While Americans have been cautioned that the results of the 2020 election may not be known for some time after Election Day, pastors and other congregational leaders will have to say something next weekend to the faithful who assemble either in-person or online. But what can be said?

Leah Schade, author of Preaching in the Purple Zones, helps us imagine how preachers can help to bridge the political divides that exist within our congregations. We also return to the Alban archive to read Anthony B. Robinson’s 2007 reminder that leaders can change congregational conversations by helping our people find a novel third way forward. William H. Lamar IV reflects on the meaning of Black preaching after the 2016 election in words that still speak to the vocation of preachers in 2020. And we conclude with questions from John Wimberly’s article “Partisan Religion” that are beneficial for every congregational leader wrestling with faith and political engagement today. 

Welcome to the Weekly. 

How pastors can bridge political divides in 2020

How pastors can help bridge political divides in 2020

Soon after the 2016 election, scholar and Alban author Leah Schade launched a study to learn how congregations were experiencing partisan division. Her findings offer congregational leaders ways of engaging disagreement constructively.

Changing the conversation: Nurturing a third way for congregations

Changing the conversation: Nurturing a third way for congregations

Noted preacher, speaker and author Anthony B. Robinson offers 10 conversations he believes congregations need to learn to have. These conversations change the either-or options that are often presented in congregational debate and make the conversation both more complicated and productive.

Resources to respond to the coronavirus

Black preaching, after the 2016 election

What is the role of Black preaching in the America of President Trump? AME pastor Bill Lamar found inspiration and insight in November 2016 in the theology of his denomination’s founder, Richard Allen.

Questions for reflection

John Wimberly wrote an article entitled “Partisan Religion” for Alban’s Congregations magazine in 2008. In it, he offered questions for pastoral leaders to use in their own reflection on the topic, including the following:

  • What do you consider preaching that crosses the line from prophetic to partisan?
  • Do you believe it is inevitable that good intentions end up with less than good conclusions? If so, how is progress made? If not, how do you understand Paul’s words to the Romans in Chapter 7?
  • How do we differentiate between the responsibilities of the church vis-à-vis the political order and the responsibilities of individual Christians?

From the Alban Library

Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide

by Leah Schade

Preaching in the Purple Zone: Ministry in the Red-Blue Divide

Preaching in the Purple Zone is a resource for helping the church understand the challenges facing parish pastors, while encouraging and equipping preachers to address the vital justice issues of our time.This book provides practical instruction for navigating the hazards of prophetic preaching with tested strategies and prudent tactics grounded in biblical and theological foundations. Key to this endeavor is using a method of civil discourse called “deliberative dialogue” for finding common values among politically diverse parishioners.

Before you go…

You are not alone. That’s been an orienting conviction of Alban since its founding. Whatever your congregation is experiencing, you are not alone. There is another congregation and another leader experiencing the same thing you are — and countless more who have experienced the same thing in the past. It’s our work at Alban to help you find each other and learn from each other. 

For all of us who will step into the pulpit on “the Sunday after Tuesday,” may we know that we’re not alone. We’re not alone struggling for the right words in the study this week, and we’re not alone in standing before our congregation next weekend offering words of love, peace, justice, conviction and grace. May the company of Leah, Tony, Bill and John give you the hope and courage you need. 

And, until next week, peace!

Nathan Kirkpatrick

Managing Director, Alban at Duke Divinity