Belonging and community are the antidote to war and fear. Churches are called to be the safe place people need to live in peace and thrive.
UN High Commissioner for Refugees Goodwill Ambassador Neil Gaiman – along with a thirteen extraordinary artists – share memories and visions reflective of What You Need to Be Warm: A Poem of Welcome (Quill Trees) – a reflection on welcoming the stranger and developing a place of belonging for one another.
Which is The Future of American Christianity (Pilgrim), according to author Laurene Beth Bowers, who asserts that, ‘churches need to become new communities committed to a grassroot focus on love of neighbor’.
Find additional resources for welcoming Immigrants & Refugees in our lib guide.
We can start with young people: The Kingdom of Children (Eerdmans) encourages youth ministers, parents, and anyone who works with children to ’embrace the liberation of children… [to] truly value and learn from them’, in order to ‘build up the kingdom of God here in our communities’.
Springtide Research’s annual findings on The State of Religion and Young People 2023: Exploring the Sacred is an excellent tool for understanding and more fully seeing the teens and tweens in your midst.
Advent and Christmas are key seasons for engaging children, youth, and their families. This year, many will value opportunities to embrace justice, peace, kindness, and compassion for their neighbors. Traci Smith’s, December Faith Practices Calendar focuses on simple faith practices; Advent Calendars – 2023, is Building Faith’s list of options with both faith practices and justice-seeking as daily activities; and Sparkhouse’s NEW Advent and Christmas Digital Activity Kits focus on the gifts of darkness with crafts, recipes, reading guides, a service activity, and more. Log in to Sparkhouse Digital (if you have it) for new materials; download previous-year versions or a sample here.
We are regularly updating our Advent & Christmas lib guide with additional resources for all areas of ministry with all ages.
Become more agile in developing welcome and community with Border Dance: A Study in Contrasts and Conflict and How to Resolve Them (Cascade), ‘a book that invites you to dance to the rhythms of grace that result in true harmony and unity’.
Leaders in the midst of Change/Conflict can find additional resources in our lib guide.
Developing a place of belonging means both seeing and acknowledging existing realities for those currently existing on the margins. We Become What We Normalize: What We Owe Each Other in Worlds That Demand Our Silence (Broadleaf), ‘calls for a new kind of struggle, ethic, witness, and spirit that helps us step away from the infinite loop of normalizing harm into effecting true change for ourselves and the worlds we inhabit’.
The Ends of Justice: Seeking Perpetual Peace in a Time of Endless War (Cascade) broadens this scope, recognizing ‘the hard-wired human longing for justice as the key to decisions of peace and war’.
We haven’t fully vetted the key resource in this Palestine/Israel Conversations Great Idea, but it shares some excellent tips for creating safe spaces for important and difficult conversations. If your congregation can develop skills around engaging difficult topics such as the conflict in Palestine and Israel, perhaps you could become the safe space for your whole community to engage in challenging, potentially divisive discussions that people want – and need – to have.
Find additional resources for Peace-Making in our new lib guide.