Among the many important causes Sojourners lends its energies to, I have come to understand that “family values” hovers at the top of the list. I must confess that it took me a long while to figure this out. The single thing I most admire about Sojourners is its commitment to broadening the faith-based agenda in this country. That is, to broaden and deepen the conversation to issues such as global poverty, global climate change, and HIV/AIDS. The divisive rhetoric of so-called “family values” from prominent conservative evangelical organizations—who use it as an effective media sound bite—has disillusioned enough people from political engagement, not to mention the Christian faith itself.
I speak from experience on this matter. I’ve only recently regained my faith in Christ. Growing up in the white upper-middle class American Midwest presented some serious challenges to my developing political philosophy. Many of my close friends who attended youth group claimed to include all peoples in their faith—provided that you shared the same interpretation of Holy Scripture. I came to confuse the conditional Christianity I experienced with the inclusive gospel I read. It took a long time before I was introduced to the writings of Jim Wallis and others who share his vision, and before I started back on the path toward reclaiming my personal faith.
It has been a long and contemplative journey, but it was capped by my being received into the Episcopal Church this past spring. Although certainly not unique to one tradition, what fascinates me about the Anglican tradition is its emphasis on the “church” being defined by its people—not the institution created by them. We believe the body of Christ includes all people of God—people from all walks of life. I love the idea that I can be a part of a family that is beyond my own immediate family—the idea that I can be a part of the family of God. It is truly a blessing to be a part of what Dr. King referred to as the “Beloved Community.”
As profound as that realization has been for me, it has been further enriched by the daily interaction with the staff here at Sojourners. Engaging in the community (serving as a summer intern) with others who share the vision of a global family has not only been a blessing for me, it has also demanded more of me. The power of the idea of the global family allows me to not only care about the outside world, but to actually do something about it. My work with Sojourners has illuminated the subtle insight that God’s family is my family, too. If I can take anything from this experience, let it be that.
Stephen Robishaw worked as an intern for Sojourners’ media department for the month of June. He will be a junior at Kenyon College this fall.
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