There are many ways in which the world is changing, and it’s interesting to see where the religion fits into the adaptations.
Religious institutions often resist the changes in our culture. But even as some fight strong and hard to oppose, there are others, in the forefront of change, coaxing the culture to extend freedoms to more and more people. In the United States, we have a history, chock-full of spiritual radicals, who worked to make things different.
It was, after all, a pastor who led much of the civil rights movement in the sixties.
Christians have upheld the rights of the working poor.
Women theologians are challenging the ways in which we think about our households, our society, and God.
It was a Presbyterian woman who worked hard for the rights of the elderly.
And there have been pastors at the forefront of the movement for civil rights for LGBT persons and same-gender relationships.
Here are some things that I hope will become different, during the next 30 years, while I’m a pastor. These are the things I pray about and work toward:
I hope that the religious movement for peace will grow stronger. That the church will continue to find ways to protest against our nation’s continual wars, and that we will influence our government find new avenues for diplomacy and nonviolent resistance. That our voice will become more forceful and authoritative as we lift up the horrors of genocide and torture, and speak out against human rights violations. I hope that the dialogue between Christians, Muslims, and Jews will become more fluent, and lead to new paths of understanding in our world.
I hope that we will increase our nation’s support networks for the poor. That everyone in our country could have access to housing, food, and education, and that each person could seek the mental health services that he/she needs. Even in rural areas. I hope we would be a society in which even those who cannot lift themselves up by their bootstraps can still live with dignity.
I hope that we can reverse our course of environmental destruction. We can decrease our petroleum dependence and energy consumption. That our churches will begin to build wiser, more efficient structures (Churches are, after all, the largest landowners in the world. We could make a tremendous impact).
I hope that we can wake up to the economic situation of young adults. That we can begin to see the damage that we cause when we heap debt onto younger generations through high student loans, high rents/mortgages, predatory lending, no health benefits, and low wages.
I hope that we will move toward supporting same-gender relationships. That we would confess our history of deadly discrimination against gays and lesbians, and allow for LGBT ordination and unions.
I hope that there will be room for an entire spectrum of beliefs within our congregations. I’m progressive, but I’ve learned an incredible amount from people who are much more conservative than I am. I don’t want conservative evangelicals to leave the church, but also I don’t want them to force me out, or pressure me to keep silent, or limit my ministry.
I hope that more opportunities will arise for women in the church. That female pastors will keep up with their male colleagues (in positions and pay) after ten years in the ministry. That more women will be called as Heads of Staff. And that our denominations will begin to sort out some affirming, creative solutions for clergy couples.
That’s seven–a holy number–so I think I’ll stop. What’s your top seven? What would you add or amend? What do you hope will change in your lifetime?