Justice. Mercy. Faith.
Through The Christian Citizen, we seek to shape a mind among American Baptists and others on matters of public concern by providing a forum for diverse voices living and working at the intersection of faith and politics, discipleship and citizenship.
Those of us who have tried to give our all to Christ and to Christ’s church face a conundrum as to how we should encounter our brothers and sisters (and our children and grandchildren) who are spiritual but not religious. Let us be like the parents of Emily Dickinson, who affirmed her, embraced her, and welcomed her at the table.
When will Christians stop believing the lie that we are self-sufficient? When will we understand that collective responsibility for creation, for the vulnerable, is more Christ-like than personal freedom and choice? Will it be when the number of children dead from a disease, which could be controlled by a vaccine, starts rivalling the number of adults? The American evangelical church will find itself with blood on her hands unless we do better.
From churches to restaurants and government officials to family friends, I hear lots of people saying, “everyone is vaccinated, now we can do things in-person!” But when I bring up my asthmatic four-year-old or pandemic-born one-year-old, I’m met with blank stares or dismissive comments about them “not getting it as bad.” Do my kids not count as everyone? Does our immunocompromised friend not count as everyone? What about our neighbors who couldn’t access vaccines until very recently? Or those in communities where the vaccine is inaccessible? Just who is “everyone”?
There is a balm in our current coronavirus situation: cleansing, covering, community mitigation, and vaccination. Let me connect the scientific with the spiritual. Congregations prayed for a vaccine; that’s spiritual. God gave us a vaccine; that’s God working through science.
Woodstock looms large in the cultural memory of many Americans. However, the footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival (also known as “Black Woodstock”) largely remained forgotten in its film canisters until a recent documentary, “Summer of Soul,” directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.
Responding to COVID-19
Rethinking what it means to gather for worship—One Baptist church considers not returning to the building
At the South Yarra Community Baptist Church (SYCBC) in Melbourne, Australia, moving worship and congregational life online during our city’s four-month hard lockdown proved so successful that there is now a serious conversation about the possibility of continuing it and not returning to physically gathered worship.
The church may become informed on resources for poor families, such as federal aids, and become a part of collaborations to create resources for immigrant families since they do not have access to federal aid. The church may also create informal networks among congregations and social agencies, and work with social services to stay in touch with children who have had to go into foster care.
Celebrating may seem an odd practice in times where there is much to lament and navigate. I am hopeful congregants will consider offering a word of thanks to their pastors this month. Gratitude and acknowledgment for ministry may be infrequently expressed, but certainly, for your pastor, it will be gratefully received—especially right now.
The current pandemic has altered what we do and how we do it; the practice of communion—during the liturgy and in our daily table fellowship—is no exception. Despite our altered circumstances and the deaths of so many, the spiritual food with which we draw and serve continues to multiply. No pandemic is going to alter that.
This year on World Communion Sunday, I suggest that what unifies Christians is the yearning for communion and the connection that it represents. Strangely, there is perhaps nothing more ecumenical than that unfulfilled desire in the midst of a pandemic, one of many missed points of connection.
Looking for a daily miracle helps your brain stay active by anticipating something special. For people of faith, it’s a wonderful way to live. You have to slow your pace a bit to notice, rather than rushing from task to task (or Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting).
As Christians, we are duty bound to go and see what our Lord thought was so important. Can anything good come from terrorist attacks or viral pandemics? Come and see. Right now, you might feel stressed under the fig tree of your own anxiety, but a belief in the restorative power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus of Nazareth embodied can carry you beyond any crisis because that was God’s plan from the beginning—to make us whole again.
CDC resources for community & faith leaders
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has resources to help you plan, prepare and respond to community transmission of coronavirus disease including interim guidance for faith and community leaders.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies resources for congregational response to COVID-19
Information for American Baptists and American Baptist congregations about best practices to help reduce the spread of the virus in general as well as in congregational settings.
ministrElife community for faith leaders
Find resources, share best practices, and stay connected to other ministry professionals during the COVID-19 pandemic.
ROOTED IN HEAVEN WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR HOW WE LIVE OUR LIVES HERE AND NOWChristian Citizen Ambassadors
Write for us.
We feature thought-provoking articles and action-inspiring essays that intersect faith, politics, discipleship