The Truth Shall Set You Free

I am a bit of a unicorn – a Black Puerto Rican, third generation Lutheran. I was baptized, confirmed, married, educated and called to ministry in this church. The past year has been difficult for me to reconcile my cultural identity and my denominational identity.

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Setting Up A Membership Tracking System

People connect with you on a spectrum, ranging from minimal awareness to deep engagement. Connecting with a church is a complicated process that requires multiple pathways, rather than a simple but misleading distinction between member and non-member (or “unchurched”).

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Black Lives Matter

Those who forgave the deadly, racist shooter in the Charleston church were as Christ to me. Their grace exposed the racism of those who held onto the confederate flag as a way of life. Their grace transformed parts of the country that seemed irredeemable.

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The Compass

It’s simply a magnetic pointer that swivels on a pivot Northerly it leads us and there’s confidence we give it Called a “compass” that points us in the right direction But where we go needs some thoughtful …

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The Clothing of the Divine Presence

“God,” our creator — it’s really just a human-given name Humbly self-described in the book of Genesis as “I am” The source of life known to the ancients, likely not tangibly seen Stories of a burning bush …

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A Matter Of Belief

In most conservative Christian circles, the importance of belief is talked about
“You’ve got to see God like we see Him — for salvation, you can’t do without!”

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7 Steps to Prepare for Hate Attacks

It is time for congregations to develop protocols for responding to hate initiatives on their doorsteps. As the intolerant lose any self-discipline in lashing out at others, we can expect a fresh round of cross-burnings, gay-bashing graffiti, and online vitriol.

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I, Racist

What follows is the text of a “sermon” that I gave as a “congregational reflection” to an all White audience at the Bethel Congregational United Church of Christ on Sunday, June 28th. The sermon was begun with a reading of The Good Samaritan story, and this wonderful quote from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah.

Credit for this speech goes to Chaédria LaBouvier, whose “Why We Left” inspired me to speak out about racism; to Robin DiAngelo, whose “White Fragility” gave me an understanding of the topic; and to Reni Eddo-Lodge who said “Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race” long before I had the courage to start doing it again.

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Mindful Christianity: On Being Jesus’ Twin

This is an excerpt from a book Jim Burklo is writing this summer: MINDFUL CHRISTIANITY. The research he’s doing for this project has taken him deep into the history of Christian spirituality. According to Jim: “The more I learn, the more I have to learn!”

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A Letter from Pope Francis on Climate and Environment: Why a Papal Encyclical May Matter

Pope Francis and the Environment: Yale Examines Historic Climate Encyclical. What follows are the transcripts from the Panel on the Papal Encyclical held at Yale University on April 8, 2015.

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Muslims Raised Over $100,000 To Help Rebuild Black Churches In The South

Three Muslim organizations have raised over $100,000 to rebuild black churches in the South. “We hope this campaign encouraged non-Black Muslims to support the BlackLivesMatter Movement and remain committed to ending anti-Black racism in America,” Sarsour said to HuffPost. “We have a [lot] of work to do. This is just the beginning.”

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Spirituality is Not Optional

Recognizing and maintaining and building our spiritual infrastructure is necessary, not a superfluous “bonus” of life. At the conclusion of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described this spiritual infrastructure. He said that one who hears his teachings and does them will be like one who builds a house on rock as opposed to another who builds a house on sand. The first house remains standing in the storm and flood, but the second is swept away.

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Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

The 2012 killing of Trayvon Martin, an African-American teenager in Florida, and the subsequent acquittal of his killer, brought public attention to controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws. The verdict, as much as the killing, sent shock waves through the African-American community, recalling a history of similar deaths, and the long struggle for justice. On the Sunday morning following the verdict, black preachers around the country addressed the question, “Where is the justice of God? What are we to hope for?” This book is an attempt to take seriously social and theological questions raised by this and similar stories, and to answer black church people’s questions of justice and faith in response to the call of God.

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One Southerner’s Thoughts on the Rebel Flag

I have been watching and listening to conversations about this issue, and it has taken me a while to organize my thoughts, but I think it’s time I weighed in, as a Southern White male. So here are a few thoughts: To those who point out that this was never officially the flag of the Confederacy, and rather was the battle flag of Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, I say that this is a specious detail. There is no symbol more widely associated with the Confederacy than the rebel flag, and that is why South Carolina chose to fly it fifty years ago.

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Church Burnings and Southern Resistance — Is It 1963 Again?

I am a child of the Black Church. And like so many of my African American LGBTQ brothers and sisters we continue to have a troubled relationship with our places of worship. But like so many of them, I, too, am unsettled by the news of this recent spate of church burnings. None of the church burnings have been labeled as hate crimes- yet I cannot help but notice these church burnings are occurring suspiciously in rapid succession following the Charleston black church massacre, which left nine dead-including its senior pastor.

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Go Down, Moses Racism: What to do?

We know what to do. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights begins: “Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom.” Unitarian Universalists claim the “inherent worth and dignity of all humanity.” Christians claim the Apostle Paul’s ecstatic revelation that “You are no longer Jew or Greek, no longer slave or freeborn, no longer ‘male and female.’ Instead you all have the same status in the service of God’s anointed Jesus.” Leviticus 19:18 says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said, “Love your enemies.”

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The Atticus We Don’t Want to Know

When Atticus in “To Kill A Mockingbird” states to Scout, “Why reasonable people go stark raving mad when anything involving a Negro comes up, is something I don’t pretend to understand,” as a thoughtful and measured response decrying racial prejudice, no one would imagine Lee’s second novel “Go Set A Watchman,” to reveal the blight of racial strife in Atticus as an aging angry bigot and separatist. And news of Atticus taking a 180-degree turn has sent shockwaves across the Internet.

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It’s Time to Sidestep Political Correctness and Have a Dialogue on Race – Nation

American novelist William Faulkner wrote in his 1951 novel Requiem for a Nun, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” As we all try to move away from America’s racial past, this recent massacre reminds us of it. For decades now, America has refused to broach the topic of white privilege. During Black History Month in 2009, then-US Attorney General Eric Holder offered an explanation as to why.

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