I’ve been going through some of the old recordings from the past plenary speakers at Congress on Urban Ministry. As we approach these mid-term elections in a frenzy of political polarization, attack ads, and electioneering I was struck by the relevance of this plenary Jim Wallis did back in 2006.
Jim Wallis is an author and the founder/editor of Sojourners. He has been a crucial voice for American Christianity that crosses the normal, hard and fast, boundaries of left and right, liberal and conservative.
Listen here or below as Jim Wallis speaks at the 2006 Congress about moving from partisan politics (and partisan religion) towards creating and nurturing a movement for social justice based on faith and hope.
One of the highlights for me is near the middle where, for a couple minutes, he hits upon this idea that the Beloved Community must be built up by moving from ministry to models to movement. Wallis gives credit to ministries (saying at one point that if everyone in this room stopped their ministry there would be many cities that would literally stumble) but also pushes the Congress to move past ministry and even models that help extend ministry toward movements that bring ministry to bear upon systems and structures of injustice.
I wish Jim would have pressed a bit harder on this as I think many socially mindful/active Christians (Jim Wallis included) are still searching for the way to build a movement. The civil rights movement is an extraordinary exemplar but, times have changed and I would contend that the powers that benefit from the status quo have successfully developed methods to diffuse social movements created with familiar paradigms. We must create a new paradigm of movement and then allow it to adapt. I would contend that the best way to do this is by listening and being responsive to the Spirit.
If you are reading this from a Chicagoland location you might be interested to know that Jim Wallis will be participating in an informal debate out at Wheaton College on this coming Thursday. He will engage Arthur C. Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, in an informal debate: “Does Capitalism Have a Soul?”. Here are the details:
Thursday, October 28th – 2010
7pm at Edman Chapel
Debate to be moderated by Washington Post Columnist Michael Gerson.
More info here.