Spiritual Resources and Networking for an Evolving Faith. Progressive Christianity is a 501c3 non-profit organization that offers thoughtful and practical resources for individuals, families, and communities to explore and affect progressive Christianity, spirituality, community life, social and environmental justice.
The first Timothy from the first Tongan-American Disciples church has become the first ordained pastor of Tongan heritage in the Disciples. This summer, Rev. Tevita Uesi celebrated his ordination in his home church in Utah.
There are not many Disciples congregations in Utah, but the First Tongan Christian Church, co-located with Granger Community Christian Church in the Salt Lake City area, stands out. It is the only Disciples congregation with roots in the island nation of Tonga, located in the southern Pacific Ocean. With a population of about 100,000 who live on 36 of 169 islands scattered along a 500 mile stretch, the language and culture of the kingdom is a tightly woven tapestry in which Christianity and state are inextricably connected.
“Faith is a part of Tongan society,” said Uesi. “There is no separation. Every meeting starts with prayer and a song of faith, even in the government.” He said the missionaries that brought Wesleyan Christianity to the islands taught universal songs of faith that even those from the Mormon and Catholic communities share. In fact, the king and queen of Tonga are Wesleyans and the national flag features a cross.
Uesi is a second-generation Tongan, born and raised in the U.S., but he has a strong sense of his Tongan identity. This is what drew him to ministry.
He said his call came when the regional minister at the time, Rev. Dr. Jose Morales, approached him about attending seminary. Uesi graduated from Claremont Theological Seminary in spring of 2018.
“I saw a need in my community for competent leadership to help both generations. The first generation experiences difficulties navigating in the culture of the United States. They need support. The second generation needs to recognize the value of our Tongan roots,” he said.
Uesi did not go immediately into ministry. His first career as an adult was as a middle school music teacher.
“I taught for three years outside Salt Lake and taught those kids the Tongan culture, clothing and all, that first year. By the second year, all the kids wanted to be in the band,” he smiles.
Rev. Vinnetta Golphin-Wilkerson has had a front row seat to seeing Uesi grow in the faith as pastor of Granger Community Christian Church.
“Tevita has a strong commitment to family and they are close-knit. His two brothers and three sisters are all active at the church. His parents, Silia and Pastor Heamoni Uesi, have set a vivid example of love and service to the First Tongan Christian Church and Granger Community Christian Church faith families. Their openness to community extends to the wider ecumenical/interfaith church in the Salt Lake area. Watching Tevita as he grows and lives into his calling, has been a joy. I am grateful for the opportunity to see how God’s design of Tevita’s destiny will unfold,” she said.
Robert O’Sullivan, a retired high school English teacher and pastor, has called for “flash choirs” of Christmas carolers to assemble frequently at the White House and throughout the land, using carol verses old and new to combat destructive chaos and remind people that Christians should work for peace, justice, care of the earth, equality and love, especially as it applies to the most vulnerable.
A Statement by the United Religions Initiative, The Charter of Compassion, and The Parliament of the World’s Religions
Yemen is a nation in crisis. The impoverished country is facing a humanitarian crisis of mammoth proportions, including a devastating famine, in an ongoing civil war that is exacerbated by a scourge of religious violence. There is no time to spare in working to assist more than 3 million Yemenis that are displaced within the country, and over 280,000 who have sought refuge in other countries.
We, the United Religions Initiative, the Charter for Compassion, and the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a coalition of three global interfaith organizations, call for immediate action which must include the cooperation of the entire international community– including the United States, the United Nations, and the wider global community – to use every diplomatic and non-violent means possible to enact an immediate cease-fire in the civil war between the Yemen government and the Houthis rebels and to call on the allies of the conflicting parties to stop all arms shipments to their Yemeni partners.
The international community must also find the means to prevent the harassment, detention, and execution of members of religious minorities, with a special protection provided immediately to members of the Baha’i faith that are now being persecuted by the Houthis in Yemen.
Steps toward the goals of peace in Yemen will include:
Stopping all arms deliveries
Halting attacks on aid workers and civilians
Ending attacks on hospitals and clinics
Allowing humanitarian goods, especially food, water, medical supplies, and basic needs to enter the country without restrictions
Allowing schools to reopen so children can continue their studies
Pursuing a political solution to the conflict
Interfaith and humanitarian organizations stand ready to assist fourteen million people – half of Yemen’s population – who are enduring a deadly famine, as this crisis worsens daily. Aid workers from religious and humanitarian organizations, including the United Religions Initiative (URI) and the Charter of Compassion, are unable to administer food, water, shelter, and health care. Due to these restrictions, an estimated 50,000 children died in 2017, an average of 130 every day.
This unconscionable devastation must end for the Yemeni people. Let each person of faith and conscience relay this message to all authorities in his/her region, through organized campaigns, faith communities, and political action:
We call upon the United Nations Security Council to seek an immediate cease-fire so access to aid can be established.
We call on the parties to the conflict to reduce their involvement in the conflict and begin negotiations for a permanent resolution of violence, religious persecution, and the civil war.
We call on faith communities and interfaith movements to join in advocacy for the restoration of peace and the building of a unified, conflict-free, and productive nation.
