Why we need to be American Baptist

Why we need to be American Baptist

Amid today’s political polarities and culture wars, American Baptists have significant contributions to make to American society, particularly in the recognition of women in ordained ministry and the rightful place for all religions to provide spiritual life and practice to all Americans and residents from all corners of the world.

Are you creative?

Are you creative?

A colleague of mine once presented a theological paper where he made an excellent case that the image of God was creativity. I’ve never forgotten this idea.

Kids who die, adults who contribute

Kids who die, adults who contribute

The things that cause kids to die in this country – hate crimes, suicide, racism, neglect, abuse, hunger, war, gun violence – were no different in Langston Hughes’ day than they are now, and they ought to spur us not just to act but to move. What movements ought we to be crafting to love and protect children?

Still masking after all these years

Still masking after all these years

We saved lives in 2020 with social distancing and with a vaccine in 2021. We have the potential to save them today if we resist the push to all or nothing and instead focus together on how we can reduce harm.

Remembering Olive Tiller

Remembering Olive Tiller

“She was willing to be a leader when needed and a follower when needed.” Such virtue is among the greatest needs—but least celebrated—of our movements.

Calling Pastor AI

Calling Pastor AI

Remember all those committees and board meetings? We don’t need them now. Pastor AI takes care of everything, and everyone gets what they want.

Estimada Interrupción: la discordia abre paso a la experiencia nativa, brindando una plataforma para la voz nativa

Estimada Interrupción: la discordia abre paso a la experiencia nativa, brindando una plataforma para la voz nativa

Las comunidades nativas, aunque dormidas bajo el peso del silencio forzado, la pesadez de los ciclos de abuso y el mensaje persistente de que fuimos eliminados, eliminables y derrotados, ahora podemos reclamar nuestro idioma, nuestra cultura y nuestra capacidad de amar y proteger a nuestros niños en nuestros hogares, en las escuelas y en la iglesia.

The mystery within the clergy soul

The mystery within the clergy soul

Clergy will find some collegiality with Sidney Chambers in James Runcie’s Grantchester Mysteries book series (and the two priests of the Grantchester television adaptation). The times are changing, the pastoral calling continues, and those in service of a parish call keep the faith, sometimes even despite themselves.

Save one life. Start there.

Save one life. Start there.

We know that saving one life does not save the world. But we have to start somewhere. And once you get started, you might be surprised at the chain reaction of actions that you spark in your community.

Calling all prophets

Calling all prophets

The end of the relevance of the church will not come at the hands of a pandemic, AI technology, or a particular party gaining power; no, it will come at our own doings. It will come when prophets stop speaking.

Keeping Sabbath

Keeping Sabbath

Keeping Sabbath runs counter to the ways of the world and the powers that be, but keeping Sabbath is a reflection and a reminder that we are not the pinnacle of creation. Rather, the enjoyment of God and God’s creation is.

Butterfly lessons for a climate-changed world

Butterfly lessons for a climate-changed world

Like the monarch butterflies, themselves facing the stresses and challenges of a changing world, we as a species need to embrace the radical art of transformation and migration that butterflies teach, because there’s a truth and a challenge that’s now as close as the air we breathe: in our climate-changed world, we cannot be done with our changes.

Cruel summer

Cruel summer

As the heat of the summer continues on and likely becomes more severe next year, as Christians we must remember our command to creation care and reexamine our choices. Climate change isn’t a political issue, it’s a grim reality that is facing us all.

Did Jesus preach about being woke?

Did Jesus preach about being woke?

An image I recently saw on Facebook depicted Jesus preaching to the crowds, with the phrase boldly proclaiming: “Being ‘woke’ is literally what Jesus preached about his entire life.” Is that accurate? “Woke” wasn’t in use the way it is today when Jesus preached, but would the core of his message qualify as being “woke” as we understand it today?

Our backstories tell the whole story

Our backstories tell the whole story

Discover your own backstory because it will permit you to empathize with others’ backstories. Take time to share your backstory with others, always being mindful to allow time for them to also share theirs.

It was in the clearing: hush harbors and soul freedom, past and present

It was in the clearing: hush harbors and soul freedom, past and present

Hush harbors were the secret meeting places of enslaved Africans in which our identity and humanity were affirmed. What our ancestors started in the hush harbors unfortunately must live on today, so that those of us who have been pushed to the margins can find peace, acceptance, belonging, and gain clarity about the journey ahead.

On summer travel

On summer travel

What is it precisely we learn through travel? What’s uniquely different about going to, or having been to, other places, as compared to simply reading about them in books or watching slideshows about them (or in the new media era, reviewing Facebook posts about them)?

