In 2017 at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Orlando Fla., the late author and theologian Rachel Held Evans presented a phenomenal plenary talk in which she said, “Christianity has died and risen many times because we have a God who knows his way out of a grave.”
This past year we have all experienced an overwhelming amount of death — in its most literal sense, as COVID-19 has taken 2.6 million lives and counting worldwide; and also in the ways we have said goodbye to what was once routine, safe and expected.
When Evans spoke of the death and resurrection of the church in 2017, she was specifically referring to the trend of fewer millennials participating in traditional church systems.
Her words are as relevant today as they were then, in ways that are much the same and in ways that COVID-19 has pushed upon us.
I’ve held on to her message, and this year as Easter approaches I am thinking about it again and encouraged that death — in all its forms — is not the end, because we serve the God of life.
Easter reminds us that death, mourning, crying and pain are not the end. It reveals that there is a way out of the tomb.
Churches and communities of all kinds face an uncertain future of who will show up again in the building. Some are asking what their work should look like moving forward.
In this issue we’ve collected articles that encourage us to hold what has been lost as communities of faith and to imagine what we might create for the future.
I hope what you find here can spark hope and inspiration as you wrestle with these uncertainties.
Evans couldn’t have known how her words would fit into our landscape today, yet they fit like a glove. She named that racism and other prejudices will remain what keeps people away from the church and that God will continue to keep working where God is needed.
“If Christianity must die in America, let it die to the old ways of power,” she said.
As we imagine what church might be on the other side of COVID-19, may it die to the old ways of power to rise equipped to make way for God’s work for today.