On Ash Wednesday, 2018, a group of elders met for a retreat together because of a national political crisis which was also revealing a crisis of faith. Later that year, the elders issued a declaration called Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis, to which more than 5 million responded. However, the moral and political crisis the Reclaiming Jesus declaration responded to has become even deeper and more dangerous. So now we look toward Ash Wednesday, 2019.
The elders of the Reclaiming Jesus declaration have issued another statement, calling on Christians across the United States to use the upcoming Lenten season for “fasting, humility, and repentance” in light of the ongoing crises that face the United States. The elders cited the “unconscionable government shutdown,” the threat of “deportation and family separation,” and the fearful and hateful “racial divisiveness” that persists in America as reasons for mourning and collective repentance. With these injustices in mind, the elders urge Christians everywhere to “apply Lenten spiritual practices to our lives and to the dangers facing our democracy.”
The Reclaiming Jesus elders have called for “national prayer and fasting” to begin on March 6th, Ash Wednesday, and to continue throughout the season of Lent. The elders pray that these practices would foster “solidarity with the most vulnerable,” “spiritual vigilance,” and “availability” to respond to crises they see coming in 2019, where executive overreach that threatens our constitutional checks and balances and the rule of law could compound the crises that are ongoing for immigrants, families of color and our most vulnerable people.
Jim Wallis, the President of Sojourners, reiterated the elders’ invitation, saying “the Lenten season calls us to acknowledge and repent of the sin within ourselves and in our world. During Lent, Christians all over the country should use prayer and fasting not merely for personal transformation, but also to reaffirm our commitment to justice for vulnerable and marginalized people in this country and around the world amid the ongoing crises in our politics. We should also use this time to ask God to spiritually prepare us to faithfully respond to the national crises we see ahead.”
The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, also echoed the elders’ statement, saying that “Lent is a season of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is fitting and appropriate that at this time in our life as a nation we stop, pause, pray, and fast for our nation; that we may live together in the ways of love, of justice, of compassion. And, may we reflect on the deepest ideals and fondest hopes of this nation and the world.”
In summarizing their goals for the season of repentance, the elders hoped that Christians would “remain steadfast in their faith and engage with the deepening challenges our nation faces.”
Jim Wallis is available for interview.
The entirety of the Reclaiming Jesus elders’ call can be found at