As progressive Christians, I think we can all agree that the way we have been doing church over the last 2000 years, in some ways, might be counter to what Jesus had demonstrated in His ministry. I think we can agree that the Church as an institution has oppressed and marginalized LGBTQIA+ individuals, people of color, women, children, people with disabilities and people with mental health issues. I think we can all agree that it’s time we did church differently so we can affirm those that have been marginalized so they can live life fully.
As a progressive Christian faith leader, I’m thankful for networks such as W/ that connect me with other like-minded faith leaders so we can support each other and encourage one another in our ministries as we work to undo the harm of conservative religious doctrine.
In my ministry on staff at a multi-ethnic and LGBTQIA+ affirming church we worked to do just that. But somewhere along the way I discovered that the way I was doing ministry was still oppressive and it still did not serve the marginalized in our community. You might say that I was serving new wine in old wine skins, and so not everyone was receiving a liberating message that would help them flourish.
I happened upon the Newbigin House of Studies and found the new wine skins that I didn’t know I was looking for. I embarked on a nine-month journey of spiritual, theological and personal development as a Newbigin Ministry Fellow. In my diverse cohort, I met individuals from churches of different denominations, from varying backgrounds, orientations and ethnic identities, some were more progressive or more conservative than others. In this space, I had to learn to hold space respectfully for people who thought differently than me. I also learned to articulate my convictions with grace.
It was this richly diverse group that became my learning community for the next nine months. There were women and men, Queer, Black, Latinx, White, East Asian and European. I am not a stranger to being the only minority in the room, but as I looked around the room, I saw that everyone else was in a space where they too were the “other” because it was so diverse. It made for lots of uncomfortable conversation! It also helped me build compassion for us all working so hard in our ministries towards expressing a more just and loving God. The experience taught me to both speak up and listen, and it expanded my faith. With a broadened view of God shaped by the many, many readings, discussions and conversations I had during my fellowship, I can now minister to my community offering more than just old wine Christianity in old wine skins.
Newbigin House of Studies has decided to partner with us this year as a Collective Sponsor. Our 2019/2020 season of events is made possible by their partnership. It’s exciting because their well-curated program offers a diverse theological education and spiritual and personal development within a diverse cohort of fellow pastors (and a separate cohort for lay people), and it perfectly aligns with our values and goals as a collective. The curriculum offered is accessible to people who are well versed in theology as well as those who are new to these conversations. It challenges both those who have been leading congregations for several years, and those who are serving in ministries of their home churches. We encourage you to consider forming a regional cohort of fellows in your area or sponsor a fellow within your church leaders (as W/ partner, Denver Community Church has done). W/ will also be promoting two scholarships to support potential Newbigin fellows for the 2020/2021 program year (more details on this will be announced this fall!) Join us in Charlotte this November to hear from Newbigin’s own Peter Choi and learn all about what this amazing partnership can do for your faith.
After serving with W/ partner Forefront Brooklyn for the past five years, Mira has embarked on a new journey pursuing her MDiv in Washington DC where she resides with her husband and three children. In her free time (what’s that?) she enjoys deep conversation over too much coffee, doing crafts with her children, and playing Capoeira.