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Gratitude is the best gift for the holidays.
Many people of faith want to follow the imperatives of Scripture, to care for the poor and marginalized, to work against systems of oppression and to build up generosity, rather than wealth. And the needs of the world and of our neighbors are more urgent than ever.
Here at Sojourners, we are excited to share that Rev. Adam Taylor has returned to the organization to serve as Executive Director. Both Adam and Sojourners Founder Jim Wallis shared some reflections on this transition in a recent columnwelcoming Adam back, and we also wanted Adam to offer a few words with you, our beloved community of supporters.
For all of us at Sojourners, there are no words to adequately express our gratitude for this fellow Sojourner. He walked with us, prayed with us, laughed with (and at) us, and generously supported our mission. He shared with us everything he had, especially the treasure of time. We thank God for granting us the privilege of sojourning alongside our brother in Christ. We also give gratitude for his partner and caring wife Barbara Besse. We surround her and her children with prayers of comfort, peace, celebration of a life well-lived, and space to grieve the loss of Alden’s presence on earth.
As one who enjoys the benefits of privilege in today's world, I felt it important to submit my own sense of what is just and right to other perspectives, especially other perspectives that are informed by biblical witness and the Christian gospel. The 2017 Summit represented that sort of challenge for me.
Gratitude, say religious leaders from many traditions, is one of the most important spiritual disciplines for a whole and healing life. And the discipline of remembering what and who you are most grateful for is especially important in difficult and even dangerous times like these. There are gratitude prayers, meditations, and walks, which focus our minds and hearts on the things and people we are most thankful for when we are most easily conscious of the things and people who make our times most difficult and even dangerous.
Editor’s Note: The Summit: World Change Through Faith and Justice is one of the powerful opportunities Sojourners has as an organization to bring together 300+ of our leaders together to deepen relationships and build more intersectional movements. The following series of posts offer reflections from participants to offer a glimpse of the experience. We are grateful for the ways you make this gathering possible. Our first reflection comes from JoAnn Flett, director of Eastern University's MBA in Economic Development and the facilitator the Summit’s 2017 Business Convening.
There is change for racial justice and equity in the air in Boston, to an extent that I previously only hoped for but could not heretofore have envisioned. And as I look ahead to attending Sojourners’ upcoming leadership Summit, which focuses on the intersections and implications of race across numerous justice issues, I expect and pray for change to be in the air in D.C., and that the same winds may fill our sails in June.
Editor’s Note: We’ve had the privilege of connecting with many members of the broader Sojourners community (including some of you reading this!) during Sojourners President Jim Wallis’ America’s Original Sin book and town hall tour. Our conversations in cities like New York, Baltimore, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Portland are serving as a tool to engage people – particularly people of faith and white people — more robustly on issues of white privilege, race relations, criminal justice reform, and inequalities work. The conversations have already been so rich and we wanted to capture a few reflections from those we see on the road to share with you all. The following reflection is from Alicia Philipp, CEO of the Community Foundation of Greater Atlanta, who we met up with at the Atlanta History Center gathering alongside 70 of CFGA’s donors and board members.
Hollywood star Denzel Washington, the son of a pastor, preached a sermon of gratefulness Nov. 7 to hundreds of members of the Church of God in Christ at their annual Holy Congregation in downtown St. Louis.
“I pray that you put your slippers way under your bed at night, so that when you wake in the morning you have to start on your knees to find them. And while you’re down there, say thank you,” he told the crowd at a $200-a-plate banquet at the Marriott St. Louis Grand Hotel to raise money for the denomination’s charity work.
“It is impossible to be grateful and hateful at the same time,” he said.
“We have to have an attitude of gratitude.”