ESA’s Year in Review (2013)
Passing the Baton
On July 1st ESA’s founder, Ron Sider, retired from his role as president. We commemorated his leadership and legacy, and we welcomed new co-Presidents Paul Alexander and Al Tizon at our 40th anniversary conference. Paul and Al kicked off their consensus leadership by co-editing Following Jesus: Journeys in Radical Discipleship, a series of essays dedicated to the life and work of our beloved founder.
A New Vision
In keeping with Ron’s legacy, we’ve adopted a new vision statement for the organization. “On Earth as It Is in Heaven: Radical Love Made Visible” captures our commitment to keeping ourselves grounded in Jesus and to working towards shalom in everything we do. We’ve also redoubled our commitment to working in and through the church to foster holistic, missional engagement, Jesus-shaped public policies, and cultural transformation.
Speaking, Teaching, and Preaching
In 2013, our staff continued its tradition of prolific speaking and teaching engagements, both domestically and internationally. Here are just a few highlights:
- Spoke at nine different churches and continues to coach four of them regularly.
- Presented a paper entitled “Cultivating Scholar-Activism in Missiological Education” at the Association of Professors of Mission’s annual meeting.
- Spoke at Fuller Theological Seminary on “The Legacy of Evangelicals for Social Action.”
- Delivered the Presidential Address at the Society for Pentecostal Studies.
- After completing two final weeks of study in Israel, became an alumnus of the Shalom Hartman Institute and American Jewish Committee’s Christian Leadership Initiative.
- Presented at Narberth Presbyterian Church as part of their human trafficking series.
- Presented at the Christians for Biblical Equality Conference in Pittsburgh.
- Taught a World Conflicts class on human trafficking at Philadelphia’s Central High School.
- Educated future church leaders on the pornification of popular culture during a presentation at Palmer Seminary prior to WRAP (White Ribbons Against Pornography) week.
- Educated parents about the dangers and prevalence of pornography at a homeschool cooperative.
- Led a Midrash workshop at the Simple Way on extending our circle of compassion to include all of God’s created beings.
- Will graduate from Palmer Seminary in May!
Faith in Action
Here is a look at ESA’s activities and events from this past year:
- Our July Follow.Jesus.2013 event was an intimate weekend of celebration and discipleship. One attendee said he was “disturbed…in a good way.”
- When it looked as if the U.S. was on the brink of war with Syria, ESA called for the pursuit of nonviolent reconciliation and hosted a panel presentation entitled, “Why Should We Care About Syria?” featuring Palestinian human rights attorney Jonathan Kuttab and faculty from Palmer Theological Seminary and Eastern University.
- EvangelicalsforSocialAction.org was named one of the National Association of Christian Social Workers 100 Best Websites.
- We signed onto numerous letters calling for immigration reform; the protection of children and other vulnerable populations from draconian budget cuts; justice and mercy for death row inmates in Maryland, Texas, and Florida; sane gun laws, and much more.
- We partnered with Equal Justice, USA to host a breakfast meeting to examine the failures of the death penalty in the U.S.
- When no one would accept the body of Boston marathon bombing suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev, we urged Christians to demand a swift and respectful burial. Our petition was covered by the Religious News Service.
- In partnership with World Vision, ESA launched the Prayers for Peace project, which mobilizes Jesus followers to come alongside the peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.
- By Christmas, we will have held our second national conference of 2013, Impact: Holy Land, a conversation with followers of Jesus on the theological and practical issues at work in the Holy Land.
- Before he retired, Ron chaired the drafting committee for Christian Churches Together’s historic response to Dr. King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail.
- Praxis House, the intentional community guided by Al, is now home to six students and a toddler. We’re bursting at the seams and on the lookout for a larger house to expand the community.
- In order to develop more online and church education resources (and yes, to save a little money and trees), PRISM is now a quarterly publication.
- PRISM won three Evangelical Press Association awards this year:
- 2nd place in the first-person article category (“Walking on the Edge for the Lord” by Tonetta Landis)
- 2nd place in the general article (long) category (“A More Sustainable Peace” by Tim Hoiland)
- 5th place for our interview with Joshua DuBois of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
- Al’s Missional Preaching was named Outreach Magazine’s Preaching Resource of the Year.
- Paul was featured in the Oxford University Press book The Heart of Religion.
- Al’s “Leading Evangelicals for Social Action” was published in SAGE’s Religious Leadership: A Reference Handbook.
- Sarah is now the co-editor of Palmer Theological Seminary’s alumni magazine, inMinistry.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, ESA is working with nine Sider Scholars—graduate students of theology who are vital to the success and operation of ESA. They help ensure that the office runs smoothly, do top-notch research for our books, write ePistle articles, come up with and carry out new marketing ideas, and much much more. Here’s just a sampling of what scholars were able to accomplish this year:
- Becky Hall is working to create a media kit for Heeding God’s Call as a way to increase involvement from evangelicals in their efforts to reduce gun violence.
- Landon Eckhart is working with the International Fellowship for Mission as Transformation (INFEMIT) to assist them through the incorporation process.
- David Fuller is working to expand our outreach to local churches.
- Max Beck is helping Paul with Christ at the Checkpoint: Hope in the Midst of Conflict.
- Nicole Morgan has been invaluable with event planning and writing.
- Jennifer Carpenter just helped to pull off Palmer Seminary’s International Chapel.
Here is a glimpse of some of the ways God is guiding ESA in 2014:
- For the first time in two years, we won’t be planning a major national event. We will be hosting several national trainings, including teaching church and lay leaders how to replicate our dialogue on sexual diversity in the church, Oriented to Love, in their own communities.
- Al will be speaking at various regional, national, and international gatherings: Ecclesia Network, Inhabit Conference, American Baptist Church International Mission’s 200th Anniversary, and also at various educational institutions: South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies, Luther Seminary, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies (Stott-Bediako Forum).
- We will be launching two new church resources—one on immigration and one on racial reconciliation.
- We will hold a one-day workshop on March 28th, in conjunction with the creation of our racial reconciliation resource.
- Paul will be speaking at a number of conferences and universities in the US, Palestine, South Africa, and Turkey, as well as finishing up a book on social ethics.
- Kristyn will be presenting a workshop at the 2014 Gay Christian Network conference on “The Dangerous Adventure of Talking with ‘Them’”—and the “Heartspace that Keeps Us Safe.”
How You Can Partner With Us This Year
- Our staff and scholars can teach, preach, and lead workshops related to a variety of topics, from human trafficking to homosexuality in the church, creation care to the conflict in Israel and Palestine, racial reconciliation to evangelism and many more. We would love to visit your church and help lead discussions on these difficult issues. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested.
- Give a friend a copy of PRISM magazine and encourage them to subscribe.
- Commit to sharing a portion of your monthly budget with ESA. Consistent support throughout the year helps us focus on our dynamic and much-needed program goals.