October 10, 2017 | Jacquelyn Hubbard


Calvin College and Calvin Theological Seminary are partnering with the CRC's Office of Social Justice to bring “Q Commons” to the Ladies Literary Club in downtown Grand Rapids on October 26 from 7–9 p.m. Organizers of the event hope it facilitates Kingdom-building inquiry and action around issues plaguing the world today.

Q Commons: “Healing Our Divided Nation”

Q Commons is a live learning experience with speakers that challenge attendees to stay curious, think well, and advance good in their communities. The event derives from Q, the organization birthed out of Gabe Lyons’ vision to see Christians, especially leaders, recover a vision for their historic responsibility to renew and restore cultures. Q focuses on seven channels of cultural influence: media, arts & entertainment, business, education, government, social sector, and church.

“I like to say it’s like a Christian TED Talk conference in seeing how we can engage with culture,” said Kristi Potter, director of Calvin College's January Series. “It [focuses] on many topics and people doing work to make a difference in the world while engaging culture.”

One-hundred-seventy cities across the country will be hosting Q Commons simultaneously on October 26. Three national speakers will be webcast in each event, and Q Commons Grand Rapids will feature three local speakers as well. 

Under the theme “Healing Our Divided Nation,” the three national speakers are David Brooks (Cultivating Virtue), Kara Powell (Confronting our Technology Addiction) and Propaganda (Our Complicated Moment).

Q Commons Grand Rapids will also feature three influential figures making a difference in West Michigan: City Commissioner and CEO/President of Urban League Joe Jones (As a Matter of Fact, You Matter!), lawyer Luis Avila (Love Thy (Immigrant) Neighbor), and businessman Ryan Roff (Making A Disruptive Statement through Business).

Local & alumni difference-makers

Joe Jones is the first African American city councilman in Grand Rapids history and will be speaking about closing the racial equity gap in Grand Rapids. Luis Avila, a Calvin alumnus working as an associate at Varnum Law, will share his insights on local immigration issues. Ryan Roff, also a Calvin alumnus, is the creative & marketing director of boldSOCKS and will share how their bold socks are making a statement and difference by providing clean drinking water.

“Luis uses his influence as a Christian lawyer in Grand Rapids, and Ryan has taken this business concept into one with heart,” Potter said. “Everything they do feeds into making a difference in our community and in the world.”

Listening & discerning in community

Calvin’s broad interdisciplinary learning seeks to foster stronger stewardship and contribution to God’s world; to provide spaces to nurture abilities, desires and readiness for purposeful service to the world. 

“Calvin brings in many different speakers on various topics in various departments, so we have a lot of exposure to nationally known speakers and writers,” Potter said. “We try to bring in a wide variety [of speakers] who can challenge us."

At Q Commons Grand Rapids, there will also be time allotted to discussing, processing and collaborating with other attendees. “In our country at this time, we truly need to be listening and discerning from a faith perspective,” Potter said. “There are people who we may be able to find common ground and work together with to expand what we believe.”

Calvin hosts and offers this event in an effort to create a space for the Grand Rapids community to engage in important conversations and collaborate on ideas in pursuing justice on a local level. 

“Q thinks well—they’re a good organization to partner with because we share the same ideas in engaging culture with our faith. Opening this up to the community is important to us as we seek to be faithful Christians,” Potter said.

Learn more and register at the Q Commons Grand Rapids website.

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