I write during a difficult, but important, time for our nation and our church.
Nationally, we have just come through a divisive, angry campaign season which culminated in the vindication of fear-mongering and self-interest over reason and the common good. We are in the midst of a grief process, and grief does not have a fixed expiration date. The years ahead may be far tougher than they’ve been. What may be hardest is the uncertainty of knowing what we might face. We do know that the concerns among immigrants, religious minorities, racial minorities, queer people, the poor, and everyone who cares about creation, are all valid. It’s a challenging time to be a progressive in the United States.
At the same time, the message of peace that is the signature contribution of the Church of the Brethren to the world is needed all the more. Our church currently faces a transition of leadership (though far less dramatic, of course, than the national one), with three top leadership positions hiring new staff within one year. Who we will be as this part of the Body of Christ is still taking shape, and our voices are needed at the table.
Where can we find hope to keep moving forward?
I have found some comfort in turning to the groups that have been doing the hard work of organizing for progress and change over the long haul. In this season of grief and confusion, when our spirits may be low and our need to take care of ourselves all the greater, I am comforted to know that I don’t have to bear the burden of change alone. When I am exhausted, I know there are others with energy to keep moving forward.
Open Table Cooperative is one of those organizations that will keep up the work of progress through the challenging times. Here’s what we have done, and will continue to do, to contribute movement toward the peace and justice our Christ calls us to:
Strategize with other groups to bring ALL people to the table in our church nationwide
Create and share resources for progressive theology and practice in our congregations
Provide safe space and fellowship opportunities at CoB Annual Conferences
Represent a voice for diversity and inclusion at other national and regional gatherings
Offer a dynamic social media and online presence to energize and equip progressive voices
If this work is important to you, we invite you to make a donation to support our efforts. We welcome donations through the mail or online at our website, www.opentablecoop.org.
One new project we are especially excited to share with you is a year-long online devotional resource, launching in the new liturgical year (starting November 27). The project is called Parables for a Year. If you are receive our emails, you are already signed up to receive a parable a week, along with a probing question or two, written by our board member Dylan Dell-Haro. We will also be posting these devotionals on Facebook. Dive into Jesus’ stories in a new way with us this year. If you would like to sign up to receive our emails and the weekly devotional click here.
It is still a season of thankfulness, and so we also want to let you know that part of where we find strength for this work is from you. So thank you for your support, prayers, and solidarity in the struggle. We need each other, now as much as ever before. Thank you for being part of the movement to extend Jesus’ table of love for all.
The Open Table Cooperative Board:
North Manchester, Ind.
Elizabeth Ullery Swenson
Open Table Cooperative Coordinator