The Birth of Goodness | Forum for Theological Exploration

The Birth of Goodness

By: Dori Baker
June 19, 2015

They gathered to birth a future. Not just any future, but one they would actually like to inhabit—a future worthy of their life’s investment.

I got to welcome a new life into the world this week. After 30 hours of helping my friend labor, I watched in amazement as a new child was born. Having lost a baby to stillbirth 14 years ago, I witnessed this live birth as a healing deep in my soul.

When one has experienced great loss, new birth is all the more dramatic, miraculous, and earth-shattering.

The birth of my new friend came on the heels of another dramatic event. I had been present a few days earlier as 75 young Christian leaders wondered together why an “active faith matters.” This was FTE’s second Christian Leadership Forum—our theme celebrated the faith-impetus of justice movements over the past fifty years. Young leaders aged 18-35 joined pastors, ministers, scholars and academics to embody an intergenerational, multiracial microcosm of the church across North America. They gathered to birth a future. Not just any future, but one they would actually like to inhabit—a future worthy of their life’s investment.

Most conferences are far from dramatic. What made this forum so was the contrast between great loss and new birth.

When we look at “church” these days, we see great loss. We hear about “the nones”—those masses of Millennials who’ve taken a hike from organized religion despite a spiritual hunger. And I, as one of their elders, empathize. My peers and I know the reasons they’ve walked out: “Church” often looks like buildings and outdated structures that reinforce walls rather than break them down.

We also felt great loss when we saw the breaking news. On the same day and a mere 25 miles from the celebration that closed out our FTE gathering, a different party ended with yet another alarming incident of police brutality against black teenagers. We count enormous loss.

Loss makes these images seem a little more miraculous, dramatic and hope-filled:

  • Contemplative worship at a graffiti wall, where the liturgy was literally “the work of the people” drawing their hopes and dreams of racial justice, the end of poverty, and kin-dom of heaven on earth to the beats of a DJ.
  • A visioning session in which followers of Christ called out the headlines they want to help shape by 2020, including “Income Gap Narrowing,” “Climate Change Reversed,” and “Earth Finally Free of War.”
  • A few moments with United Methodist Bishop Minerva Carcaño in which she reminded us that, “If you imagine a circle of the world’s most vulnerable children, the closer you get to the center of that circle, the closer you are to Jesus.”
  • Geographical clusters who named next steps such as: a gathering in Seattle to bring together “all these cool Christians doing interesting stuff in their basements, so we can see each other, and see that ministry doesn’t look like dying churches,”; a gathering in DC to “motivate more young leaders to go outside the norms,”; and a dinner in Atlanta where “ecumenical and multi-racial partners can seek connections between theology and issues in their neighborhoods.”

We were only together for 72 hours. But something was born. It was the birth of a small but growing goodness, connecting faithful people to a hurting world, one act of God’s justice at a time.

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Tags...: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud

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