Making history in an age of pandemic

When this present moment becomes history, how will people know how your faith community responded? Will they know that many congrega¬tions quickly developed the capacity for online worship services—or even be able to watch our worship from their future position? Will they know which communities continued to supply food banks and provide housing for the home-less? Will you leave records reflecting the shift from pastoral visits to pastoral telephone calls and emails? It all comes down to how well you document these days.

Looking back, looking ahead

Significant anniversaries provide an opportunity to take stock of where one has been and where one is headed. This month, I celebrate 25 years of ministry with American Baptist Home Mission Societies. While my portfolio has changed during that time, one constant has been my involvement with The Christian Citizen.

Everything beautiful in its time: COVID-19, mental health, and resilience in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States

Members of the Karen ethnic group in Myanmar (formerly Burma) are no strangers to conditions that threaten their physical existence or inhibit their ability to think or reason freely. Thousands of Karen people were forced to flee their homes to escape violence, persecution, and war in the 20th century. The freedom they sought in Thai refugee camps left much to be desired, as they experienced degradation, restrictions on working and moving about, and food rations that often left them hungry and malnourished. The opportunity for some to immigrate to America, earlier this century, rekindled hope and dreams of better days. I interviewed 25 pastors in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States (KBCUSA) to gain a glimpse of the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus and conservatism

Rather than defending a traditional concept of community and common welfare in which individuals understand the connection between rights and duties, many who claim the conservative mantle substitute a doctrinaire individualism that ultimately benefits neither the individual nor society.

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.

Everything beautiful in its time: COVID-19, mental health, and resilience in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States

Everything beautiful in its time: COVID-19, mental health, and resilience in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States

Members of the Karen ethnic group in Myanmar (formerly Burma) are no strangers to conditions that threaten their physical existence or inhibit their ability to think or reason freely. Thousands of Karen people were forced to flee their homes to escape violence, persecution, and war in the 20th century. The freedom they sought in Thai refugee camps left much to be desired, as they experienced degradation, restrictions on working and moving about, and food rations that often left them hungry and malnourished. The opportunity for some to immigrate to America, earlier this century, rekindled hope and dreams of better days. I interviewed 25 pastors in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States (KBCUSA) to gain a glimpse of the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Coronavirus and conservatism

Coronavirus and conservatism

Rather than defending a traditional concept of community and common welfare in which individuals understand the connection between rights and duties, many who claim the conservative mantle substitute a doctrinaire individualism that ultimately benefits neither the individual nor society.

read more
What the eyes of the heart see

What the eyes of the heart see

Through belief in Christ, the one who was born and lived among the marginalized, whose death was at the hands of the “powers that be” of this world, and whose resurrection, ascension, and promised return we take hope in, we learn to tell, and live out, a different story. The response of the faithful is not to turn a blind eye toward the sufferings of the world, nor to be willing or silently complicit partners to these sufferings taking root in political, economic, or social policies.

read more
The role of the local church during COVID-19

The role of the local church during COVID-19

Hebrews 10:24-25 is a command to fellowship and to not stop gathering together as others have done. It is a command to encourage one another. How do we fulfill this biblical command while also following the local authorities’ command to “shelter in place” during these times? What is the role of the church during this historic moment? As some churches are grieving and others are calling this an opportunity for a revival, the inherent complexities of these questions and the reality of how one event can affect individuals differently are on full display.

read more
The things fathers pass on (if we let them)

The things fathers pass on (if we let them)

Father’s Day has arrived yet again, and no situation—no father—is perfect. Perhaps you have an imperfect relationship right now with an imperfect father. What’s your legacy? Visible or invisible, it’s likely there, but you might not have a full grasp of it until he’s gone. And that’s okay. Believe me, you’ll know it when it is upon you, and then it will be your legacy.