Living beyond categories

Living beyond categories

Human issues of race and gender aren’t easy. Christians get them wrong. But they are issues that, for better or for worse, Christianity has a long history of trying to transcend, as we try to say that God loves all people and wants all people to know love in turn.

When God calls

When God calls

If only males are entrusted with the ability to discern God’s call, women are considered “less than” competent regarding matters of the soul. Frankly, a realm where women are considered less than fully competent souls doesn’t sound much like the Kingdom of God to me.

Baptism and coming out: How can these things be?

Baptism and coming out: How can these things be?

Coming out is a process in which LGBTQ+ people take a leap of faith, trusting in what we cannot see ahead. It is not a one-time experience. It is a multi-layered process that transforms us over time, freeing us to live into our belovedness.

Being trans and terrified

Being trans and terrified

Amid a well-financed and organized reign of terror against transgender people in this country, I’m calling on us to embrace Jesus’ radical gospel of inclusion that rejects oppression and celebrates a life-giving and sustaining existence of freedom to be one’s authentic self.

When death interrupts life

When death interrupts life

Death interrupts life in sometimes shockingly abrupt ways and our hearts fall within us. But grace also interrupts the ordinary in extraordinary ways. In such moments we are caught off guard, not expecting the goodness and sorrow that brush past us.

I am left-handed

I am left-handed

When I came out as left-handed, perceptions of left-handedness were just that I used a different hand to write, not that I was damaged or ill in some way. I stood on the shoulders of those who fought for left-handed inclusion and was encouraged simply to navigate and live in a right-handed world, rather than change who I was or live a life of shame.

AWAB and the Black Baptist church

AWAB and the Black Baptist church

Of the nearly 150 Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) churches, only 3 are Black Baptist. What accounts for the underrepresentation of Black Baptist churches within AWAB, and how can AWAB address this?

Not in friendly cooperation: The SBC and me

Not in friendly cooperation: The SBC and me

With the expulsion of Fern Creek Baptist and Saddleback Church, labeled as not fit for “friendly cooperation,” I’m confident that I don’t need to be in friendly cooperation with the Southern Baptist Convention or those that would suppress a woman’s call to preach and pastor.

Go forward! Only thing to do!

Go forward! Only thing to do!

None of us are quite the same after the last several years of life on planet Earth. We don’t know what’s ahead. But we can trust that God will journey with us as we “go forward!” It’s the only thing to do.

Settlers and sojourners

Settlers and sojourners

Wherever we find ourselves to be, together as settlers, refugees, and sojourners, we can become contributing members and citizens of our new home.

Still okay?

Still okay?

Many negative references remain in our common discourse about race, gender identity, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, religious practice, and a host of other categories of human experience. The difference is, when used in public forums, the transgressor will be fired or politically maligned or cancelled or publicly shamed for using them. In contrast, commentators, politicians, preachers, and celebrities of all kinds can pepper their conversation with pejorative references to those who live with mental illness without consequence.

Grief by way of graphic novel

Grief by way of graphic novel

Earlier this year, a dear friend died suddenly and unexpectedly. Since then, my days and weeks have been filtered through those times when little things catch me off guard: a now defunct phone number I cannot bear to delete, a book I think to recommend to him before I sigh with lament when I remember that I no longer can. Little stuff that points to the loss that lingers. The new graphic novel Ephemera: A Memoir by Briana Loewinsohn has provided some comfort.

From the editor: This week in The Christian Citizen

From the editor: This week in The Christian Citizen

In this week’s newsletter, we featured a recent article in The Christian Science Monitor that examines how ministers in Middletown, Ohio are working to bridge political and cultural divides and help rebuild community. It’s a wonderful example of what building social connection looks like in action, one that could be replicated in other communities across the country.

Why is my library beginning to feel like a church?

Why is my library beginning to feel like a church?

Everyone is welcome at my local library. It’s beginning to feel like mission and ministry to me. My library is beginning to feel like church, and along the way meeting the human need for community. Yet what might the church have to offer to overcome loneliness that my library does not?

AWAB, a story of commitment

AWAB, a story of commitment

Born out of 20 years of advocacy by American Baptists Concerned for full LGBTQ+ inclusion in Baptist church life, the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists (AWAB) was formed in 1993 to not only advocate for the individuals of the LGBTQ+ community, but also for the churches who welcomed them.

No bull! Hypocrisy and true religion

No bull! Hypocrisy and true religion

From the Psalms, from the prophets, from non-canonical sources, and from Jesus we learn what God values most. What matters is justice, mercy, and faith. What counts is the steadfast love of God and actively doing something to help those in need. That is true religion.

