What was said over and over was that our theology, our practice, our ideologies may not be unified,” he continued. “But we should be able to respectfully have incredible conversations over those things knowing we’re unified in the cross.”
Cardinal DiNardo touched not only on Jesus’ cry for unity, but his entire life, death and resurrection.
“The whole world is transformed because of what Jesus starts [at the Last Supper] and what he finishes on the cross the next day,” said Cardinal DiNardo.
He stated his hope that bridges will be built within the body of Christ.
“If we are engaged in Jesus Christ and his mercy, the love of the Father and the gift of the Holy Spirit, then we will find a way to the embrace of each other with the Lord Jesus,” he said.
That embrace never seemed as possible as it did when keynote speaker Will Ford spoke, said Deacon Nearmyer.
Ford’s talk centered on a kettle pot, in which his ancestors, who were slaves, used to cook their meals.
But they also used it for something greater.
“They would put the pot on rocks and pray under the pot two inches from the ground so their prayers could rise up, but they wouldn’t be heard by the [slave]master,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
Ford began to research the family that owned his ancestors and prayed for healing between his family and theirs.
Eventually, he met a descendant of the slaveholders, and now the two are great friends.
“I think it was representative that through prayer, those guys became very best friends,” said Deacon Nearmyer.
The talks from both Cardinal DiNardo and Ford extended hope toward a Christianity that works together despite its differences, and Deacon Nearmyer believes that is pertinent for the future of the church.
“This generation demands an authenticity that is humbling, and it’s purifying,” he said.
“If we’re going to connect with young people, we’ve got to be unified,” he added.