A Little History… | Sojourners

A Little History…

Once upon a time--about 10 years ago--a magazine was born in the house of the Jolly Green Giant. The magazine had been an unhatched idea in the heads of a handful of people almost a year before.

They were students who had met at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in an area of Deerfield, Illinois, called Bannockburn, in the fall of 1970. They gathered almost every night in one of their dormitory rooms to pray and study, and to discuss the relationship of their faith to political issues, particularly the Vietnam War. It was an intense and formative time of forging a theology that addressed their historical situation. Out of those times came a deep closeness and common vision.

On weekends they often continued their discussions at Bill's Pub, where the peanuts were free and the beer two dollars a pitcher. These were not your ordinary pub patrons: One evening the waitress discovered them all bowed in intense prayer, hands locked across their table, and she couldn't figure out where to put the pitcher.

If the crew didn't blend into the woodwork at Bill's, it was becoming increasingly clear to many at the seminary that they didn't quite fit there either.

In October, the group circulated a leaflet, described as both "a commentary on the times from the view of the gospel" and a "manifesto of radical Christianity." Jim Wallis drafted it late one night while working a night watchman job in a local high school. The first reading of it to the group is remembered as a gripping and landmark time. The "Bannockburn 7" had gone public.

They continued to write and circulate antiwar leaflets. They also organized a free university, a forum which drew a hundred students who were interested in discussion of a variety of social and political issues. They even once did a sit-in at the seminary's administration building.

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