Bridging Our Differences by Putting Love into Action
At our recent “Lead the Way Home” Breakfast, I shared how excited I am to have joined Associated Ministries at this important time in the evolution of our mission of “uniting people of faith to build stronger communities.” But I also shared that I think we have some work to do on the “faith” aspect of that statement, because – frankly speaking – people of faith aren’t universally enjoying the best reputation these days.
Truth be told, we people of faith have been a bit of our own worst enemies, with a tendency to focus on our differences… which has led in many cases to us being known for what we are against, rather than what we are for. The reputations of all people of all faith traditions are damaged in the eyes of a watching world when that happens.
At a conference I attended in April 2014, I was inspired by a very impactful concept shared by Andy Crouch, an author and journalist. He spoke on the topic of “religious freedom and the common good,” sharing passionately about the flourishing of people in community. He went on to make this supposition: that if you care about flourishing you need to care about freedom of religion, because it is one of the deepest forms of human flourishing.
Yet fostering religious freedom and understanding is hard to do! Some things that trouble you may have to be supported by you if you want to support religious freedom in general, and thereby counteract society’s lack of appreciation for religion. The solution is to enable “accommodation,” which is another way to say: creative problem solving.
And that’s where I think we have an important opportunity as a coalition of people of faith, and people of good will, coming together to build a stronger community here in Pierce County.
We must put aside the idea of “otherness”… when it comes to any person of faith, we need to realize that we are always talking about “us”… we should not think of any other person of faith as “them.” But I believe we need some new tools and platforms to help make sure that effective interfaith action can take place and that it will be able to contribute in significant ways towards the transformation of our community.
Associated Ministries is a partnership founded on that same notion of common good—bridging theological differences by putting love into action. AM has worked with people of faith to serve vulnerable families and young people in our community since 1969, and we’ve seen many lives changed and communities empowered throughout Tacoma and Pierce County during the decades since.
At Associated Ministries we are called to serve as a convener of people of faith and our community at large, inspiring all comers to be more deeply involved in transforming our community, passionately seeking the common good for everyone, starting with the flourishing of the most vulnerable amongst us. I hope and pray this is a vision we will all unite around… for such a time as this.