Envision 08: Toward Christian Unity in the Public Square

Is Christian unity in the public square an important goal to work toward? Here at seminary there are many people thinking about denominationalism as a theological issue/concern. I went to a conference to think about some of these issues. It was called Envision 08 (www.ev08.org) I helped out with a workshop on Sexuality and Faith. There were many young evangelical Christians who are freeing themselves from the grip of right wing politics there. The conversation was familiar to an Anabaptist like me, but it was like watching people hear the Good News for the first time. Everyone was so excited that faith meant more than rigid rules, hierarchy, and supporting the U.S.A.

The Declaration below, coming from “Envision: the Gospel, Politics, and the Future” at Princeton University June 8-10, 2008, began with an online dialogue of approximately 100 participants on June 2 about religion, social change, and politics. On June 8, a diverse panel of scholars discussed the results of the dialogue.

After attending the conference and hearing reports about the conversations that occurred throughout many aspects of the conference, the panel met and created the declaration. You can sign it if you want.

Envision the Future: A Declaration on the Common Good
Princeton, New Jersey
11 June 2008

We are at a critical moment in the history of the United States. The common good has been seriously compromised. Perpetual war, rampant poverty and inequality, environmental crisis, and the narrowing of the possibilities of human life and cultural flourishing imperil our future.

In this moment of crisis, we have an important opportunity to reclaim the common good; to enact a robust vision of a common life that moves away from a world where resources and responsibilities — whether economic, political, or social — are held in the hands of a few to a global community in which they are held by all and all are benefited. Envision is a theologically and politically diverse movement of Christians committed to following the way of Jesus. Our movement includes Evangelicals, Pentecostals, mainline Protestants, Anabaptists, emerging church members, and others who profess that the call of Jesus includes struggling for peace, social, economic, and racial justice, and a flourishing creation.

For three days in June 2008, over 500 of us gathered — across our divisions — in Princeton, New Jersey to critically and creatively discern a new vision of the common good. We came together and listened to one another and learned from one another. We were enriched and transformed by our conversations as we worshipped, sang, and broke bread together.

Envision offers new voices in the public square to address the complexities that confront the United States and the world. We are racially and ethnically diverse activists, clergy, lay persons, students, and scholars who are deeply informed by a faith that compels us to participate in God’s work to eradicate poverty, create peace, and build just communities and right relationships with the earth.

In recent times, some have used Christianity to divide us from one another and demonize others. They have placed Christianity on the side of the powerful against the powerless. Envision inaugurates a new relation between our faith and our politics. In a spirit of humility and hospitality, we seek to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God and each other.

We acknowledge that we do not agree on all things. We acknowledge that we do not have all the answers, but we will seek them together. In the midst of our differences we are committed to remain together at the table that God sets for us and not demonize each other, but talk, reason, and work together for a brighter and better future.

We affirm our desire to work together and with others in a shared commitment to justice, equality, and peace. We invite all who share such a commitment and vision to sign this declaration and join the Envision movement.

Here’s the link: http://fvcommunity.org/ev08/ You have to create a username, that’s annoying, but if your computer remembers it for you after you make it, that’s cool.