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Responding to COVID-19

Everything beautiful in its time: COVID-19, mental health, and resilience in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States

Everything beautiful in its time: COVID-19, mental health, and resilience in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States

Members of the Karen ethnic group in Myanmar (formerly Burma) are no strangers to conditions that threaten their physical existence or inhibit their ability to think or reason freely. Thousands of Karen people were forced to flee their homes to escape violence, persecution, and war in the 20th century. The freedom they sought in Thai refugee camps left much to be desired, as they experienced degradation, restrictions on working and moving about, and food rations that often left them hungry and malnourished. The opportunity for some to immigrate to America, earlier this century, rekindled hope and dreams of better days. I interviewed 25 pastors in the Karen Baptist Churches in the United States (KBCUSA) to gain a glimpse of the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coronavirus and conservatism

Coronavirus and conservatism

Rather than defending a traditional concept of community and common welfare in which individuals understand the connection between rights and duties, many who claim the conservative mantle substitute a doctrinaire individualism that ultimately benefits neither the individual nor society.

What the eyes of the heart see

What the eyes of the heart see

Through belief in Christ, the one who was born and lived among the marginalized, whose death was at the hands of the “powers that be” of this world, and whose resurrection, ascension, and promised return we take hope in, we learn to tell, and live out, a different story. The response of the faithful is not to turn a blind eye toward the sufferings of the world, nor to be willing or silently complicit partners to these sufferings taking root in political, economic, or social policies.

The role of the local church during COVID-19

The role of the local church during COVID-19

Hebrews 10:24-25 is a command to fellowship and to not stop gathering together as others have done. It is a command to encourage one another. How do we fulfill this biblical command while also following the local authorities’ command to “shelter in place” during these times? What is the role of the church during this historic moment? As some churches are grieving and others are calling this an opportunity for a revival, the inherent complexities of these questions and the reality of how one event can affect individuals differently are on full display.

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.

Singing the Lord’s song in strange times

Singing the Lord’s song in strange times

Communal singing is an important way we as Christians connect with God and one another in worship. No matter our preferred style of singing or level of vocal skill, we use music as a source of spiritual nourishment. In times of troubles, favorite hymns or worship songs bring us consolation and comfort. In times of joy, we yearn to lift up our hearts in song. However, as we look forward to reopening our church buildings for worship, the future of communal singing is uncertain.

Embracing the new normal—Church was made for times like these

Embracing the new normal—Church was made for times like these

The lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic should not be forgotten. Indeed, those lessons should fundamentally change how we do church, making us more creative. If we are assured of anything, it is that church can and should change so that it can meet the needs of others. After all, church was made for times like these, fostering connection when we so desperately need it.

Churches and federal financial aid during the coronavirus crisis

As Baptists, we don’t and shouldn’t look first to the government for how to overcome most difficulties. Our commitment to the separation of church and state is rooted in our theology and our history, neither of which is changed by government efforts to provide relief in a time of crisis or shifting standards of constitutional law.

Ending a catastrophe—proclaiming and providing glimpses of what J.R.R. Tolkien called eucatastrophic joy

I know many are struggling and will struggle. I admit many were struggling mightily with socioeconomic injustice well before any sign of a global pandemic was on our national horizon. But I do hold out the hope and the trust that God is with us even now, providing a pathway toward the ending that benefits all creation.

And that end shall be good, whatever catastrophe bears down on us. We have a story that calls us to proclaim and provide glimpses of what J.R.R. Tolkien would call eucatastrophic joy.

Nurturing faith at home

With households becoming schools and parents and other primary caregivers managing unprecedented challenges, making family life the primary locus of Christian education can feel like just one more overwhelming task. But it doesn’t need to be.

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The Christian Citizen

Volume 1, 2020 Print Edition

Featuring diverse writers and topics. 

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We feature thought-provoking articles and action-inspiring essays that intersect faith, politics, discipleship and citizenship, while examining a variety of public concerns ranging from gun violence, racism, trauma and sexual violence to poverty, food insecurity, disabilities and immigration.