In his call letter for our 2023 Annual Conference Sessions, Bishop Cedrick D. Bridgeforth centered the theme “Go and Do Likewise” around the story of The Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 30-37. He writes, “In this parable, we find characters who exhibit attributes of servanthood, piety, mercy and grace. Their intent and impact make a difference, especially considering the religious and historical context, and societal norms present, when Jesus first told this story. These characters hold up mirrors for us to see ourselves more clearly and open windows to possibilities beyond our imagination.”
This year’s Annual Conference logo features the work of artist He Qi in the piece titled “The Good Samaritan” (© 2001, licensed and used with permission). Dr. He Qi is a Chinese artist who paints biblical stories in a folk-art style from a Chinese context. He is an artist-in-residence at Fuller Theological Seminary (CA) and a distinguished visiting professor at the Art Institute of RUC (Renmin University of China, Beijing).
He Qi’s artwork also captures the idea of perception our bishop asks us to reflect upon in his call letter. In a description of his piece share one interpretation: “The many-colored landscape with its curving road gives the sense that the journey has been long. Only the injured man is shown looking straight out at the viewer as though he wants his story to be told. The ‘hero’ of the parable is looking off to the side as if he doesn’t really like being in the spotlight. Does the donkey approve of his owner’s actions?”
Who are we in the stories we tell? How can we open ourselves to the ways others see the world? What will we learn about ourselves, and what assumptions about our neighbors will we need to unlearn to be Christ for them?
As we make the journey toward Annual Conference, this theme and this image allow us to reflect on our own stories and journeys and the stories of mercy, grace, servanthood and more that we hope to take home from each of our Annual Conference sessions.