Becoming More Of Who We've Always Been
For the past 7 weeks, leaders of our church have been engaged in an exciting time of dreaming, imagining and articulating the ways that we believe God is calling us to be more of who we've always been.
Central to this journey has been group learning around the historic relationship between European Imperialism and Christianity in the 1400's, 1500's, and 1600's. We'll continue focusing on every century up to this the 21st Century.
However, we're not just looking at how Christianity was mangled into a tool for European imperialism. We're also studying those who embraced The Way of Christ as a revolutionary ethic over the centuries. We pray to decolonize our understandings of Christianity and the church so that we are more aligned with The Way and a greater expression of the presence of God in our community.
What's crystalizing for us now is that the major arteries of the heartbeat of our congregation fall under three categories:
Social Justice, and
These congregational characteristics help describe the areas of greatest vibrancy in our church and serve to attract people who relate to them in some way. Brief thoughts on these tenets are outlined below:
SPIRITUAL JOY speaks to a state of being that centers vitality and wholeness in our relationship with God. The doctrines of the church, then, are only useful insomuch as we understand them being in service to our quest to experience the Kingdom of God on Earth and with a decidedly clear commitment to vitality, wholeness and joy. Pleasant Hope shows up at its best when joy as a way of life is centered.
SOCIAL JUSTICE was one of the defining characteristics of the Prophets and the ministry of Jesus. Therefore, we do not see it as an optional add-on to our understanding of the Christian Faith - rather it is central to who we are as a community. For more than 85 years, Pleasant Hope has shown this commitment in various ways.
SELF-SUFFICIENCY is near the root of all historic African American Christian denominations. American Africans began establishing their own churches and denominations in the late 1700's after experiencing racial discrimination in the White churches. Since that time, the "Black Church" has served as an important hub has helped meet the varied needs of its community while also birthing other complimentary institutions such as schools, hospitals, etc. From a biblical standpoint, the beginnings of the church as outlined in Acts 2: 43-47 also inspire thinking around congregations being proactive and counter-cultural with respect to caring for one another's needs. At Pleasant Hope, this takes shape in a number of ways including through our Cinderitha Payton Scholarship Fund, Orita's Cross Freedom School, and The Black Church Food Security Network.
Our ministry leadership has more work to do and more weeks to reflect on all of this so stay tuned for more as we are determined to flourish in every Way that God intends for us.