Facets of Community Episode 9: Voice

Each year the FBCR congregation sets aside a few weeks for reflection. We reflect collectively on who we are as a church, and we reflect individually on how we relate to the church at large. From now through Sunday, November 7, 2021 I want to invite our faith community to consider broadly what it means to live in community together. Toward that end, we will highlight nine different facets of community, nine ways by which our community takes shape.

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Well, for this last episode of our stewardship reflection podcast series I’d like to talk about a facet of community that I think is understated and certainly underutilized. Our voice. That is, the voice we share as a community of faith.

Somewhere along the line we have gotten the idea as the church that we play a role in serving those who are affected by injustice and affected by the ills of the world – serving them directly, but not necessarily paying attention to the underlying causes of the things that push people to the margins of society. But one only needs to turn to scripture to see Jesus turning over tables and having it out with the powers that be over issues of the way that people’s lives are valued and the way that people are treated in society.

We certainly have a role to play as followers of Jesus in looking to those areas in our society where people are pushed to the edges or mistreated or not given what they need to live a full and rich life, but that’s a terrifying prospect as individual follwers of Christ to think of ourselves as a sort of crusading prophetic person who goes alone into the world to try to change the systems that bring these things about. We alone have a very quiet voice in society, but as a community of faith we have a bit of a louder voice. Certainly at the congregational level we partner with organizations who work in the area of advocacy to look into certain kinds of issues – childcare, hunger, racism, and other areas of injustice. We’re also connected nationally to a body, the American Baptist Churches USA, The Alliance of Baptists, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty who do this work for us, because of us – standing up for what is right in the world and standing up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. We have a much louder voice as a community than we do each individually.

Many of those I know in these organizations tell me how empowering it is when they are meeting with leaders in our society to advocate for certain kinds of changes to be able to tell them I come not as an individual, but on behalf of the 5,000 churches of the ABC or on behalf of The Alliance or BJC.

Here are some things to think about:

What are the areas of injustice you care most about and what are the underlying causes? How can you be involved in standing up for the kinds of changes that need to take place in our wider community and in society on the whole? And how does it make you feel to think of yourself as an advocate for those changes? It’s possible it feels overwhelming, like you’d be one person against the world. That brings us to the action piece: find someone at FBCR who cares about that thing too and see if they’d be willing to join you. Check in with the Mission Committee and see if we’re already doing something or connected to an organization who is. Check in with me; I’d love to chat with you about it.

It’s all worth considering. I’ll see you on Sunday.

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