By Sharon Mager
BALTIMORE, Md—“Unplugged 2015,” a popular one-day conference sponsored by Freedom Church, begins with registration at 8:30 am on April 25 at the church, 5310 Hazelwood Avenue. The conference is so named because it is unscripted. Speakers are challenged to pray and seek God’s face to hear what the Holy Spirit has for them to share regarding the unique challenges and opportunities of ministering in Baltimore.
This year’s guest speakers are Gallery Church Lead Pastor Ellis Prince and internationally known, author, speaker and civil rights activist, John M. Perkins.
God called Prince and his family to Baltimore in 2008 to plant a church and minister in the midst of an environment of poverty, high crime, drugs and prostitution. Dealers were literally selling drugs off of Prince’s front porch steps.
Just three months after his family moved to Baltimore, Prince’s then almost nine-year-old daughter was playing with neighborhood kids and was stuck by a drug needle left by junkies in some mulch. Prince literally carried her the three blocks to the hospital emergency room praying, wrestling with God about the decision to minister in Baltimore, telling God if moving to Baltimore to plant a church was going to cost him one of his kids, he was out. Prince said he felt like God picked him up, put him in his lap and said,”I’m glad I didn’t feel that way about you.”
Gallery has grown to become a family of four neighborhood churches and leader in the Baltimore church planting movement.
“If we’re going to really be serious about coming after urban environments we’re going to have people who are going to be physical casualties.
“This is where God wants me, and I know there’s going to be a cost. There’s a cost your family goes through to fish for men in the city.”
Prince said asking planters and their families to come to Baltimore City in the midst of the crime and drugs is a “huge ask.”
“As hard as it has been and as many scars as we have and as many stories we can tell, we just know this is our place of obedience,” Prince said.
John Perkins was born in poverty in Mississippi. He was the son of a sharecropper who fled to California when he was 17 after his older brother was murdered by a town marshal.
He vowed never to never come back, but after accepting Christ in 1960, returned to share the Gospel. But Perkins’ support of the civil rights movement in the 60’s led to repeated harassment, imprisonment and beatings.
He now speaks and teaches on issues of racial reconciliation and Christian community development.
The cost for “Unplugged” is $20 per person, with a $5 discount for early bird registration by Feb. 28. Students pay $10.
The “Unplugged 2015″ website has the schedule, more information about the conference and videos of past conference presentations.