terrorist shooting in San Bernadino, CA.

"> Leading with Love in the Wake of Islamophobia | Forum for Theological Exploration Set the Prisoners Free | Forum for Theological Exploration What’s Your New Year’s Resolution? | Forum for Theological Exploration The Hope of Now | Forum for Theological Exploration Trusting Brown Hands | Forum for Theological Exploration God Beyond Borders | Forum for Theological Exploration More Questions Than Answers | Forum for Theological Exploration Reflections on three years with CMTEV | Forum for Theological Exploration Theological Education, Diversity, and a Transformative Future | Forum for Theological Exploration Benefits of a Vocational Friendship | Forum for Theological Exploration FTE’s Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant; The grant was such a tremendous blessing as it enabled me to develop relationships with women that have utilized their experience and/or understanding of grief in their respective ministries.

"> Affirmations of Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Ferguson & Faith: Sparking Leadership and Awakening Community, Dr. Leah Gunning Francis discusses the significance of her work for faith communities and emerging Christian leaders.

"> Seven Questions with Leah Gunning Francis, Author of “Ferguson & Faith” | Forum for Theological Exploration A Reflection on My Ministry Exploration and Mentoring Grant Experience | Forum for Theological Exploration The Sublime Power of Belief | Forum for Theological Exploration Theological Education After Ferguson and Long Island and Baltimore and Charleston and…. | Forum for Theological Exploration The Ministry of Surrender | Forum for Theological Exploration The Stillness | Forum for Theological Exploration Racism: The Most Sinful of Legacies | Forum for Theological Exploration What Is Thy Name | Forum for Theological Exploration Active Faith is Urgent | Forum for Theological Exploration The Birth of Goodness | Forum for Theological Exploration Re-Arranged by the Spirit | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation in Between the Aftermath of Violence and a Hoped-for Future | Forum for Theological Exploration To Follow a Call | Forum for Theological Exploration Where Two or Three Are Gathered | Forum for Theological Exploration Tooth Fairy | Forum for Theological Exploration Marking Vocational Transitions Faithfully | Forum for Theological Exploration Mission Year to attend FTE’s Discernment Retreat in Lake Arrowhead, California.

"> Our Becoming | Forum for Theological Exploration Falling Deeper Into My Calling | Forum for Theological Exploration Let the Streets Inspire You | Forum for Theological Exploration Whose Name is on the Invitation? | Forum for Theological Exploration The Feeble Art of Radical Hospitality | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God in the Rabbit Trail | Forum for Theological Exploration What is Worship to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration A Resolution for Religion | Forum for Theological Exploration Sacred Cows at the Lord’s Table | Forum for Theological Exploration I am a Pile of Trash | Forum for Theological Exploration The Church Knows Something | Forum for Theological Exploration Critical Feeling | Forum for Theological Exploration “Do you not perceive it?” Isaiah 43:19 | Forum for Theological Exploration Buddy Crossed the Line | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries Shaping the Future | Forum for Theological Exploration Teaching Theology after Ferguson | Forum for Theological Exploration Imagination Next | Forum for Theological Exploration If it was a Snake ... | Forum for Theological Exploration The Power to Reshape Brokenness | Forum for Theological Exploration Campus Ministries that Stick | Forum for Theological Exploration How to Harness the Awkward Pause | Forum for Theological Exploration 2015 FTE Doctoral Fellowships. This is an appropriate moment to reflect briefly on why we do the work of supporting rising theological educators of color.

"> Why We Do This | Forum for Theological Exploration In Praise of Small Spaces | Forum for Theological Exploration Culture Shock | Forum for Theological Exploration Can We Keep Our Promises? | Forum for Theological Exploration An Opportunity to Re-Engage not Remake the Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Living Stream Church of the Brethren.

"> Innovative Ministries: Stepping outside my box | Forum for Theological Exploration Attentiveness and Practices in Christian Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Conducting My Beautiful, Cacophonous Clone Choir | Forum for Theological Exploration Can you Repack That? | Forum for Theological Exploration An Open Reflection to My Younger Self | Forum for Theological Exploration A Christian Take on Mindfulness | Forum for Theological Exploration The Building of Community in Unlikely Places | Forum for Theological Exploration Compensation for Being | Forum for Theological Exploration Transitioning-into-Ministry (TiM) Participants Gathering. The first year I thought it was a fluke. The second year I was looking for it. This year, I was expecting it. What was is “it”? The power of a room.

"> The Power of a Room | Forum for Theological Exploration Listen Closely | Forum for Theological Exploration Communication as an Art | Forum for Theological Exploration Celebrating a Birthday or Celebrating the Birth of an Idea | Forum for Theological Exploration Shhhhhhhh! | Forum for Theological Exploration Do We Know Enough About Other Religions? | Forum for Theological Exploration My Time At the FTE Vocational Discernment Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Is the Institutional Church Worth Saving? | Forum for Theological Exploration A Muddy Epiphany | Forum for Theological Exploration In Search of Community | Forum for Theological Exploration Prayers on the Wind | Forum for Theological Exploration Live the Questions | Forum for Theological Exploration Ask a Millennial Why They Stay | Forum for Theological Exploration Afterlife Chat at Midnight | Forum for Theological Exploration Vocation and Inspiration | Forum for Theological Exploration On Mountains and Empty Spaces | Forum for Theological Exploration What a Vocational Calling to Ministry Means to Me | Forum for Theological Exploration The Anti-Tourism of Meditation | Forum for Theological Exploration When Lions Have Historians | Forum for Theological Exploration Five New Features on fteleaders.org | Forum for Theological Exploration Seeking the Kingdom—and Finding It | Forum for Theological Exploration Darśan: Seeing the Divine Image in India before spending a semester together in India.

