Los Angeles
(Photo : David Jones/Flickr)

Los Angeles is a unique city with diverse groups of people ethnically as well as socioeconomically, and the city itself contains various neighborhoods that are vastly different from each other: Beverly Hills, Hollywood, Echo Park, Koreatown, Little Ethiopia, South Central, Compton, Little Tokyo, and Downtown, to name a few—all in one city. Recognizing the importance and uniqueness of Los Angeles as a city, Christian leaders in various contexts, including churches, non-profits, government, and entertainment, have decided to gather at the upcoming ‘TogetherLA,’ in hopes to equip and connect Christian leaders to love the city more effectively.

“Los Angeles is one of the key cities of not only the U.S., but of the entire world,” said Tommy Lee of re:source global, who is one of the organizers for the three-day event. “It’s the hub for entertainment and culture. And because of the impact that it has, it’s so important for us to understand what is happening in LA.”

Though the idea for the conference was originally one focused on church planting, organizers quickly realized that “it takes more than one church or one non-profit to make a difference in the community, and no one church or organization can do it alone,” Lee said.

“If we want to make a difference in our communities and in our city, we have to not only look at the church’s role, but understand what God is doing as a whole in each neighborhood, and the work that He is doing through the non-profits, the organizations, the community leaders, and the marketplaces currently in those areas,” Lee continued.

Organizers hope that attendees and speakers alike would be able to unite together, and get a greater picture of how God is moving in the city of Los Angeles.

“Our goals are really simple: 1) to ask and begin to answer the question, ‘What does it mean to love our city?’ and 2) to begin a conversation amongst all Christian leaders in Los Angeles to unite us in our work together,” Brannin Pitre, the senior pastor of Grace Pasadena Church and the chairman of the steering committee for TogetherLA, explained in the event website.

Lee added that, if anything else, the organizers hope TogetherLA will be an opportunity for Christian leaders to become familiar with each other, and show opportunities for people to get involved in engaging and loving the city by spotlighting non-profits, ministries, organizations, and individuals through whom God is already moving.

Hence, moving beyond the church or ministry context, the speakers and sessions at the conference will also be discussing issues such as immigration, the culture of Hollywood and entertainment, children at risk, and racial tensions within the community. The conference, in turn, is not only for pastors or those in ministry; rather, it is meant for all those who care about the social issues of Los Angeles and desire to know concrete opportunities to be involved in impacting the city.

Though the conference has been highlighting Timothy Keller as one of the key speakers for the conference due to his well-known ministry work in engaging an urban community, the conference also features dozens of prominent speakers who are Los Angeles natives and/or currently doing work in Los Angeles. Speakers also represent people from diverse backgrounds in all contexts including gender, ethnicity, and field of work to touch upon the extensive and diverse needs of the city of Los Angeles. Some of the speakers include Michael Lee, the senior pastor of Young Nak Celebration Church; Bishop Charles Blake from the West Angeles Church of God in Christ; Hyepin Im from Korean Churches for Community Development; Larry Acosta, founder of Hispanic Ministry Center and Urban Youth Workers Institute; and Aja Brown, the Mayor of the City of Compton.

TogetherLA will be taking place from February 26 to 28 at the West Angeles Church of God in Christ. The event also features a free city-wide gathering as the night session on the last night, featuring Timothy Keller as the main speaker. For more information and to register, visit www.togetherla.net.