THE NIGHT ED SPIVEY JR. first came to our Sojourners community house in Chicago, he made me laugh. He still does, more than anybody else I have ever known. But it was also evident how serious he was about his faith and its meaning for his life. Ed was raised as a Southern Baptist, and he told us a funny story of how his Baptist pastor in Chicago wanted his congregants to wear a button to work that said, “I’m Excited!” When people ask why, you were supposed to say, “I’m excited about Jesus.” But Ed was in his first job after college—as art director of the Chicago Sun-Times Sunday magazine, where he was the youngest hire in the newsroom—and he was reluctant, to say the least. While he found the button idea tacky, it was clear that he was excited about following Jesus wherever that road would lead.
That’s what we talked about at our first dinner together. Some of us were still seminary students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and we had just started a new publication called The Post-American, forerunner to Sojourners. None of us had ever done a publication before, or much writing beyond leaflets and school papers. Our art director was both temporary and part-time, and we would often wait weeks before our articles were laid out for printing. It took us by surprise when, at that first dinner, Ed said that he felt a strong calling from God to join us. “I am ready to quit my job at the Sun-Times, move in with all of you, and give my life to this.” Ed’s announcement called to mind the scripture we were then reading about how the earliest disciples acted when they heard a call from Jesus.