She has the monumental task of training 13 Americans to see differently while in India…

"> Sacred Optometry: Opening my Eyes in India | Forum for Theological Exploration Faith and Leadership, Nathan Kirkpatrick has been talking for years about over-investing in young people and the importance of giving the youngest generation a shot at not only Christian formation but also Christian ministry. But what does “over-investing” look like?

"> A New Year’s Resolution for Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Inside FTE’s New Name | Forum for Theological Exploration Cultivating Quality Leadership for a Sustainable Church | Forum for Theological Exploration Single-Leader-Centered vs Group-Centered Leadership | Forum for Theological Exploration Leadership Capacities Every Young Pastor Must Learn | Forum for Theological Exploration Freedom to Flunk | Forum for Theological Exploration National Festival of Young Preachers. Originally published on The Huffington Post.

Let us take a moment to look at what Hebrew Scripture teaches about Sabbath. In Exodus, the longest of the 10 commandments says that we should do all our work in six days but on the seventh we should not do any work, nor should we allow anyone else to work—not our children, not those who serve us, not the resident aliens, not even our livestock and animals. (Exodus 20: 8-11) Everybody gets a day off.

Our scriptures understand it. Our story tells it. But do we imbibe it? Do we speak the language of Sabbath?

"> There is No Rest | Forum for Theological Exploration A Musical Ministry | Forum for Theological Exploration Reflections on the Samuel Dewitt Proctor Conference | Forum for Theological Exploration Volunteers Update from Nashville | Forum for Theological Exploration Love and Imperfection | Forum for Theological Exploration Here Comes a Happy Minister | Forum for Theological Exploration Turn, Turn, Turn | Forum for Theological Exploration Ashes to Ashes | Forum for Theological Exploration Finding God and Health In The Experience of Storytelling | Forum for Theological Exploration Come Saturday Morning | Forum for Theological Exploration Stumbling Into the Digital Reformation | Forum for Theological Exploration

Leading with Love in the Wake of Islamophobia

By: Dori Baker
February 12, 2016

The clergy reminded us that our neighbors are people who look, think, act, believe or worship differently than us. We can love them for the very differences they carry in their bodies, minds, life experiences, spirits and the ways those differences enrich us all.

I live in the town of Lynchburg, Virginia. Lynchburg is home to Liberty University. It is also home to an iconic piece of public art – a huge red “LOVE” sculpture, welcoming walkers, bikers and skateboarders to our town’s riverside trail.

Liberty University has been in the national spotlight twice recently. First, the college’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr. urged a room full of undergraduates to carry concealed guns and spoke derogatorily of “those Muslims” two days after the terrorist shooting in San Bernadino, CA.

Next, that same college president stood by his decision to host Donald Trump as the featured speaker on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, despite student objections that Trump seems antagonistic to Dr. King’s cause.

In a response to Falwell’s handgun endorsement and anti-Muslim sentiment, area interfaith clergy stepped up to lead differently. They decided to lead with love. They bought an advertisement in the local newspaper celebrating the history of cooperation across Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other religious traditions in the region. They reminded readers “we are commanded by various sacred texts to love our neighbors as ourselves.”

The clergy reminded us that our neighbors are people who look, think, act, believe or worship differently than us. We can love them for the very differences they carry in their bodies, minds, life experiences, spirits and the ways those differences enrich us all.

After the second controversy, a group of Liberty students stepped up to lead differently. They launched a protest showing that not everyone at Liberty agrees with Falwell’s interpretations of King’s legacy, the Bible, or contemporary politics.

In Lynchburg, the rabbi and imam come to a monthly lunch with Christian clergy. We’ve been sharing stories, visiting one another’s homes and houses of worship, and collaborating on public rituals of grief and hope for more than a decade. Our children go to camp together: love blossoms in these kinds of spaces.

A clergy letter in a newspaper advertisement is a quiet, almost inaudible action these days. It circulated on Facebook. My mother-in-law read it to her Sunday school class. It showed up in a few classrooms and other public places. It was more like a whisper than a shout, given the realities of who holds the megaphone.

But leading with love in small quiet spaces is a viable option. It represents an alternative reality, one that can seed a future filled with hope, instead of more violence, more lines of exclusion.

When Martin Luther King spoke of an “inescapable web of mutuality” his metaphor was a particularly apt one. Webs are fragile, easily broken, ephemeral tools that also hold amazing strength and integrity. Maybe, if Christians inspire one another to continue to lead with love, we can be part of weaving a web made of whispers that grows in strength as it’s shared in ever-widening circles.

If leading with love is more like a whisper than a shout, it may mean hosting a book group on the church’s role in improving race relations or starting a multi-faith lunch group that will take ten years to bear fruit. Or reading about Thomas Merton’s immersion into Buddhism, so you can feel strengthened in your own desire to learn outside of your comfort zone. However it is you lead with love, know that such leading is part of the slow but courageous work of redefining, rebuilding, and reclaiming Christ’s way for the world we inhabit today.​

Photo: Jill Nance

Tags: Thinking Out Loud


Blog comments powered by Disqus