WE'VE BEEN TOLD we don’t look a day over 39! Okay, old joke. But we’re acutely aware of the slightly awkward irony of an intentionally countercultural—and counterinstitutional—movement, formed in the ragtag, “don’t trust anyone over 30” culture of the early 1970s, turning 50 years old. Like the Rolling Stones, we’re still hard at it, as we mark five decades since the beginnings of Sojourners. While we’re more structured and stable than back in the early days of the so-called People’s Christian Coalition (which, not surprisingly, published many raised fists in our first few issues), we’re still doing our best to speak truth to power, afflict the comfortable, and all that. Our outward appearance may have evolved over the years, but our mission—our first principles—are unchanged from day one.
The photos below focus on the people who launched The Post-American in 1971 and helped it to thrive and grow after our 1976 move to Washington, D.C., where it became Sojourners magazine. The publication was started by students at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., north of Chicago—students who were convinced that much of the church, and the evangelical part of it in particular, was wrong in its support of the Vietnam War, wrong in its approach to racism and racial justice, and at best inadequate in its awareness that the gospel calls disciples of Jesus Christ to be agents of change in our fallen world.
As you’ll see in these photos, community, worship, and public actions for social justice were all part of the job description for those who put out the magazine—there was little separation between magazine work and our socially engaged life together in Christian community. After 50 years, we’re still strong believers in an integrated life of faith and social justice, and we try to tell that story in every issue of Sojourners. We hope you enjoy this look back at our earliest roots.