spiritual reflection

Seeing Things Through

PASTOR AND civil rights activist Gardner C. Taylor has influenced a nation, providing counsel to presidents and leading a movement. Alongside Martin Luther King Jr. and others, he helped establish the Progressive National Baptist Convention (PNBC) and served as its second president. In 2011, the PNBC celebrated its 50th year.

For 42 years, Taylor served as the senior pastor of the historic Concord Baptist Church of Christ in Brooklyn, New York. The cross street where I live in Brooklyn is named after this iconic man of God. He is 93 years old and still bearing abundant fruit. His most recent book, Faith in the Fire, is a collection of reflections and stories gleaned from his last 60 years in ministry.

Jason Storbakken: You were pastor of Concord Baptist Church of Christ for more than 40 years. That’s unusual today, when so many move on after three or four years.

Gardner C. Taylor: I think there is a restlessness on the part of pastors and on the part of congregations. They do not seem to be able to settle down for the long haul. It is very important for the pastor to come to know the people and understand the goals and purposes of the people and how they plan to get there. It takes time to learn all of that.

We have many identities—ethnicity, nationality, gender. How should our shared identity in Christ affect our life?

If we understand the dimensions of our identification with Jesus Christ, it gives us a balance and a sense of purpose and the determination to see things through.

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Yoga Sabbath: Shabbat Shal-OM.

800px-US_Navy_101108-N-8977L-001_Sara_Ukley,_a_morale,_welfare_and_recreation_fitness_instructor,_teaches_yoga_during_a_health_fair_and_aerobic-a-thonJust a few days after I returned from my respite in the mountains, Israeli forces killed eight Turkish nationals and one American on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla. Protests erupted all over Israel and Palestine.

In the midst of this tragic chaos I found myself visiting my yoga center more often than usual, hoping to find another glimpse of the peace I had tasted so vividly just a few days before. Perhaps these wise, centered people could offer a perspective that would look forward to a vision of understanding, or reconciliation -- a vision too often missed by politicians, military officials, media, and even activists.

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