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Author Jim Kelsey

Jim Kelsey is executive minister of the American Baptist Churches-New York State.

We are nicer when we journey together. In writing about civility, Gil Rendle (“Behavioral Covenants in Congregations: A Handbook for Honoring Differences”) cites the work of Yale professor Stephen Carter, who argues that riding in a subway, bus or train full of strangers requires us to understand our obligations to treat one another with due […] Read More

The powerful strategize; the powerless engage in tactics. So writes Emmanuel Katongole in his book, “Mirror in the Church – Resurrecting Faith after Genocide in Rwanda.” People in power plan the way they want things to be. They do research and analyze from a distance. They employ technology and expertise. They are pragmatic and lay […] Read More

We learned it as children: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I assume it is to be a comfort to children when someone speaks unkind words to them. It occurs to me that it also could be a taunt that dares actual physical violence. In either case, it […] Read More

Malcolm X’s Chicago house had been firebombed that morning. Both Malcolm and Martin Luther King Jr. were in New York for speaking engagements. Malcolm had requested a secret meeting with King. King had agreed. It is a fictional account by Jeff Stetson titled “The Meeting.” In this play, Stetson speculates what these two influential, yet […] Read More

We have all seen it. You probably saw it in the last few weeks. A child is coaxed onto Santa’s lap, and then the child begins screaming and frantically trying to escape. Truth is, some children find a strange loud man in a bright red suit and long white beard frightening. The angels in Luke’s […] Read More

When I was young, I knew things were about to get boring when someone around me began a sentence with “remember when.” Now I have become one of those people of a certain stage of life who begins their sentences with “remember when.” My sons, in the patience that comes with young adulthood, no longer […] Read More

We live in a time when people seem to have a lot to say and say it with great conviction. This is good; we need to care about things. We sometimes, however, confuse having a reaction to something with really caring about it, caring to the point where we are willing to make a sacrifice. […] Read More

The song “Ebony and Ivory” laments that, when played on the instrument of our lives, diversity is not easy. “Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony / Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh Lord, why don’t we?” the song’s refrain asks. We must work at it, and our first attempts often are […] Read More

I was walking through the halls of a senior living facility in Belgium on my way to visit the elderly father of a church member. Over the speaker system came the chant, “The whole world is watching, the whole world is watch.” Then the musical group, Chicago, transitioned into the song “Someday” from their Chicago […] Read More

Advent is about waiting for the coming of the Christ, but what difference does this coming really make? Before the coming of Jesus, the Hebrews knew that God loved them. They knew that God forgave sins and that God took up the cause of the marginalized and despised. They knew that God was to them […] Read More