The Seattle School of Theology & Psychology will host its annual Pastor’s Breakfast on Thursday, September 10. Each year, The Seattle School offers the free breakfast to refresh, inspire, and challenge the leaders and practitioners who are advancing the work of local churches and ministries.

For this year’s gathering, “The Heart of Reconciliation,” Dr. Caprice Hollins and Dr. Ron Ruthruff will lead a candid conversation about the challenges of fostering diversity and inclusiveness within the church. Hollins and Ruthruff, core faculty members at The Seattle School, both have decades of experience championing reconciliation and challenging the church to serve people from all backgrounds more intentionally and effectively.

“There was a time in our country when naming difference meant segregation and racial epithets that dehumanized those who were different,” says Hollins. “While we still struggle with some of that, our society has mostly shifted from noticing difference to a colorblind ideology that hopes to improve our race relations by pretending we don’t notice race. Both approaches are harmful, and neither work. As a nation we have to figure out what it means to notice difference but not see the differences as negative or inferior.”

“Dietrich Bonhoeffer claimed that we must listen with the ears of God if we are to speak the word of God,” says Ruthruff. “I believe that right now, considering the cultural climate around race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, we have a great opportunity—if we collectively listen. This is what I hope for our faith communities and our leadership: that we listen and discern well together, and that it produces words of beauty, community, and justice in the world we live in.”

Together, Hollins and Ruthruff will lead us in wrestling with these vital questions: What does it mean to lead from a place of reconciliation and restoration? What does it look like for the church to work together across cultural lines? How can the church respond to narratives of cultural injustice? If we hope to participate in the ongoing work of the Kingdom of God, this is not a conversation we can afford to ignore.

Ruthruff engages those questions and others in his upcoming book: “I don’t think we can do justice properly without admitting the effects of class, gender, sexual identity, and ethnicity on our shared experience. […] How do my markers of identity impact how I am perceived and how I perceive the world? What does it mean to fight for justice and love the world when we all come from such different places? How do we honestly explore the social collateral that some of us have been given and some of us have been denied? How do we intentionally spend this currency in the right places and in the right way?”

“The work we have to do as a nation requires that all of us become a part of the conversation,” says Hollins. “I am thankful that our pastors are working to figure out what it means to effectively lead their communities in conversations about equity, inclusion, and social justice. I look forward to the dialogue and being a part of shaping our world into one where we learn what it looks like to honor the dignity and humanity of our fellow brothers and sisters.”

The 2015 Pastor’s Breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. on September 10. Registration is available here.

Caprice-HollinsAbout Dr. Caprice Hollins

Dr. Caprice D. Hollins, Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology and Practicum Leader at The Seattle School, was born and raised in Seattle and grew up in Rainier Valley. She received a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Multicultural and Community Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles.

Dr. Hollins returned to Seattle in 1998, became a licensed clinical psychologist, and completed her postdoctoral work at Atlantic Street Center—a local mental health agency serving primarily youth and families of color. Her focus has been on working with children and families from diverse ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. For the past 10 years she has facilitated workshops and taught graduate courses to increase students’ and participants’ awareness, knowledge, and skills in working with ethnically diverse populations.

Dr. Hollins served as the Director of Equity, Race & Learning Support for Seattle Public Schools for four years, supporting the District’s educational efforts to dismantle institutional racism. She recently started a consulting business, Cultures Connecting, LLC, providing culturally relevant professional development and consulting services to organizations seeking to improve their skills in effectively engaging all cultures.

ron-psAbout Dr. Ron Ruthruff

Dr. Ruthruff serves as Associate Professor of Theology & Culture at The Seattle School, where he is a member of the core faculty and the anchor professor for global and social partnerships. He is ordained clergy with the Street Psalms Community and an associate with Street Psalms Resource Center, providing pastoral care, training, and support for grassroots urban leaders who serve youth and families in hard places around the world.

Dr. Ruthruff holds a Master of Science degree from Pepperdine University and a Doctor of Ministry in Complex Urban Settings degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston. His dissertation, Welcoming Kids to the Table of Community: New Horizons Ministries as a Model of Service to Homeless Runaway Adolescents, addresses the psychosocial and spiritual issues surrounding homeless adolescents and describes a relationally based and theologically supported service delivery strategy to serve these marginalized young people.

For the past 30 years, with his wife Linda, Ron has served marginalized communities and street-involved youth. He has provided case management services, designed programs, and educated the community on the issues that impact this vulnerable population. He is the author of The Least of These: Lessons Learned from Kids on the Street and the upcoming book Closer to the Edge: Walking with Jesus for the World’s Sake.

Dr. Ruthruff has traveled the globe to lecture and consult on missiology, urban ministry, social justice, and marginalized people groups. He is also on a regular preaching schedule at several Seattle-area churches and serves his local community as a pastoral presence.