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Healing relationships across racial lines is a vital component of healing relationships within the body of Christ, Trinity Christian College College chaplain Tim Hoekstra said during a Christian social services conference last month. The event, held October 24 and 25 in Lisle, Illinois, was sponsored jointly by the National Association of Christian Child and Family Agencies and the North American Association of Christians in Social Work.

Hoekstra led the workshop "Breaking Down the Dividing Walls of Hostility" during one of the breakout sessions. He recounted his experience as a white pastor going into the inner city of Chicago to listen to the perspectives of black church leaders.

"I was deeply enriched by what I learned from my African-American brothers and sisters," said Hoekstra. "It was important for us as a white suburban church to submit ourselves to those leaders and say, 'We're ready to learn from you. Teach us!' That made a big impact."

Felecia Thompson, Trinity's director of academic support and services, was another guest speaker. Her presentation, "Taking It to the Streets," explained the resources churches need to provide social services within their communities.

"I described a practical guide to beginning an effective faith-based social service agency," said Thompson, who heads one such agency, the Family Care Network that operates from her church in Chicago. "There's a need for them, and people want to know how to implement them."

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