Faith communities and interfaith movements across the globe hold a special responsibility to uphold the teachings of each and all traditions, and and should seek the support of governments to demand that immediate actions be taken. Starvation, sectarian violence, and religious persecution will no longer flourish in a world that ensures compassion – the universal teaching of each cultural and faith-based moral tradition – forms the basis of all global policy.
The Trustees of Phillips Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, seek a visionary leader to serve as the school’s president. As the seminary’s chief executive officer, the president is responsible for ensuring the institution has the plans, personnel, culture, material assets, systems, and relationships necessary to fulfill its mission and to achieve excellence. The president will exercise strategic leadership for the seminary while ensuring its continuing spiritual, academic, fiscal, and operational effectiveness.
The next president will be known for spiritual maturity and recognized as being unusually prepared to advance the mission of preparing students for biblically and theologically responsible, compassionate, justice-oriented Christian ministry. The president must be willing and able to work collaboratively with denominational leaders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and The United Methodist Church, though membership in either denomination is not required.
Phillips Theological Seminary offers Christian graduate theological education in service of intelligent, just, and compassionate religious and civic communities. We welcome students to a safe space for truth-seeking conversations about the Bible, Jesus, and faithful living. Courses available on campus and online for certificate, diploma, MDiv, MAMC, MASJ, and MTS programs, and on campus for the DMin program.
Boulder, Colorado, June 25, 2018—The Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality has launched its $1 million fundraising campaign “A Call to Transform” designed to support the Institute’s future with investments in student access and scholarships, faculty, enhanced public awareness, and innovative programs. This year-long campaign will focus on elevating the Institute’s mission of service throughout the world.
“We are at a critical juncture in history,” explains Dr. Stuart Lord, Fox Institute President. “There is a desperate need for higher education to birth courageous, authentic leaders in all fields and professions. This need will only be filled by an educational system which possesses a spiritual foundation, rooted in and supported by all faith and wisdom traditions. The Fox Institute exists for one sole purpose—serving that need in students from all walks of life and vocations.”
Dr. Lord stressed that while quantifiable measures are important in determining the success of an institution, it is the quality of the education that sets the Fox Institute apart from other graduate schools. With that in mind, he defined the A Call to Transform campaign as “evolving education to the next level” where a student’s spiritual depth directly correlates to their effectiveness in their family life, work, and service to their community. “We develop leaders and give them the tools to succeed,” said Dr. Lord.
The Institute will focus on the following funding priorities including:
Developing innovative technologies: Leverage advanced communications technologies to bring programs to those unable to access our physical campus by establishing an online curriculum and facilitating distance learning.
Establishing student scholarships: Reduced cost is essential to a diverse student body and vital to students struggling with educational debt.
Enhancing contemplative education: Assisting students in integrating their faith and wisdom traditions into their daily lives.
Training corporate leaders: Bring the Fox Institute’s conscious leadership curriculum to the corporate training arena.
Establishing ‘Wisdom Chairs’: Engage thought leaders from all wisdom traditions to co-create a future vision for the Institute.
Sponsoring cohort teachers: Establish a mentorship program to encourage a more dynamic, collaborative, and supportive learning environment to nourish students.
“Since we opened in October, every single student has shared that the FICS courses have been transforming both personally and professionally. We are exceeding expectations in the educational experience. With this funding campaign we will be able to expand those opportunities to others and foster the transformative and compassionate action that our planet requires,” said Susan Coppage Evans, DMin, the Institute’s founding president, who with her husband Leon Evans, MD, provided initial funding for the Institute. “To assist in this initiative, we have secured private donors who will match funds donated by July 16th up to $100,000 and we call on the community to meet this generous and ambitious challenge.”
The Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality (FICS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and opened its doors in October of 2017. The Institute offers doctoral and master’s degrees, certificates, and lifelong learning programs to a diverse population of students. Approved by the Colorado Department of Higher Education to operate as a religious school, the Institute implements a holistic pedagogy unique to higher education by blending the wisdom of all religious traditions with the arts and science. Through the utilization of five-day intensives, the Fox Institute enables its students to be informed by both creativity and critical thinking, thus enabling them to embody transformative leadership.
Creation Spirituality is a tradition and a movement. It embodies and reflects the wisdom of the world’s religious and spiritual teachings and our common creation-story as mirrored by science and the arts. It calls upon the interconnectedness of all individuals to be co-creators of peace, justice, beauty, ecological responsibility, and compassionate action.
The recent statement by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, defending the horrific separation of children from refugee parents on the basis of his tortured reading of Romans chapter 13, as well as Donald Trump’s recent statement that he wants Americans to treat him the way North Koreans obey their dictator, illustrate the critical need for our churches to stand publicly for a radically different version of the faith and for a very different direction for our country.
One way to manifest our commitment is to study the Bible with resistance-colored glasses, and invite our neighbors to join us. Start a RESISTANCE BIBLE STUDY group in your church today. Go public with it! Let your neighbors and your local press know that you are offering it. This free resource for progressive churches was written by Rev. Jim Burklo, author of Mindful Christianity, and is being continually updated.