Speculative Sunday

Speculative Sunday

Reading speculative fiction in communities of faith can enliven the social imaginaries of such communities to expand the scope of the “as if” they are willing to hope for, believe in, trust. To have faith.

Nonverbal proclamations of faith

Nonverbal proclamations of faith

If God’s love and promise of new life in Jesus Christ is for everyone, then the affirmation of that love must be universal, no exceptions. However, how we profess faith may look different for each unique person. May all of us recognize the grace of God and be challenged on our assumptions of theology and disability. This is the way.

Singing again–in a new language

Singing again–in a new language

Like many in church choirs that have resumed, I’ve rediscovered the joy of singing with other people through a local German choir. Singing together builds relationships. Some of these people have sung together for decades, and their friendships have lasted equally long.

God’s garden: Foraging as spiritual practice

God’s garden: Foraging as spiritual practice

Foraging invites us into a relationship of gift to gift, abundance to abundance. In theological terms, foraging invites us to move from dominion to stewardship, and from stewardship to relationship and reciprocity. For in the end this world is God’s garden, and it is a gift and a grace—and a delicious taste—just to be a part of it.

Do you see me? Seeing Asian American Pacific Islander people

Do you see me? Seeing Asian American Pacific Islander people

National denominational conventions are opportunities to see each other in the flesh and to break down myths, stereotypes, and perhaps our fears of the other. When you see me, I hope that you will not just see me as Don Ng but also see me as an Asian American Pacific Islander person. I will see you too!

Choosing books

Choosing books

Access to fully stocked libraries and the freedom to self-select books becomes part of an education that allows us to learn how to think. Interfering with that process by attempting to control access or selection is an attack on a fundamental freedom.

Earth element meditation

Earth element meditation

For this Earth Day 2023, I invite you to meditate with me on the earth element, and particularly, to consider what the concept of re-earthing might mean, what re-identifying ourselves with and as earth might mean, in an age in which the earth element faces perhaps unprecedented challenges of ecological upheaval and climate peril.

A view of nature from indoors

A view of nature from indoors

This Earth Day, I’m grateful for the people in my life who love the outdoors more than I do and have given me the chance to experience nature more fully. I’m also grateful to those who were and are committed to preserving the earth for all of us, for its beauty and for the way it sustains us not only physically, but also emotionally and spiritually.

Answering from expansiveness

Answering from expansiveness

Amid the noise and confusion and fear within our public life, we may want to take cover. We may seek out protection. But this narrow place only walls us off from each other just when we need each other. It causes us to narrow our response just when we must broaden it.

What do you do with a revival?

What do you do with a revival?

Amidst the current waves of shootings, earthquakes, train accidents, wars, and balloons, there’s been a rare event, a revival, a movement of the Holy Spirit at Asbury University in Wilmore, Kentucky. What do we do with the revival at Asbury?

I pray for those whose thirst is unquenched

I pray for those whose thirst is unquenched

It is one of my life’s ambitions to become like the woman who brought me and my wife a cup of cold water on a hot day in Providence, Rhode Island. I would cherish the opportunity to quench another’s thirst…either their physical need for a drink of water, their need to be drawn closer to the Divine, or their thirst for justice and righteousness.

Behind every good woman there’s a man

Behind every good woman there’s a man

They used to say “behind every good man there’s a woman,” meaning a wife holding down the home front, or typing the research papers and creating the index for the book. This year for Women’s History Month, I’m thinking about the opposite: “Behind every good woman there’s a man.” Put in a more nuanced way, many women who have an impact have men to support and encourage them along the way. That’s been true for me.

Turn it up!

Turn it up!

Sometimes seizing an opportunity requires taking a chance on someone not having said “no,” but also not having given you permission. Then, be bold in playing your part. You just might excel at something others doubt you can do.

Celebrating Black Women’s History

Celebrating Black Women’s History

Because Sojourner Truth advocated for her rights, we can rightfully claim our places as women. Because Ella Baker was determined to lead by raising others, we are similarly determined in our leadership. Because Dorothy Height was not dissuaded from being herself, we can courageously be our authentic selves. Because of them, we are. Therefore celebrate, my sisters of the African diaspora. Sashay seamlessly from Black History to Women’s History and claim your unique space.

A Psalm for Daylight Savings Time

A Psalm for Daylight Savings Time

Observing Lent and Daylight Saving Time is appropriate. We have lost an hour yet spend an hour (or more) in the regular Sunday service, balancing our weary selves with the higher purposes of Divine Worship.