Saturday, June 04, 2005


A fascinating initiative from Brian McLaren and the Cedar Ridge Community Church, who continue to model a vision of 'generous orthodoxy' in a neck of the religious woods that can be anything but open. What is also encouraging is the linking of worship to justice in a way that recognises that to offer prayer, petition, thanksgiving and sacramental expression is not to retreat into a cultic ghetto, but to give public (political) voice to who and what really counts in our lives. McLaren and his colleagues write:

"Worship in the Spirit of Justice began as a dream among a few members of a very ordinary church in suburban Maryland. Many of us were increasingly heartsick over the news from Africa, especially Western Sudan (Darfur). A year ago we knew that genocide was happening, and now, a year later, 200-300,000 more innocent children, women, and men have died. Meanwhile, we heard estimates that 3 million human lives have been snuffed out in recent years in Congo, and like Darfur, there is no end in sight to the killings. And of course, across Africa, the HIV pandemic creates an aching need--and opportunity--for compassionate, sacrificial response. [More on the problem of Darfur]

"But what could we do? We were just a few people in one small congregation. Then we realized that there may be handfuls of people in thousands of congregations who felt as we did. And we realized that even though we were just one congregation, perhaps if we decided to take action, others might join us. Immediately, we found willing colleagues and “Worship in the Spirit of Justice” was born.

"We are inviting willing Christians to gather for five Sundays of public worship in Washington DC, around the theme of justice and peace in Africa, and especially Darfur, Sudan. These outdoor worship services will take place at 1 p.m. between June 12 and July 10, 2005. We hope that people will attend their Sunday morning worship services and then come to be part of these events. We will speak to people in power and urge them to take action for our neighbors in danger and need. (Download a PDF to learn more:

"We are encouraging churches to bring delegations--complete with a sign or banner, if possible--to attend each week--perhaps ten or twenty or fifty or a hundred people per week. That way, the maximum number of people will experience taking a public stand in this way, and they will bring back the experience to their home churches. As well, we encourage churches to use the prayers and readings we’ll be using in DC back in their home churches. (We’ll post all the resources on this site each week, along with streaming video of our outdoor services, in hopes that other groups in other cities across our nation and world will wish to attempt similar gatherings of worship in the spirit of justice.) And of course, children are welcome – we can’t think of a better teaching moment for children than for them to join their parents in this endeavor.

"We will do what Christians always do when they gather for worship--pray, read Scripture, preach, sing, and take an offering (all of which will go to aid people suffering in Darfur). But we will do these things outdoors, in public, with four goals:

1. To pray for God’s justice and mercy to come for those suffering in Darfur, and to be formed as people who share God’s courageous compassion.
2. To urge the media to increase coverage for those who suffer in Darfur and elsewhere, and to urge our government to exert its influence in the world community to end the genocide there and pursue peace.
3. To call the church in America not to forget the poor and oppressed, especially those in Africa--and to make those who suffer poverty and injustice a greater priority in our prayers, preaching, and action whenever we gather to worship the God of justice.
4. To urge the U.S. government to promote peace in the Darfur region by adequately funding the African Union Peacekeeping effort." Further information.

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