Sojourners' 16 Most Powerful Stories of 2016 | Sojourners

Sojourners' 16 Most Powerful Stories of 2016

Editors' Note: 2016, y'all. 

We at Sojourners are committed to reporting on and uncovering the stories of faith and justice in our times — raising up the voices that are too often overlooked, and providing biblical and faith-rooted sustenance and inspiration for the journey. Compiled here are some of our most powerful stories from the year — ones that provided a unique, critical, and faithful lens to some of the biggest stories of the year.

While many are glad to see this year go, we know that what awaits in 2017 will require our journalistic work, our vigilance, our organizing, and our resilience. (And we hope you'll join with us in that work: Consider giving to Sojourners to help us tell more of these stories.)

In no particular order, here are our editors’ top picks from 2016.

1. Evangelicals:’ You Keep Using that Word
by Jim Wallis, and
These Evangelicals Have Long Spoken Out Against Trump. No One Was Listening.
by Nish Weiseth

It was a big story this year: White evangelicals overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump, as predicted by many polls and pundits in the days leading up to Nov. 8. But there was, and is, a issue with the media simply using the term “evangelicals.” 

2. Dr. Larycia Hawkins on the Inquisition at Wheaton and Why She Wants to Stay
by Sandi Villarreal, Web Editor & Chief Digital Officer

‘Doc Hawk’ did end up leaving Wheaton College in early 2016 after a much-publicized disagreement with the administration over her standing in solidarity with Muslims. Sojourners interviewed Hawkins in the midst of the controversy.

3. The Era of White Anxiety Is Just Beginning
by Catherine Woodiwiss, Senior Associate Web Editor

While many were citing the imminent demographic changes that would ensure a burgeoning age of tolerance and community, one researcher was warning against that kind of naiveté — an observation that played out months later as we watched the election results roll in.

4. To My Beautiful Queer Family
by Joey Longley

On a Sunday morning in June, the country was rocked by one of the most deadly mass shootings in the nation’s history — this time at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla. Targeted: the LGBTQ community. This reflection penned in the days after the tragedy spoke powerfully to our LGBTQ family in Christ.

5. Building Empathy for Syrian Refugees Through Virtual Reality. And Pokémon. 
by Rishika Pardikar, Sojourners contributor

The collective global grief over the crisis in Syria came throughout the year, troublingly, in fits and starts. Peaks of outrage were typically spurred by photography — Aylan Kurdi, Omran Daqneesh, the “goodbye” videos filmed by residents in Aleppo. But what if we were able to harness multimedia technology to maintain the world’s attention on one of the most devastating massacres in recent history?

6. 4 Things ‘Lemonade’ Teaches Us About Black Womanhood 
by Courtney Hall Lee, Sojourners contributor

If we were making a list of best things about 2016, Lemonade would be up at the top. Here, Sojourners contributor Courtney Hall Lee unpacks the album’s takes on love, family, and womanist theology.

7. The Toast’s Mallory Ortberg on Death, Faith, and Why It’s So Easy to Make Fun of Christians 
by Catherine Woodiwiss, Senior Associate Web Editor

Our favorite witty comedy site The Toast ended its fantastic run in 2016. In April, co-editor of the site Mallory Ortberg sat down to chat family, faith, and writing with Sojourners’ Catherine Woodiwiss. A Bible word-association game was maybe involved.

8. 7 Reasons Men Should Not Be Pastors
by JP Keenan, Multimedia Editor

This went viral for a reason. 

9. I Will Bear Witness, Though Heavy Laden
by Yolanda Pierce

In the midst of protests, outcry, and reporting on police shootings of black men and women this year, Dr. Yolanda Pierce offered a searing personal essay — of witnessing a young black man pulled over by cops, and of the accumulated burdens of life under racism. 

10. The Military Force at Standing Rock Should Make Us Angry, but It Shouldn’t Surprise Us
by M.T. Dávila and Tobia Winright, Sojourners magazine contributing writer

Sojourners followed the protests at Standing Rock throughout 2016. We celebrated along with the small victories as we chronicled the environmental — and psychological and physical — injustices inflicted upon our Native brothers and sisters. But while many were outraged at the use of physical force, one contributing writer reminded us that there is nothing new under the sun.

11. Who Owns a Pastor’s Body?
by Layton Williams, Audience Engagement Associate

We live in a collective church society that still hasn’t normalized female leadership. While some denominations have long ordained women — and many more recently — women pastors still must navigate some unique challenges.

12. The Baylor Crisis Isn’t About Football. It’s About Women’s Lives.
by Sandi Villarreal, Web Editor & Chief Digital Officer

Baylor University is the largest Baptist university in the world. In the middle of Texas, deep within a love of God and football, a rape crisis emerged that shocked some unfamiliar with the epidemic of sexual assault on college campuses. What was even more shocking was the ways in which the school seemingly elevated its athletic program over the lives of women.

13. InterVarsity’s Line in the Sand on LGBTQ Inclusion
by Lisa Sharon Harper, Chief Church Engagement Officer

In October, it was revealed that InterVarsity Christian Fellowship had made the decision — years earlier — to ask LGBTQ-affirming staff to volunteer to leave the organization, with a Nov. 11 deadline. Here, Sojourners’ Lisa Sharon Harper chronicles the years-long process, its theological underpinnings, and the fallout.

14. Stop Telling Me to Fight 
by Da’Shawn Mosley, Online Assistant

In the wake of election 2016, it’s seemingly easy for white people, even white progressives, to normalize, to dust themselves off — because the ripple effects don’t hit them. For folks in our office, this was required reading. It should be for everyone.

15. Your Post-Election Stories

In the days following the election of Donald Trump, we opened up the Sojourners platform to you, our readers. We wanted to know what you were feeling — and how you were organizing into action. We were blown away at the response and compiled nearly 100 stories of lament and of hope.

16. A Letter to My Trump-Voting Family
by JP Keenan, Multimedia Editor

One of the most painful takeaways from the election for many Christians was the fact that 81 percent of evangelicals supported Trump. While some young Christians have abandoned the label of evangelical — for many reasons, but that statistic provides a one major explanation — a lot of their friends and families are part of that 81 percent. Here, a lament, and a charge.

Want more? Here are two of our favorites from Sojourners magazine this year. Read now from behind the paywall, and subscribe here for a whole year of the magazine.

My Neighborhood Is Killing Me 
From Flint, Mich., to Standing Rock, N.D., questions of environmental justice, racial justice, and care for creation were inextricably linked this year. This interview with Aaron Mair, the first black president of the Sierra Club, gets at how deep and far we need to be thinking when it comes to climate justice. 

Game Changer?
Around the world, Catholics are becoming a church committed to peace and nonviolence. And the Vatican is listening.