"Sharing the Sojourn," as a distinctive section of Sojourners magazine, begins its second year with this issue. In several recent reader surveys, we have received much positive feedback on this community-building dimension of Sojourners. We thank you and pledge ourselves to continue to help in that ever-challenging task of discipleship in and through community. Now as 1-year-olds we believe it's time to report some of what we have learned since beginning "Sharing the Sojourn."
One overriding lesson emerging from the experience has to do with our objective. We cannot affirm enough that the purpose of this magazine section and the networking we do through it comes down to serving faith communitiesof all types and configurations, ecumenically or within a denomination. There is no intent to set up "sojourners-like" communities unless that is the wish of those involved.
We need to be very clear on this point. In a survey done of Sojourners readers by an independent sociologist, 45 percent of the respondents stated that they either had tried or were trying community. These groups range from Bible study circles, to parish- or congregation-connected gatherings, to discussion clubs, and so on. They are "sojourners-like" only in that they find inspiration - we hope - in Sojourners Community, magazine, and activities.
Another lesson we've learned through "Sharing the Sojourn" has to do with other services we might offer to communities. Readers have suggested that we provide workshops on starting a community, leadership training sessions, as well as more written materials on the ins and outs of community. We are grateful for such constructive suggestions. However, our choices at Sojourners often simply come down to person hours. There are always many more things to be done than people to do them. Nevertheless, we do hear the call to serve more directly and with more variety, and we will seek ways to answer.
The format of this section of the magazine is also being reviewed now at year's end. "Sharing the Sojourn" contains more information per page than other parts of the magazine. In our jargon that makes the section very "busy" - not usually a good thing in publications like ours.
Still, the function of "Sharing the Sojourn" as that place in each issue of the magazine where communities or those in search of community can find a wide variety of useful information inclines us toward keeping the "busyness" as is. Our art director, Ed Spivey Jr., has taken on the task of making the section as "reader friendly" as possible. Look for modifications beginning next month.
Finally, a word about the creation of communities as a direct result of the "Sharing the Sojourn" program. More than 900 readers have taken the trouble to return the coupon from these pages for information on how to start a community. They subsequently tell us that geographical distance from others wishing to form community stands as the chief obstacle to doing so. We can only hope that, in time, more sojourners around the country will take up the challenge of connecting with one another and the distance between them will lessen.
In the meantime, to return to our first point, we believe that community is found and nurtured wherever two or three gather. The Lord surely offers us the grace and light needed to make community that place where one is as comfortable and as challenged as if he or she were conversing with the Creator. This remains our constant objective as we begin our second year of sharing the sojourn together.