beloved community

Layton E. Williams 10-18-2016

Image via Montreat Conference Center.

“Beloved Community” is a term first coined by American philosopher Josiah Royce in the early 20th century, later popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in reference to his goal of communal justice. It has since become a popular phrase in progressive faith circles, emphasizing radical inclusion fully liberated from the prejudices and discriminations of this broken world. Often, churches describe the work of justice as “building the Beloved Community.”

Citing both her Unitarian Universalist tradition and her upbringing as a child of a white Mormon mother and black academic father, Harris-Perry said, “I believe in a God that wants me to ask a lot of questions.” 

The Editors 07-10-2015
PicMonkey Collage.jpg

Collage Created via Pic Money

Four August culture recommendations from our editors.

The Editors 06-08-2015
Image via tovovan/

Image via tovovan/

It’s hard to overlook the peppy pink pig who appeared on the cover of our June issue, but maybe you missed the lyrical beauty of Senior Associate Editor Julie Polter’s review of Sufjan Stevens’ newest album, or Eboo Patel’s surprising lesson on what Thomas Jefferson’s 1764 copy of Islam’s holy book can tell us about the 2016 elections. The June issue taught us how to stop funding what we hate, how a housing-first model saved the life of a homeless transgender woman, and how prison guards are earning degrees alongside inmates.

Below, read our top 10 quotes from the June 2015 issue of Sojourners.

In fact, it seems that these days, the ancient idea of the common good has become most uncommon.
Beloved community illustration, urtcan /

Beloved community illustration, urtcan /

I stepped off the elevator and was greeted by three men with hoodies in church yesterday. My shoulders tensed for a few moments. Growing up in New York City, I’ve been groomed in paranoia and 20/20 peripheral eyesight. Yet after taking a second look, I smiled as I admired the theater props: Three hooded figures containing the faces of Hillary Clinton, Jay Z, and Trayvon Martin, with a caption reading, “We are Trayvon Martin.”

Metro Hope Church meets weekly at Harlem’s National Black Theater, so our church gatherings can often be a dance in improvisation as we’re frequently welcomed by new sets. One summer we were greeted by a gigantic “tree” protruding from center stage. It made this preacher’s imagination run vivid with all sorts of sermon possibilities.

But the hooded figures that greeted me last Sunday were a tribute to Trayvon Martin called, Facing our Truth: 10 Minute Plays on Race and Privilege. This month also happens to be the month that Trayvon Martin was born, and a month for celebration of Black History. These convergences do not escape me, nor does the distinct mission of our church in Harlem.

No stranger to dialogue on race and privilege, our church will often reflect on Dr. King who once lamented, “We must face the fact that in America, the church is still the most segregated major institution in America … 11:00 on Sunday morning …we stand at the most segregated hour in this nation.”

Gareth Higgins 10-02-2013

The makers of The Butler have told a kind of truth about the struggle for "beloved community" that has rarely been seen so clearly on multiplex screens.

Tripp Hudgins 05-03-2013
 Lissandra Melo /

Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial in Washington, D.C., Lissandra Melo /

Editor’s Note: Jim Wallis’ latest book On God’s Side: What Religion Forgets and Politics Hasn’t Learned About Serving the Common Good is sparking a national conversation of what it means to come together on issues that traditionally divide the nation. Bloggers Adam Ericksen and Tripp Hudgins are having that conversation here, on the God’s Politics blog. Follow along, and join the discussion in the comments section.

Benedict of Nursia is on my mind this morning as I ponder what it is that Jim Wallis is trying to accomplish with his new book, On God's SideAdam Ericksen pondered the virtues of baseball, winning, and losing in his post from earlier this week. Adam questioned the metaphor. What do we do with our losers? How can we all win?

What would it mean if people of faith began transferring their human identities from class, racial, and national loyalties to a global identity in a new beloved community created by God?
~ Jim Wallis, On God's Side

Today I'm wondering about where Jim was when he started pulling all of this together. Jim shared that he went on retreat (a good practice, in my humble opinion) to gather his thoughts for this new book. He went to a monastery (also a good practice, in my humble opinion). He prayed the hours. He wandered the grounds. He spent some time in silence. He read the Narnia books and gave some serious thought of C.S. Lewis' Aslan. All of this led to a question, well, many questions, but this question I've pulled out is what caught my attention. What if, indeed, Jim. What if we were to do this thing ... the beloved community?

It is no surprise to me that this question would emerge while Jim was at a monastery. Of course it would. And that he riffs on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a way is also wonderfully telling. "Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives," said Dr. King. Our souls must change. So too must our lives. Dr. King said much about the beloved community. So too did Benedict of Nursia.

There's so much to say here. I'm a little stumped. The beloved community is the Church, but it is exemplified by the monastery where people relinquish their individual control of their worldly goods. Monastics take vows to pray and work together. There's a shared rhythm of life. There is a shared mission. It's a challenging and difficult life, and not all Christians are called to it. Obedience, stability, conversion of life. If we want to be the beloved community, then the we must avow ourselves to such a Rule. Indeed, we must give up our personal or private identities to the service of all. 

But how do we do this as a culture, a global church?

The Editors 01-09-2013

"Justice too long delayed is justice denied."

Shane Claiborne 06-13-2011

This past weekend, Christians around the world celebrated one of our holiest holi-days: Pentecost. Pentecost, which means "50 days," is celebrated seven weeks after Easter (hence the 50), and marks the birthday of the Church, when the Holy Spirit is said to have fallen on the early Christian community like fire from the heavens. (For this reason, lots of Christians wear red and decorate in pyro-colors. This day is also where the fiery Pentecostal movement draws its name).

But what does Pentecost Sunday have to do with just another manic Monday?

What does a religious event a couple of thousand years old have to offer the contemporary, pluralistic, post-Christian world we live in? I'd say a whole lot. Here's why:

Let me start by confessing my bias. Not only am I a Christian, but I am a Christian who likes fire. I went to circus school and became a fire-swallowing, fire-breathing, torch-juggling-pyro-maniac as you'll see here. So naturally, I like Pentecost.

Glenn Beck is wrong on so much: wrong on social justice and liberation theology. His logic is often flawed. He is much too prone to use Nazism as an inappropriate analogy for what happens in contemporary America. He is one of the most divisive voices speaking in the United States today.

Alan Bean 06-10-2010
A University of Michigan study suggests that the college students of today are 40 percent less empathetic than students twenty or thirty years ago.
My friend Joe told me the story of relocating his family to be part of a church that takes community seriously.

More Than Equals, co-authored by Chris Rice and the late Spencer Perkins, is considered one of the pivotal books in the Christian racial reconciliation movement that found its greatest momentum in the early and mid-1990s.

Chris Rice 12-01-2009
"Integration" and "diversity" do not express God's purpose for reconciliation deeply enough. What we need is a fresh paradigm that declares our new culture in Christ.
Ryan Beiler 11-09-2009
People who do diversity work run the risk of setting impossible goals for themselves: The Beloved Community. The Kingdom of God.
Anne Dunlap 10-16-2009
These remarks were presented on October 13, 2009 at a press conference in Aurora, CO urging Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) to take a public stand in favor of comprehensive immigration reform.
Anne Dunlap 07-14-2009

The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.